DSU prepares to win diversity race
by Paisley Boston
Feb 27, 2014 | 2203 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Committee members unveil the logo for "Winning the Race: A Conference on Diversity and Community” at a press conference on Wednesday. Committee members are Georgene Clark (left), Garry Jennings, Paulette Meikle-Yaw and DSU President William N. LaForge.
Committee members unveil the logo for "Winning the Race: A Conference on Diversity and Community” at a press conference on Wednesday. Committee members are Georgene Clark (left), Garry Jennings, Paulette Meikle-Yaw and DSU President William N. LaForge.
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Delta State University held its "Winning the Race" press conference Wednesday to discuss the university's upcoming conference on diversity.

"This conference will serve our community simultaneously and I am very proud of it. It presents who we are, what we are and where we are in the Mississippi Delta. We are a multicultural mecca," said President Bill LaForge.

The inaugural “Winning the Race” conference will focus on the Delta State University family — students, faculty, staff — but will also offer a wide selection of sessions for all attendees with topics such as music, media, Civil Rights history, religion and healthcare.

The date of the conference is March 18-19 on the Delta State campus.

It will provide an opportunity for dialogue with top-level experts who will enlighten and advance understanding and appreciation for our differences and common challenges.

"This is an important day for our family. It is such a huge milestone for programs. We are the most predominantly diverse university in the Delta. With this conference, we are celebrating multicultural identity by embracing our history and heritage," said LaForge

"We have created an event that will help us chant our multicultural identity. This conference will serve as a reflection of how far we have become and where we are going," he added.

The purpose of the conference is to ignite conversations with campus and community constituencies that will build an appreciation for diversity differences and a spirit of community through shared ideas.

It is also a tool to promote a broad discourse on race relations by building conversations to bring together diverse communities in the Delta through the sharing of ideas and building cooperation.

"We are trying to provide a catalyst for a conversation that is long overdue. We have something for everyone and we would like for the entire community to come out and take part in this event," said Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of Composition Georgene Clark.

"It took a lot of intensive labor to put this conference together," she added.

The conference will attempt to rekindle a hope that Delta communities will move toward greater equality, forward and open thinking, while reducing racial disparities and tensions.

Featured speakers for the conference include author John Dittmer, Congressman Bennie Thompson and Gov. William Winter.

Dittmer is an award winning author and professor of history at DePauw University.

He is a nationally recognized authority on the Civil Rights Movement.

Thompson is Mississippi's District Two Congressman and has long been known for his work with race relations.

He is the longest serving African American elected official in the State of Mississippi.

Thompson is the product of the Civil Rights movement; he has supported numerous bills that aim to improve the lives of minority individuals.

Winter has served Mississippi in numerous political capacities. His dedication to racial equality and the establishment of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi has brought him international renown.

In June of 1997, Winter was appointed by President Bill Clinton as a member of the National Advisory Board on Race Relations.

"We chose speakers who could ignite active conversation among our audience and offer insight on diverse issues," said Clark.

According to LaForge, diversity has been a cornerstone of conversation at the dinner table and now it is going to be a communitywide discussion.

"This year we are looking in our own backyard and focusing on the diversity in our community. We plan to host this conference every year in the spring and it is open to the public," he added.

"Programs like this don’t just come out of thin air. It is going to be a spectacular event. I have learned that the imagination of my staff is boundless. I really commend our faculty for all of the hard work that they have done," continued LaForge.

For more information or to register, visit deltastate.edu/winningtherace.