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Overby Center Features Mississippi Pulitzer Prize Winners

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Adding to its regular slate of programs dealing with writers and issues for the spring semester, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss is partnering with the Mississippi Humanities Council in a series of three presentations saluting Pulitzer Prize winners from the state.

The Pulitzer events are taking the Overby Center on the road for the first time. The introductory program was held last month in Long Beach, and the series will climax in Jackson in April.

It continues with a program on the Ole Miss campus at 5:30 p.m. on March 22 when family members and writers will discuss the work of three late Mississippi newspaper editors, Hodding Carter, Ira Harkey and Hazel Brannon Smith, who distinguished themselves with their bold editorial stands that won Pulitzers a half-century ago.

A final Pulitzer program, “Journalism and Social Change” will be held at Millsaps College in Jackson on April 8, focusing on news coverage ranging from the civil rights movement to the passage of the Education Reform Act in Mississippi. The panelists will include Hank Klibanoff, a former Mississippi journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for co-authoring the 2006 book, “The Race Beat;” Leslie McLemore, former director of the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute at Jackson State University; and Charles Overby, former editor of The Clarion-Ledger, and Fred Anklam, a reporter for the paper which claimed the Pulitzer for public service in 1983.

The Long Beach presentation included Natasha Tretheway, a former poet laureate of the United States and, a Gulf Coast native who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry; Stan Tiner, former editor of the Sun Herald, winner of the Pulitzer in 2006 for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and Charles Mitchell, former editor of the Vicksburg Post, which won a Pulitzer for its news stories following a devastating 1954 tornado.

The series is being funded by a $20,000 grant to the Humanities Council from the Pulitzer Prize Board. “Mississippi writers have won more than their fair share of Pulitzer Prizes, and we are so grateful to the Pulitzer Board for giving us the opportunity to examine and celebrate them,” said Stuart Rockoff, executive director of the council.

The Overby Center is also sponsoring several other programs this spring at the center’s auditorium. All events are free and open to the public.

“Slaves in the White House” – Jesse J. Holland, an Ole Miss journalism graduate, Washington reporter and author of a new book, “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House,” will talk about the subject at 11 a.m. on Feb. 25.

“Oxford’s Literary Tradition” – Charles Overby, chairman of the center, will moderate a discussion about the extraordinary number of writers who have lived in the university town with guests Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books, and authors Beth Ann Fennelly, Neil White and Curtis Wilkie at 5:30 p.m. on March 4.

“The Value of the First Amendment” – Geoffrey Stone, a constitutional scholar and professor at the University of Chicago Law School, will join Overby in a conversation about press freedoms and the First Amendment at 10 am. on April 11.

“Can Journalists Come Home Again?” – Two prominent Mississippi newsmen, Fred Anklam and Dennis Moore, who once reported for The Clarion-Ledger and have worked for years for USA TODAY, are returning to Jackson to help organize an ambitious online news operation that will concentrate on Mississippi affairs. They will talk about the initiative at 8 a.m. on April 14.


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