College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Youngest Pastor of Jackson’s Oldest Black Church to Deliver Keynote for Black History Month

UM alum co-founded the Department of Minority Affairs, was appointed to Chancellor’s Committee for Sensitivity

The co-founder of the Department of Minority Affairs at the University of Mississippi is the keynote speaker for the first in a series of Black History Month events scheduled for February.

The Rev. C. Edward “CJ” Rhodes II delivers the public address at noon Feb. 5 in the Ole Miss Student Union lobby. He will discuss the celebration of diversity and culture at the university. The UM Gospel Choir will perform and the Lift Every Voice Awards presented.

“I am very humbled and honored to be asked to deliver the keynote for such a historic occasion,” said Rhodes, the 23rd and youngest pastor of Mt. Helm Baptist Church, Jackson’s oldest historically black church. “This is the 50th year of the university’s integration, the assassination of Medgar Evers and Dr. King’s most memorable speech in Washington, D.C . As we look back on the achievements and sacrifices of those from the past, this generation is challenged to do great things not just for themselves, but for others and the world as well.”

The event is co-sponsored by the Black History Month planning committee, Office of the Provost and Multicultural Affairs, Office of the Dean of Students and Multicultural Affairs and Office of Campus Programming.

“The Black History Month committee is very pleased that Rev. Rhodes agreed to serve as this year’s Black History Month kickoff speaker,” said Valeria Ross, assistant to the UM dean of students. “During his tenure as a student, he worked with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, was appointed to the Chancellor’s Committee for Respect and Sensitivity, co-founded two college ministries and was an associate minister to youth and young adults at two local Baptist churches.”

The son of famed civil rights attorney Carroll Rhodes Sr., Rhodes earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2004. He continued his education at Duke Divinity School, where he served as vice president of the Black Seminarians Union in Raleigh, N.C.

Now ordained, Rhodes serves on the board of the Urban League of Greater Jackson, the Center for Ministry and the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, and is the former president of the Farish Street/Main Street Project. The recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, he also serves as host of “The CJ Rhodes Show” on WRBJ-97.7 FM and is author of “Thy Kingdom Come: Reflections on Pastoral and Prophetic Ministry.”

“If my address can inspire those who hear me to seek to change the world for the better, then I will have done my duty,” Rhodes said.

Other Black History Month dates and events scheduled include:

  • Feb. 1-28: “Featured Books” in Ole Miss Bookstore;
  • Feb. 6: Award-winning Poet Michael Warr reading;
  • Feb. 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at various locations in L-O-U community;
  • Feb. 7: “The Armageddon of Funk” poetry reading by Michael Warr reading at Bryant Hall beginning at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Feb. 7-28: “Independent Expression: Self-Taught Art of the Late 20th Century” art exhibition by Gordon W. Bailey at University Museums;
  • Feb. 19: Black History Month Concert
  • Feb. 21-23: Porter L. Fortune Jr. History Symposium featuring opening presentation “New Networks, African Slaves and the Reimaging of Information in the Colonial South” by Alejandra Dubcovsky of Yale University;
  • Feb. 22: Wollworth Sit-In Panel Discussion;
  • Feb. 21-24: Tenth Annual Oxford Film Festival, various times at the Malco Oxford Studios;
  • Feb. 15 and 28: 4th Annual “Because of Who You Are” Awards at various locations in LOU community;
  • Feb. 22: How to Use African American Primary Source Databases workshops at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in J.D. Williams Library Room 106D;
  • Feb. 25: T.P. Vinson Memorial Scholarship Banquet at 6:30 p.m. in Johnson Commons Ballroom;
  • Feb. 28: Stacey Floyd Thomas Lecture.

For a complete schedule of UM Black History Month events, contact Valeria Ross at 662-915-7247.