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Heather McTeer Toney Speaker for Honors Convocation

By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

Heather McTeer Toney, an accomplished attorney and author, will deliver the keynote address for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College‘s fall Honors Convocation at the University of Mississippi.

Convocation will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free and open to the public.

Heather McTeer Toney, a respected attorney, author and politician, is set to speak at the fall Honors Convocation for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College on Sept. 26. The 7:30 p.m. address in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts is free and open to the public. Photo by Keely Williams

The theme for the convocation is “Cotton, Cornrows and Climate Change: Diversity as a Solution to the Climate Crisis.”

“McTeer Toney was selected because she is a citizen-scholar who has made a large impact on the political and cultural landscape of the state of Mississippi,” said Ethel Scurlock, the college’s dean. “She is a celebrated politician, an exceptional scholar and activist who is working in fields that many of our students are interested in.

“I hope that many will stay after the presentation has ended and maximize their time with her on our campus.”

McTeer Toney, an Oxford resident, is the author of “Before the Streetlights Come On: Black America’s Urgent Call for Climate Change” (Broadleaf Books, 2023). Her book underscores the disparity between Black Americans’ low perception of climate change and the large impact the phenomenon has had on the Black community.

“Students who attend fall convocation will hear from a nationally-recognized expert on climate change and learn how their efforts can make a difference in the future of our planet,” Scurlock said. “I am especially excited about giving away 100 copies of Toney’s most recent book, so students can dig deeper into the issues she will address in her speech.”

At age 27, McTeer Toney became the youngest mayor ever in Greenville. She is also the city’s first Black mayor and first female mayor. In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed her as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Southeast Region.

McTeer Toney serves as the executive director for the Beyond Petrochemicals Campaign. She has also served as senior director for Moms Clean Air Force and vice president of community engagement for the Environmental Defense Fund. She is appeared in on various networks and outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Established in 1997 by Jim and Sally Barksdale, the Honors College houses more than 1,600 Ole Miss undergraduate students from all the university’s schools and College of Liberal Arts.

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