The University of Tennessee at Martin’s 19th-annual Civil Rights Conference will address the theme “Toward a Radical Revolution of Values: A New Poor People’s Campaign” with events Feb. 12 and the week of Feb. 17-23 on the UT Martin main campus.
The Rev. Dr. William Barber II, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, will give the keynote address at 7 p.m., Feb. 21, in the Boling University Center’s Watkins Auditorium.
Barber is president of the North Carolina conference of the NAACP and a political activist. He works to confront systemic racism, poverty, environmental devastation, war economy and the moral narrative of religious nationalism in America today. Barber founded “Moral Monday” rallies in Raleigh, North Carolina, to protest laws that suppress voting rights, health care, living wages, immigrants’ rights, public education and LGBTQ rights. Barber is also a distinguished professor and published author.
All events are free to the public and located in Watkins Auditorium unless otherwise noted. A schedule of events is as follows:
- Panel discussion: “The Black Experience in the Classroom”; 7:30 p.m.; sponsored by the Student Government Association’s Multicultural Affairs Committee, the Civil Rights Conference and the Black Student Association
- Movie screening: “Get Out”; 6 and 9 p.m.; sponsored by the Student Activities Council
- Roundtable: “Black Writers Reading Roundtable”; Hortense Parrish Writing Center, Andy Holt Humanities Building, room 209; 3-4 p.m.; co-sponsored by the English and Modern Foreign Languages Writing Center and the Civil Rights Conference Planning Committee
- Performance: “Poor People Matter,” a Florence Roach original play; 7 p.m.
- Panel discussion: “Segregation in West Tennessee”; 1 p.m.
- Speaker: “Immigration as a Civil Rights Issue,” Tom Castelli, legal director, American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee
- Performance: “Night of Dance: Reflections of African American Culture”; 7 p.m.
- Speaker: “Black Women in the Struggle for Black Freedom,” Dr. Courtney Pace, associate professor of church history and director of admissions, Memphis Theological Seminary; 9:30 a.m.
- Speaker: “Education and Race, Today,” Dr. William Carson Byrd, associate professor for the department of sociology, the University of Louisville; 11 a.m.
- Performance: “Gospel Music and the African American Experience,” Dr. Mark Simmons, UT Martin associate professor of music, and Henrietta Giles, UT Martin communications lecturer; 1 p.m.
- Speaker: “What I Gave and What I Got: Here I Am, LGBT in Tennessee,” Morgan Robertson, UT Martin alumna and Northwest Tennessee representative of the Tennessee Equality Project, and Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project; 2:30 p.m.
- Keynote speaker: “Toward a Radical Revolution of Values,” the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina conference of the NAACP; 7 p.m.; accompanied by a performance from the UT Martin Voices of Harmony
- National Civil Rights Museum trip, sponsored by Trinity Presbyterian Church in Martin; bus will leave the Boling University Center at 7:15 a.m.
The Feb. 12 panel discussion on “The Black Experience in the Classroom” will discuss how race affects African American students at a predominantly white institution. Four UT Martin students, one from each classification (freshman, sophomore, etc.), will serve as panelists.
The public is also invited to participate in the “Black Writers Reading Roundtable” from 3-4 p.m., Feb. 18, in the Hortense Parrish Writing Center. Volunteers may read a three to five-minute passage from a speech, essay, poem, creative non-fiction or fiction publication by an African American author that is related to the conference theme. Interested participants should contact Dr. Heidi Huse, assistant professor of English, no later than Feb.13 with their name and reading selection.
For more information about the Civil Rights Conference, contact Dr. David Barber, associate professor of history and conference organizer, at 731-881-7465.