|MARTIN, Tenn. –The University of Tennessee at Martin’s 13th annual Civil Rights Conference, February 17-22, will focus on the theme: “The Civil Rights Movement and Social Change in the 21st Century,” and look to draw on the inspiration and history of one of America’s great social movements for guidance in the struggles for social justice confronting America today.
Diane Nash, one of the main leaders of the Nashville Civil Rights Movement, will deliver the keynote address at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 in the Boling University Center’s Watkins Auditorium.
Nash is one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and played an extraordinary role in keeping the 1961 Freedom Rides going in the face of tremendous violence against the Freedom Riders. She was also instrumental in developing the campaign to desegregate Nashville’s lunch counters and in organizing the Selma Voting Rights Movement, which ultimately resulted in African Americans winning the ability to vote.
Dr. Vincent Harding, a historian and civil rights activist, will also serve as a featured speaker, delivering his address titled “The Civil Rights Movement’s Significance for Today” at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 21, also in Watkins Auditorium.
Harding and his wife, Rosemarie Freeney Harding, participated in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and co-founded Mennonite House, an interracial voluntary service center and gathering place in Atlanta, Ga. Harding also served as an advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., drafting one of King’s most famous speeches, “A Time to Break Silence.”
“We are proud to bring Diane Nash and Vincent Harding to the UTM campus and community,” said conference coordinator, David Barber. “We are committed to introducing our students to people who made this country a better place, against tremendous violence and hatred. And we are committed, too, to promoting the goals of the civil rights movement: a decent life, free from fear and want, for African American people and for all people in our society.”
UT Martin’s conference is one of only two civil rights conferences sponsored yearly by any public university in the United States.
The week’s activities will begin on Feb. 17 with the movie “Red Tails,” which highlights the bravery of the Tuskegee Airmen, shown at 6 and 9 p.m. The movie is sponsored by the UT Martin Student Activities Council.
At 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 18, Florence Roach, an actress who recently played a maid in the film, “The Help,” will present a one-woman performance on the Civil Rights Movement, “She-roes.”
At noon and again at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 19, Dr. Julie Hill, associate professor of music, along with her percussion students, will present “Roots of Rhythm.” Designed to demonstrate the migration of rhythm through the slave trade, the performance will provide a multi-sensory experience, encouraging audience members to observe how different societies are formed and interact through music. There is a $5 admission charge for this event.
On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the Hortense Parrish Writing Center, Humanities Building, room 209, will sponsor a workshop on the work of black writers.
Harding’s address will start the conference’s main day, Thursday, Feb. 21, at 9:30 a.m. A group of teachers from Jackson will follow Harding with a seminar titled “Education and Race Today: the Case of Jackson, TN.” At 1 p.m., a group of students born in Africa will speak on “An African Perspective on Race in America.”
Dr. Adam Wilson, lecturer of history, and Dr. David Coffey, chair of the Department of History and Philosophy, will then present “On the African American Military Experience and the Struggle for Civil Rights” at 2:30 p.m. Nash will speak at 7 p.m. following a performance by the UT Martin collegiate gospel choir.
On Feb. 23, interested students, faculty and community members can participate in a trip to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
All events will be held in the Boling University Center’s Watkins Auditorium unless otherwise noted. There is no admission charge, unless otherwise noted, and the public is encouraged to attend.
For more information, contact Barber at 731-881-7465 or by email at email@example.com.