College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Project Featured on National Coalition Website


Gracing the Table demonstrates an African libation ceremony at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Image courtesy of Dr. Jodi Skipper.

Gracing the Table demonstrates an African libation ceremony at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Image courtesy of Jodi Skipper.

A University of Mississippi project is in the national spotlight after receiving an extended profile on the new Humanities for All website for the National Humanities Alliance.

Behind the Big House was among 51 projects, chosen from 1,402 featured programs, to receive an extended profile on the website for the national coalition, which seeks to showcase the full range of higher education-based public-engaged humanities initiatives throughout the country.

Behind the Big House is a community-driven tour and programming series that illuminates the African American history of grand historic homes in Holly Springs. The project has been integrated into the coursework of Southern studies, African diaspora studies and archaeology programs at UM.

Here’s an excerpt from the Humanities for All website:

“Beginning in 2012, Jodi Skipper, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology and Southern Studies, has supported this grassroots project’s preservation, interpretation, and education efforts. In addition to producing content and curricular materials, Skipper has integrated Behind the Big House into University of Mississippi coursework in Southern Studies, African diaspora studies, and archaeology.

By integrating Behind the Big House into her teaching, Skipper enriches the learning experience with experiential and service learning.

“Students in my heritage tourism and African diaspora courses work as program guides each year. For them, it is an experiential and service-learning project. Several are repeat volunteers and have used the program as a stepping stool to doing other forms of public work in the state,” Skipper notes. “My colleague, Dr. Carolyn Freiwald, an assistant professor of anthropology, and I began an excavation at one of the slave dwelling sites several years ago and that project continues. It has given our anthropology students opportunities to excavate, as well as interpret the recovered information to program visitors.”

Nineteen other projects throughout Mississippi were included on the website, including Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership – an 18-month collaboration between the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University and UM journalism professor Alysia Burton Steele.

Visit to learn more about the organization.