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Overby Center to Examine Pulitzer-Winning Editors During Civil Rights Era

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The second in a series of programs to salute Mississippians who have won the Pulitzer Prize will be held at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss today, Tuesday, March 22 at 5:30 p.m.

To celebrate the centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes, the Mississippi Humanities Council is partnering with the Overby Center in three panel discussions entitled “The Pulitzer Prize and Mississippi Journalism.”

The upcoming program at Ole Miss, “Editorial Winners: Voices of Reason in an Unreasonable Age,” will deal with three small-town editors who won Pulitzer Prizes for editorial writing during the tumultuous Civil Rights era: Hodding Carter Jr. of Greenville, Hazel Brannon Smith of Lexington, and Ira Harkey of Pascagoula. Each editor faced tremendous resistance in their communities for their courageous stands against racial intolerance.

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Participants will include family members and a scholar who will discuss the legacy of these important voices of moderation in a time of political extremism: Hodding Carter III, son of Hodding Carter Jr., and himself the editor of the Delta Democrat Times newspaper during the 1960s; Dr. Jan Whitt, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado and the author of Burning Crosses and Activist Journalism: Hazel Brannon Smith and the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement; and Judge Dale Harkey of Pascagoula, the son of the late editor of The Chroniclein the Gulf Coast city. Overby fellow Curtis Wilkie, who was a young journalist in Mississippi in the 1960s, will be the moderator.

The series is part of the Pulitzer Campfire Initiative commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Prizes in 2016. The Mississippi Humanities Council received a $20,000 grant from the Pulitzer Prize Board to support free, public programs related to the history and legacy of the Pulitzer Prizes in our state. “We are very excited to honor the centennial of the most prestigious awards in American literature and journalism. Mississippi writers have won more than their fair share of Pulitzer Prizes, and we are so grateful for the Pulitzer Board for giving us the opportunity to examine and celebrate them,” said Stuart Rockoff, executive director of the MHC.

To prepare for the centennial, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced the Campfires Initiative, which aims to ignite broad engagement with the journalistic, literary, and artistic values the Prizes represent. To inspire year-long programming throughout the country, the board partnered with the Federation of State Humanities Councils on the initiative. After a review of grant proposals, the Pulitzer Prize Board awarded more than $1.5 million to 46 state humanities councils.

The first Mississippi program took place earlier this year on the Gulf Coast and the series will conclude with an event at Millsaps College in Jackson on April 8.

The programs feature Pulitzer Prize-winning work in journalism, arts and letters, and music. The goal of the board and the Federation of State Humanities Council is to engage American communities in discussion about the values these disciplines represent. The Federation and the Pulitzer Prize Board, which is headquartered at Columbia University, developed this initiative together. It is supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Pulitzer Prize Board.


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