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Alumni Association to Host Conversation on Racial Injustice

The University of Mississippi’s Black Alumni Advisory Council, part of the Ole Miss Alumni Association, is hosting a conversation Tuesday (July 21) aimed at promoting healing, allyship and action in response to nationwide racial injustice.

The program, which is part of a broader Stronger Together series, will feature Ivory Williams-Shelby, chair of the advisory council, and Adam Ganucheau, new editor-in-chief of Mississippi Today. The program will be hosted at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom.

“We are really trying to educate our alumni on different things like: You hear systemic racism, but do you know what that is?” said Torie Marion, assistant director of alumni affairs and a member of the Black Alumni Advisory Counsel. “If they have questions, they can ask questions. We have two knowledgeable panelists.

“Hopefully we’ll come up with some answers to our alumni base’s questions. But we also want to talk about some solutions as well. We want those solutions to be driven by the conversation.”

E.J. Edney, director of the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, has been involved with previous Stronger Together events and will serve as moderator for Tuesday’s event.

“In many ways, this is sparked in the same way as the previous Stronger Together conversations we’ve had,” Edney said. “We’re experiencing that the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade have heightened our awareness about ourselves and how we relate to other folks across a number of issues. Plus, we’re experience all these battleground moments during COVID.”

Williams-Shelby was the first African American woman to earn a master’s degree in urban planning from UM when she graduated in 1980. Besides chairing the advisory council, she has used that knowledge to work for and serve as adviser to the first black mayors of Jackson and Hattiesburg, and has taken her work to the international level in South Africa.

“I have an Ole Miss story,” she said. “And I’m very interested in helping improve the experience, not limited to African American students, but the experience of Mississippians, because I think that’s critical.”

Ganucheau is a native Mississippian and graduate of the UM School of Journalism and New Media who has been with Mississippi Today since 2016, recently being promoted to editor-in-chief. In this role, he oversees the newsroom and works with its editorial team to fulfill the publication’s mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest, including racial injustice. 

“While often uncomfortable and difficult, honest conversations about race – specifically about racism and racial inequities ingrained into American systems – are important and overdue,” Ganucheau said. “I’m looking forward to sharing a bit about how this current national reckoning is reaching Mississippi, and how Mississippi Today is covering it all.

“But more than anything, I’m most eager to just listen and learn myself.”

The program is targeted to Ole Miss alumni, but Marion said she wants to see students, community members and anyone else affiliated with the university not only attend, but let their voices be heard during the event.

All participants must register in advance. Register for the event here.

By JB Clark

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
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