Civil Rights Program Brings Jackson State and Brandeis Students to Institute

Jackson State University and Brandeis University students recently visited the Winter Institute as part of a Civil Rights and Educational Equity program. The program, a hands-on collaboration designed both to examine the history of desegregation and busing, and to assess how the legacy of segregation impacts educational inequity today, grew out of the Institute’s Mississippi Truth Project.It is the second exchange between Brandeis University and the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University, with the Institute as a sponsor. The program kicked off in Boston, Mass., where the twelve students worked with the Union of Minority Neighborhoods’ Boston Bus Desegregation Project. There, they studied the history and legacy of busing as a means to end segregation. From Boston, the program traveled to Jackson, Miss., where the students, working in conjunction with the Margaret Walker Center, will continue their examination of school desegregation.

Students from Brandeis and Jackson State with Dr. Susan Glisson On July 9, the students traveled to Ashland, Miss., to meet with Roy DeBerry, civil rights veteran, cofounder and executive director of the Hill Country Project, and recently appointed Institute activist in residence. DeBerry, a Brandeis alumnus, provided the students with his perspective on both historical and modern social justice efforts in Mississippi. Aja Antoine, a rising sophomore at Brandeis University, said of visiting with DeBerry:

“It was like interacting with history in a way I’ve never experienced before. I really enjoyed hearing about Roy’s experiences as a youth in Mississippi, and how those experiences translated into subsequent social justice work at Brandeis University. For me, the memories formed during this program are ones I will cherish for the rest of my academic career.”

The students also met with Institute executive director, Dr. Susan M. Glisson, in Oxford, for further context on how the Civil Rights and Educational Equity program’s archival work on desegregation intersects, through the Institute’s work in communities throughout Mississippi, with the civil rights movement of today. Gabrielle Anderson, a rising sophomore at Jackson State, was surprised by her experience with the Institute, adding that our work “for equal opportunity and diversity was really refreshing to see firsthand.”

Collaborations such as these are inspiring on many levels: not only that our work is seen as worthy of examination by our peers, but also, as attention grows, so do our opportunities for collaboration and for expanding this critical work to the places that most need it. As ever, we thank you for supporting us!

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