Robert Luckett, history professor and head of the Margaret Walker Center, writes:

Our governor and the Legislature want to revamp MAEP and strengthen charter schools. We must be wary. It's not by chance that modern school-choice "reform" has a strong connotation with our racist past. Many in the state's white leadership are products of white-flight desegregation just like the governor. Many of these white power brokers have never been personally invested in high-quality public education for all children and see little reason to be now.

Learn more at Luckett, Robert. “From Council Schools to Today’s Fight for Public Ed.” Jackson Free Press. February 15, 2017.

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The Columbus-Lowndes Public Library will host an exhibit of photographic prints from the collection of Levi J. Rowan, former president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University) from Jan. 30-Feb. 24. 

Part of the Margaret Walker Center's permanent collection at Jackson State University, 10 black-and-white framed photographs, depicting individuals, families, groups, office scenes and special programs and events comprise the exhibit. Dating to the 1890s, they detail the stories of middle- and upper-class African Americans in Mississippi and Louisiana. 

Levi J. Rowan was an 1893 Alcorn graduate and native of Rodney, Mississippi, and the first alumnus to serve as president of his alma mater in 1905. He went on to serve until 1911, but was then re-elected president in 1914, serving until his death in 1934.  

Due to the systematic disfranchisement and establishment of segregation in the region during this period, the black elite comprised a small part of the population, making these pictures a rare find. Still, they indicate the persistence of African Americans despite the ravages of Jim Crow society in the South and show the long history of the black middle class in America, which did not simply appear out of thin air in the 1960s.  

Instead, these individuals provided a power base that was essential to the success of the modern civil rights movement and to growing access for African Americans to the ranks of the middle class. The collection also tells the story of early professional photography — one of the few career paths that was open, even if on a limited basis, to blacks in the South at the turn of the 20th century.

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The Fannie Lou Hamer Institute @ COFO, The Institute for Social Justice and Race Relations, The Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, and The Department of History and Philosophy present: Fences: African Americans in Major League Baseball featuring Curtis Granderson at COFO (1017 JR Lynch St.) at 6pm Thursday, Feb. 9.

Before Jackie Robinson integrated baseball in 1947, African-Americans had no choice but to play in the Negro Leagues. Because of this integration, one would think that African-Americans would naturally gravitate to baseball. That has not been the case. As of now, the percentage of African-Americans playing baseball is just below eight percent. The numbers did rise during the 1970s and 1980s. Since that time, the numbers have been on a steady decline. Curtis Granderson, outfielder for the New York Mets and poet laureate C. Liegh McInnis, will discuss this trend and other issues related to African American baseball players. 

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Award-winning author Nicholas Lemann will give a talk on “The History of the History of Reconstruction” at the Old Capitol at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7. Lemann is dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and the author of five acclaimed books, including Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War.

The event will begin with a reception and book signing at 5 p.m. The lecture will center on the aftermath of the Civil War in Mississippi and the different ways that time period has been interpreted over the last 150 years.

“In the mid-1870s, Mississippi’s Old Capitol and Governor’s Mansion saw a momentous and chaotic series of events, which although less familiar to people than the events of the Civil War were just as consequential,” Lemann said. “We must remember that history happens first as events, and then as a record of the past that should never be taken as final.”

“Nicholas Lemann’s Redemption is the definitive account of Reconstruction in Mississippi,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are honored to have such an eminent historian and writer returning to Jackson to discuss this pivotal era in American history—and how it has been viewed during different times.”

This program is supported by the Mississippi Humanities Council through a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities exploring the legacy of race in the United States, and co-sponsored by the Mississippi Book Festival.

Nicholas Lemann was born, reared, and educated in New Orleans. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1976. He has worked at the Washington MonthlyTexas Monthly, the Washington Post, the Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker.

Lemann served as dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University from 2003 to 2013, and is now Pulitzer-Moore Professor of Journalism at Columbia. He is the author of five books, including Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War (2006); The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (1999), and The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (1991). He has worked in documentary television with FRONTLINE, the Discovery Channel, and the BBC.

Lemann has served on the boards of the Authors Guild, the Academy of Political Science, the Society of American Historians, and is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.

The Old Capitol, Jackson’s oldest building, is a National Historic Landmark. Located on State Street at Capitol, the museum’s regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, free of charge. For more information call 601-576-6920 or visit

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The History Department at Mississippi State University invites undergraduate scholars to submit papers for the ninth annual Symposium for History Undergraduate Research (SHUR). The symposium, "Looking Back to the Future: Examining the Anomalies of the Past," will provide students with the opportunity to present their research in the format of an academic history conference and have their work discussed by Mississippi State history professors. The event is scheduled for April 28-29, 2017, on the Mississippi State University campus in Starkville.

Papers are welcome on any historical topic, but especially those that reflect the Mississippi State University History Department’s strengths in the history of science and technology; agricultural, rural, and environmental history; military and diplomatic history; the Civil War; gender history; African American history and civil rights; and the American South.

The paper should be based on original research in primary sources. Interested should submit a proposal or abstract of not more than 400 words to Dr. Andrew Lang and Dr. Muey Saeteurn at by March 1, 2017. Students whose papers have been accepted will be notified by March 15, 2017. The History Department will offset the costs of one night’s lodging for presenters and provide a BBQ banquet dinner on the Symposium’s opening night.

SHUR is on Facebook at

2017-01-30_2017 shur flyer

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Reporter Destiny Alexander describes Banks', long-time visiting professor in the DPH and active JSU alumni, work with Rev. Eddie Carthans to bring new economic and educational opportunities to Holmes County.  "We want a brighter future for all residents there and will promote education as a major means for achieving economic growth and prosperity throughout Holmes County,” Banks explains.

Read more.

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Jackson State University’s Margaret Walker Center has received a $300,000 grant from the NoVo Foundation to work with young women of color throughout the South in conjunction with Natalie Collier and the Lighthouse project.

Founded by a gift from businessman Warren Buffett, the NoVo Foundation – “Novo” the latin word that can mean to make anew, refresh, revive, change, alter, invent – states that their mission is to foster a transformation from a world of domination and exploitation to one of collaboration and partnership, according to the foundation’s website.

The Lighthouse project—to be housed at the Margaret Walker Center on the campus of Jackson State University—targets southern girls with a responsibility “to be a revelatory, unflickering light for black girls and young women in the southern United States by providing a safe space and focused programming to address their personal, social and leadership development needs.”

Collier created and will direct The Lighthouse project. Collier has spent the past five years doing young women’s leadership development, curriculum design and grant making at the Children’s Defense Fund – Southern Regional Office and Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic and Social Justice.

“When Natalie approached me about the participation of the Margaret Walker Center in this project,” notes Center Director, Dr. Robert Luckett, “I jumped at the opportunity.  It seemed like a perfect fit for us and our work to promote the African-American experience.”

The renewable grant gives Collier the opportunity to incubate and leverage her experiences working with young women and girls in the South to focus more fully on creating a more balanced, equitable world by changing social attitudes, relationships and institutions that perpetuate injustice for girls and young women, especially black southern ones.

“I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity to expand the work I’ve been doing for the past several years—affirming girls and young women through the CDF and SRBWI,” Collier says. “I look forward to learning more, teaching more and partnering with individuals, organizations and institutions committed to the success and uplift of girls and young women, who are the backbones of so many of our communities.”

As Collier sees it, “a falsehood has pervaded American culture as fact: Girls are fine. Because of this, girls and young women are too often neglected to focus on boys and young men, and this is especially the case when the conversation focuses on girls of color.” She continues, “This negligence provides a false choice and assumes that advocates, activists, organizers, and thought leaders aren’t sharp enough to focus on both. What is certain is girls are not and cannot be fine if no one is paying attention to them. The Lighthouse will redress this issue.”

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49th Annual MLK Convocation

January 12th, 2017 by history


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Congratulations to our new graduates!

December 9th, 2016 by history

Beverly Bishop, Allante Boykin, Tavia Chatman, Iasia Collins, and Hannah Williams graduated with B.A.s in History.  Candice Brent and Darius Smith earned M.A.s in History.  Congratulations on your success and good luck for your future!

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