College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Sociologist Michael Eric Dyson to Deliver Keynote for Black History Month Events

JANUARY 26, 2015  |  BY EDWIN SMITH

Photo courtesy Michael Eric Dyson

Photo courtesy Michael Eric Dyson

Renowned author, educator and syndicated radio host Michael Eric Dyson is the featured speaker for University of Mississippi Black History Month observances in February.

Dyson, a sociology professor at Georgetown University, will deliver the keynote address at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 in Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at the Inn at Ole Miss. Admission is free and open to the public.

“I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Dyson speak at an MLK Day celebration several years ago,” said Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement and coordinator of the events. “He is a dynamic and engaging speaker who offers a provocative and fresh perspective on issues of race, politics and popular culture. The opportunity to hear his powerful message and voice is one our community won’t want to miss.”

All members of the campus community are welcome to take part in the upcoming events.

“We look forward to the opportunity to learn, honor and celebrate the achievements of African-Americans throughout history,” Mead said.

The observance officially begins Feb. 3 with a noon Kick-Off Celebration in the Student Union lobby. Featured participants are Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor for student affairs; Rosusan Bartee, professor of leadership and counselor education; and the UM Gospel Choir. Donald Cole, assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs and associate professor of mathematics, will present the 2015 Lift Every Voice Awards, which honor faculty and staff who have contributed to inclusion and diversity at the university. A reception follows.

Union Unplugged performances are scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Feb. 5, 10, 19 and 24. Entertainment will include the Gospel Choir on Feb. 19 and the Ole Miss African Drum and Dance Ensemble on Feb. 24.

Several film screenings are also scheduled. “Dear White People” shows at 5 p.m. Feb. 5 and again at 3 p.m. Feb. 8. Both screenings will be in the Turner Center auditorium. The satire on race relations at an Ivy League institution will be followed by a public discussion. On Feb. 7, a group of up to 30 UM students will travel to Memphis to see the Golden Globe-nominated feature film “Selma” and visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

A third film, “The New Black,” will be shown at 3 p.m. Feb. 12 in the Ole Miss Student Union Ballroom, Room 404.

The Luckyday Residential College dining hall will host a soul food luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 17. Students will be able to use their meal plans and faculty and staff will be able to purchase lunch at the regular rate. Complimentary tickets will be awarded throughout the month to students, faculty and staff in attendance at Black History Month events.

The observance continues Feb. 26 with an “Are You Ready?” dialogue at 5 p.m. at a location to be announced. Co-sponsored by the CICCE and the African-American Male Initiative, the discussion will focus on “Telling Our Stories: Living While Black-The African-American Male Experience.” The events conclude at 7:30 that evening with the Black History Month Concert in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, sponsored by the UM Department of Music.

“The Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement has worked to collaborate with other departments and student organizations to host Black History Month,” said Courtney Pearson, graduate assistant. “We have worked really hard to ensure that the events surrounding Black History Month are inclusive and engaging and are looking forward to interacting with those who come out.”

Dyson, who has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina and Columbia University, was the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University. He received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Carson-Newman College, graduating magnum cum laude, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in religion from Princeton University. His commentary on American culture has landed him on the “Nightline,” “Charlie Rose,” “Good Morning America,” “Today” and “Oprah” shows. He also has been on every major National Public Radio show.

Dyson has written for numerous academic publications, including Cultural Critique, Cultural Studies, DePaul Law Review, The Leadership Quarterly, New Art Examiner, JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Transition, Social Text, Religion and Literature, Theology Today, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, Princeton Seminary Bulletin and Black Sacred Music. He has been hailed for both his intellectual acuity and rhetorical gifts. As the Chronicle of Higher Education said, “He can rivet classroom(s) and chapel(s) alike with his oratory.” He has been called “one of the youngest stars in the firmament of black intellectuals” and lauded as “one of the most important voices of his generation.”

His 1993 debut, “Reflecting Black: African-American Culture Criticism,” won the Gustavus Myers Center for Human Rights Award in 1994. Dyson’s critically acclaimed follow-up, 1994’s “Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X,” was hailed as “a study that is as substantive and comprehensive as public criticism of such a figure can hope to be,” and was named Notable Book of 1994 by both The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

He has also written for scores of mass publications, including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Vibe magazine and Rolling Stone. Dyson has also been written about in Time, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, Current Biography and the New Yorker, and he has been featured in Essence, The Village Voice and on the cover of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Dyson has lectured across the nation and throughout the world in countless colleges, universities and public auditoriums. He won the 1992 Award of Excellence for Magazines from the National Association of Black Journalists.

For more information about UM Black History Month events, visit http://inclusion.olemiss.edu/ or call the Center for Inclusion at Cross Cultural Engagement at 662-915-2191.