Athletics Department Teams with University, Winter Institute and Mission Mississippi
OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Athletics has teamed up with the university, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, local churches, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Mission Mississippi throughout this year to promote racial equality through a weeklong Racial Reconciliation Week, set for Tuesday (Oct. 7) through Saturday (Oct. 12).
Highlights from the week include an integrated church service, two panel discussions and the Mission Mississippi cross arriving in Oxford. The week kicks off with a student panel at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics auditorium. The “Understanding Racial Reconciliation” panel will feature discussion by Ole Miss student leaders about what they understand racial reconciliation to be in a so-called “post-racial” world.
“Leadership and service are key to who we are at the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “I am pleased our leadership in athletics is committed to our university’s role in racial reconciliation in Mississippi and beyond. The events of this week will help all of us focus on what we can do personally to make this a stronger and healthier university and state.”
The athletics department is taking an active role in the week’s activities and will have Nathaniel Northington Sr., the first African-American football player in the SEC, share his story with student-athletes. Northington broke the “color barrier” by becoming the first African American to play any sport in the SEC when Kentucky played Ole Miss in Lexington, Ky., in 1967.
Northington, the author of “Still Running,” will serve on the “Mind, Body Spirit” panel, set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Overby Center. He will be joined by the Rev. Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church of Oxford, and Steven Haynes, author of “The Most Segregated Hour.”
“While intercollegiate athletics aren’t the most important aspect of the University of Mississippi, there is no doubt we have a responsibility to use our broad platform to raise awareness for important initiatives like racial reconciliation,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork said. “We are honored to partner with the William Winter Institute in this special way and strive to do whatever we can to serve the university and Ole Miss family and continue teaching every day.”
Head football coach Hugh Freeze echoed Bjork’s sentiments and said he is pleased to be partnering with the university for this important event.
“As a Mississippi native, I’m proud of how far our state has come, and it’s exciting that our university is at the forefront of this progress,” Freeze said. “We have great vision and leadership at Ole Miss, and I’m honored that those of us in athletics can lend support to the racial reconciliation program.”
The Winter Institute works in communities and classrooms, in Mississippi and beyond, to support a movement of racial equity and wholeness as a pathway to ending and transcending all discrimination based on difference.
“Given the history of our state, it is important for the flagship university of the state to spotlight the need to come together to appreciate our differences and to work more effectively together to make Mississippi a better place,” said Susan Glisson, the institute’s executive director. “We are thrilled to be a part of this campuswide initiative.”
The week’s full schedule includes:
Racial Reconciliation Week Events
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
5:30 p.m.: Student Panel: “Understanding Racial Reconciliation” – Overby Center
A diverse group of UM student leaders will discuss what they understand to be racial reconciliation in a so-called “post-racial” world. Student panelists will share their experiences with regards to race and its many intersections, while also exploring whether they believe a university with such a rich, yet complex and complicated, past as UM will ever fully achieve racial reconciliation.
Melody Frierson, Youth Project Coordinator for the William Winter Institute
Terrius Harris, Residential Housing Association
Kendrick Hunt, National Pan-Hellenic Council
Hope Owens-Wilson, One Mississippi
Sean Higgins, UM College Democrats
Gabe LaBonia, Interfraternity Council
Emilie Street, UM College Democrats & ASB
Quadray Kohlhiem, Black Student Union
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
7 p.m.: Integrated Church Service – First Baptist Church, Oxford
Thursday, October 10, 2013
5:30 p.m.: Panel Discussion: “Mind, Body, Spirit” – Overby Center
This panel explores the strategies utilized by academics, athletes and clergy to advance the project of racial reconciliation. Panelists will share their successes, challenges, ideas, methodologies, and offer advice to audience members on how to effectively and productively achieve racial reconciliation.
Michele Alexandre, UM Law Professor
Nathaniel Northington Sr., author of “Still Running” – Integrated SEC Football
Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church, Oxford, Mississippi
Steven Haynes, author of “The Most Segregated Hour”
Friday, October 11, 2013
7:30 p.m.: Mission Mississippi Ceremony – North Side of Courthouse, Oxford, Mississippi
Saturday, October 12, 2013
7:30 p.m.: Kickoff vs. Texas A&M
The game will feature in-game recognitions of civil leaders and organizations committed to racial reconciliation