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Civil rights conference slated at University of TN at Martin

Civil rights conference slated at University of TN at Martin

Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 6:00 pm

The Messenger 02.15.12

One-half century after the height of the civil rights movement, the University of Tennessee at Martin’s 12th Annual Civil Rights Conference will ask whether the United States is “Still Separate and Unequal.”
The conference, running from Monday through Feb. 24, will be keynoted by Michelle Alexander, whose recent book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” argues that a new and more sophisticated form of segregation has replaced the old Jim Crow.
Ms. Alexander will address the Civil Rights Conference, titled “50 Years After the Civil Rights Movement: Still Separate and Unequal,” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in Boling University Center’s Watkins Auditorium.
A graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University, Ms. Alexander has served as the director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California and the Civil Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School. She was also a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun in the U. S. Supreme Court and Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Her book compares mass incarceration to the former Jim Crow Laws, as a means of racial control, a topic she will discuss in her address on Feb. 23. This will follow a performance by the UT Martin Collegiate Gospel Choir.
Native American Civil Rights Day events will take place Monday, beginning with an address by Mary Tidwell entitled “The Freedman’s Trail of Tears” at 3 p.m. in Watkins Auditorium. At 7 p.m., also in Watkins Auditorium, American Indian rights advocate Suzan Harjo will lead a discussion titled, “Treaties My Ancestors Made for Me.”
At noon and again at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Watkins Auditorium, Dr. Julie Hill, director of percussion studies at UT Martin, along with her percussion students, will present the percussion performance “Roots of Rhythm.” Designed to demonstrate the migration of rhythm through the slave trade, the performance will provide an engaging multi-sensory performance, encouraging students to observe how differing societies are formed and interact through music. There is a $5 admission for this event.
At 11 a.m. on Feb. 22, Bob Edgar, CEO of Common Cause advocacy organization, will speak on voter suppression and, at noon, the Not for Extra Credit Rally for Peace and Social Justice will be held between Boling University Center and the library. Also at noon, a roundtable discussion, “Celebrating Black Writers,” sponsored by the UT Martin Writing Center, will be held in the Andy Holt Humanities Building, Room 209.
At 1 p.m. a program on segregation and civil rights history of Jackson and Union City will be presented by UT Martin history students and, at 7 p.m., the Zeta Kappa chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi will sponsor the presentation “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement.”
On Feb. 23 at 9:30 a.m., writer and civil rights activist Ekwueme Michael Thelwell will begin the day’s events with a talk on “The Civil Rights Movement’s Significance.” Thelwell is the founding chairman of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and co-authored civil rights movement leader Stokely Carmichael’s autobiography, “Ready for Revolution.”
At 11 a.m., Dr. Bill Trent, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and investigator for an educational reform project focused on the role of race, ethnicity, class and gender in school reform, will speak on “The Re-segregation of America’s Public Education System.”
At 1 p.m., students from Dr. Henry Parker’s classes will speak on “Foreign Student Perceptions of American Racial Attitudes.”
At 2:30 p.m., Memphis actress Florence Roach, who appears in the recent film “The Help,” will lead a workshop on arts and the civil rights movement in Room 206 of the Boling University Center.
The conference will close at 7 p.m. with the keynote address by Alexander.
For more information, a complete schedule or reservations, call (731) 881-7465 or email The conference schedule can be found at

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