Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4061 - Brittany Davis-Green - email@example.com
CLARKSDALE – Coahoma Community College encouraged an open discussion regarding issues within the African American community, more specifically within the context of the Mississippi Delta, during “A Talk Show on Current Issues” Tuesday morning.
CCC students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members engaged in a heavy conversation centered on race, politics, education and culture in the Mississippi Delta during the “talk show” hosted at 10 a.m. in the Whiteside Hall lecture room.
The event was part of a series of events sponsored by CCC’s Division of Academic Affairs in observance of February Black History Month. Panelist included: Brenda Luckett, a Clarksdale native and special education instructor at George H. Oliver Elementary School; Dr. Jimmy Wiley, former CCC instructor and Dean of Academics; and Dennis Dupree, superintendent of the Clarksdale Municipal School District.
The program opened with CCC student William Horn leading the invocation, followed by Dekendrian Dunn, who gave a lesson on the origins of Black History Month during the welcome and purpose.
“We encourage each of you to explore and expand your knowledge for a deeper appreciation and a broader insight of a community that has made indelible imprints upon mankind,” Dunn said.
It also featured a monologue, performed by CCC’s Director of Education Research Letha Richards, of Tyler’s Perry annotation of “Four Colored Girls”, by African American poet and play wright Ntozake Shange and selections by CCC’s Male Choral Ensemble.
Before introducing the panel, moderator Dr. Emmitt Riley provided the audience with some context for the event.
“When we look at the struggle for equality in American democracy … and we look at the realities and the plight of African Americans, people of color, and all groups that may be marginalized—be it through gender, race, religion and so forth—it gives us pause to think about where we have been and to assess where we are going and what are the best strategies that we can use to move forward in terms of achieving and making America live up to the very principles on this experiment that we know as democracy,” Riley said.
The panelist then gave their thoughts on questions about the poverty and socio-economic in the Delta as well as current issues including low voter turnout, police brutality, systematic racism, and educational challenges.
“We have to decide what we need to solve first—do we look at poverty or do we tackle education?” said Depree. “I think they go hand in hand, but there needs to be an open discussion on how we solve these issues in the Delta.”
Luckett said while the Delta has it share of problem, she doesn’t view “home” as hopeless.
“I can understand that we have problems that are unique to our area, but also we have gifts that are unique to our area as well ,” she said.
Wiley added while it’s good to have a discussion about the present, it’s even more important to consider the future.
“I would like to focus on tomorrow because it’s going to be very very important that we focus on tomorrow and not wait until tomorrow comes to do it,” said Wiley. “We have to begin focusing today.”
Riley then posed to the panelist the suggestion that African Americas have become “complacent”.
“We haven’t become complacent, we’ve become comfortable,” said Luckett. “Race is not the central problem—it’s economic disparity. …Somehow we have to change the psyche of our citizens to understand if you’re in control, you’re in control during the good times and the bad.”
Wiley argues that most of the problem was due to a lack of political engagement.
“Right now we are not voting, and we should,” Wiley said. “Some of this problem is on our own shoulders. As far back as you can read, the struggle has been between the haves and the have nots—nothing has changed.”
Dupree suggested that more should people keep track of elected officials’ work while in office.
“We elected these people to represent us, and we don’t know what they’re voting for,” he said.
Dupree also cited the importance of researching and knowing history.
“We don’t know our history. …We don’t know there is a reason why things are happening,” he said
Although the panel raised several other interesting and valid points, it was all summed up with this statement from Wiley: “You asked the question what can we do, and of course the bottom line to that is education.”
“We hope that you have been informed and inspired,” said co-organizer Vera Griffin in closing.
CCC’s Black History Month events will wrap up Wednesday, Feb. 25 with a culminating program at 10 a.m. in the Pinnacle. MVSU Professor will be the guest speaker.
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