Presidential debate commissioner to speak at UM’s Overby Center

Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, will lead a discussion Tuesday, April 10, at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics about the merits of holding the high-stakes political confrontation. The program – the fifth of the spring season at the Overby Center – will begin at 5:30 p.m. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Overby auditorium, and a reception will be held following the event. All Overby Center functions are free and open to the public. Brown, whose grandparents were residents of Como, has been a frequent visitor to the state and was instrumental in bringing the first 2008 debate to the Ole Miss campus. She is currently serving as a guest lecturer for two weeks at the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at Ole Miss.

New trail will track Mississippi’s literary history

The first markers on the new Mississippi Writers Trail will be be unveiled in August during the 2018 Mississippi Book Festival. Similar to the Mississippi music trails, the Writers Trail will be a compilation of historical markers honoring acclaimed and influential writers throughout the state, including William Faulkner, Jesmyn Ward, Richard Wright, Eudora Welty, Margaret Walker Alexander, Richard Ford and more. “Based on the nationwide success of efforts in Mississippi to tell the story of our state’s cultural heritage and music with markers such as the Blues Trail and Country Music Trail, we believe that the excitement and momentum to mark the cultural significance of Mississippi’s rich literary history through the construction of a new statewide Writers Trail is ready to begin,” said Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. ”Further, we believe that the creation of the Mississippi Writers Trail will help to promote economic development, tourism and civic pride within our state,” White said. The Mississippi Arts Commission, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Mississippi, Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Book Festival, Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Library Commission, announced the Writers Trail on Wednesday.

Group working to change state flag reports KKK threat

A group working to change the state flag, which is the last in the nation containing the Confederate battle emblem, says it received a YouTube video and warning from the Ku Klux Klan, WLOX TV reported. A man in the YouTube video posted by United Dixie White Knights says: “Y’all aren’t going to take down our flag. We gonna fight.” The video has since been taken down by YouTube. Mississippi Rising Coalition, the activist group working to remove the flag, held a press conference Wednesday in Ocean Springs to respond to the threat. “We believe you sent this to us with the intent not only to intimidate, but in the hopes that we would react publicly,” coalition president Lea Campbell said.

Charles Barkley’s gift pays off for Mississippi Delta students

NBA Hall of Famer and TV analyst Charles Barkley donated $250,000 to the Hernando-based Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi to help fund a digital history course on the contributions of African Americans in the sciences, academia, the arts, music and sports. The course will be taught to 4th-12th graders in the Mississippi Delta as part of the Community Digital Scholars Program, a partnership between the Community Foundation and EVERFI, an education technology company. “I was born and raised in rural Alabama at the dawn of the Civil Rights era,” Barkley said in a statement, “and I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to American heroes like Medgar Evers, John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Tom Pittman, Community Foundation president and CEO, said Barkley’s production company, Round Mound Media, will help create documentary content for the course in conjunction with Wondros, a Los Angeles-based creative and production agency. “We’re incredibly excited to work with the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi and Charles Barkley to offer this digital initiative that makes African-American history readily available and allows students in the Mississippi Delta to re-imagine how they see themselves through the lens of history,” said EVERFI CEO Tom Davidson. Tom Pittman is a member of Mississippi Today’s board of directors.

Judge extends order blocking ban on abortions

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves has extended his temporary block on the Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law, the strictest in the United States, on March 19. The state’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Clinic, sued the state immediately afterwards. Reeves issued a temporary restraining order March 20 to block the law for 10 days. On Wednesday, he extended the block until April 13, giving attorneys for the clinic and the state more time to work on legal arguments.