WINTERnet Dispatch, Feb 2014

Institute Responds to James Meredith Statue Defacement

The Winter Institute joins with Dr. Dan Jones, University of Mississippi chancellor, and the UM community to condemn the recent campus act meant to incite fear and promote hate…. (read full statement)


COMMUNITY RELATIONS

We’ve recently added two staff members to meet community demand, started work on our first Welcome Table initiative beyond Mississippi with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office in New Orleans, and begun working with five new communities, bringing our Welcome Table total to fifteen.

Through the lens of West Point, Miss., inaugural recipient of the C.C. Bryant Community Progress Award, Megan McRaney discusses the Institute’s flagship Community Relations program, the Welcome Table.


YOUTH ENGAGEMENT

We are meeting with educators around the state, gearing up for the Summer Youth Institute, June 14-22, which coincides with our youth-driven commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer.

Robert McAuliffe reports on a recent event we co-hosted with the Smithsonian Institute to educate students about Mississippi’s civil rights history.


ACADEMIC SERVICE

Recently, we have:

  • Conducted diversity skills training at the University of Mississippi, the University of Mississippi Law School, Delta State University, Northeast Community College, and Mississippi Association of Colleges and Employers
  • Teamed up with partners on campus and off to develop:
  1. Joint visiting scholar appointment specializing in South Asian American issues
  2. The Mississippi Expectations Program, designed to encourage students to think ambitiously about their futures
  3. A program prompting graduate students to improve their knowledge of social justice and training in restorative justice techniques
  4. A program teaching active bystander techniques

We’re also working with Southern Studies to design and implement the Gilder-Lehrman film series and accompanying dialogues, “Created Equal”; Greek Affairs has invited us to conduct a diversity skills workshop; and we’re assisting Social Work in planning their upcoming cultural competency symposium.

Chancellor Dan Jones recently gave us the green light to develop a comprehensive campus-wide diversity skills program.

Finally, we are so very excited to have 11 undergraduate and graduate “Winterns” who have been invaluable in their labor contributions, innovative ideas, and support of the Institute.

Shanequa Hathorne writes about our campus-wide Black History Month diversity workshops.


ADVOCACY

Since launching last fall, the Institute’s blog Rethink Mississippi has established itself as a leading source for public policy analysis and commentary in Mississippi. Rethink offers today’s rising generation of Mississippians a unique forum to share ideas about the issues of tomorrow. We seek honest, data-driven discussion of Mississippi’s critical long-term policy questions, and many young Mississippians have taken up the call.

Recent articles about youth outmigration, the Mississippi state flag, and the connection between child poverty and single working mothers have helped Rethink attract nearly 20,000 visitors and 78,000 page views since the beginning of the year. The blog’s success demonstrates the demand for constructive conversation about Mississippi’s social and economic problems instead of the same old hot-button distractions.

Please help Rethink continue to grow by bookmarking www.rethinkms.org and following us on our Twitter and Facebook pages.


WELCOME PORTIA BALLARD ESPY!

We are thrilled to welcome Portia Ballard Espy to our team as director of community relations! A graduate of Southern University, in Baton Rouge, La., and recipient of an MBA from Loyola University, in New Orleans, Mrs. Espy is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Policy and Administration Program at Jackson State University. Prior to joining us, she was chief administrative officer for the Children’s Defense Fund’s Southern Regional Office. She has also served as assistant director of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Mid-South Delta Initiative. Her work in this universe spans some 30 years, and she joins us, she says, with sleeves rolled up: “I am truly humbled, inspired and honored to be part of an organization that is working with such diligence to create stronger communities by breaking down barriers that separate and alienate. I believe that the Winter Institute’s work is key to helping create a more peaceful, unified and productive future for us all.”