By Lauren Davis
The annual TEDxUniversity of Mississippi event is a gathering place for students, faculty, and LOU community members to be challenged and inspired by diverse and personal messages from speakers.
This year’s event, held Feb. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, is open to the public. Tickets are on sale for $10.
The idea for the TED community started 30 years ago during a four-day conference in California, and the organization has grown considerably since then. Speakers follow the event’s slogan detailing their “Ideas Worth Spreading” and have just 18 minutes to share their stories. Each year there are two national TED conferences that have included prominent speakers like Bill Gates and Jane Goodall. TEDx then became a locally produced event that allowed community members to come together for a similar experience to the national events.
Since 2015, TEDxUniversity of Mississippi has provided an opportunity for students and speakers from around the world to share their message on a big stage. Each presenter has 12 minutes to speak, and each speaker discusses a different topic. This student-led organization has produced 34 videos in the last three years that have gained over 1 million views.
This year’s event will host 13 speakers with a wide variety of backgrounds ranging from first-year law students to sociology professors to others who aren’t affiliated with the university. Topics this year include women in politics, race in the South, and how reading affects empathy. One speaker, associate professor of English Beth Ann Fennelly, says that TEDx talks are her opportunity to clarify her work of teaching literature for the past 20 years.
“I’m passionately convinced that reading can change our lives for the better, and I’m looking forward to showing people how and why,” Fennelly said.
Tallulah Jones, a junior general engineering major, feels that this event creates a bridge between students and the Oxford community through a connection over shared messages.
“The inspiration and collaboration that grows out of this event is something so inimitable and special,” she said.
Another student, freshman journalism major Kate Kimberlin, believes this event has the power to change the community for the better.
“Seeing others serve on different TEDx boards not only makes me excited to be where I am but also excited for what’s to come,” she said.
In addition to the speakers, TEDxUniversity of Mississippi will feature local musicians. Performances will include the University of Mississippi Jazz Ensemble, Oxford High School Choirs, and Lafayette High School Choirs.