It’s not often people gather in person these days to talk constructively about education and politics. These days, social media provides something of a safe haven to express one’s views in anonymity (or at least the comfort of being alone with the tech device of your choice) without the apparent hassle of research or basing expressions online in actual life or work experiences.So, in light of the current state of public discourse, it was a delight to have attended the Black History Forum at the Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center on Feb. 23, presented by the M2M program, based on the campus. Civil and enlightening, it was the stuff C-SPAN is made of – a good thing, of course.
A quartet of four-member panels took turns giving insights on four subjects – the educational divide in African-American society, how to overcome adversity, the importance of the black vote and attainment of success.
Current and retired Hinds employees put forth their thoughts, as did those on the panel from outside the college.
“The cycle of poverty centers on the lack of delayed gratification,” said Sharon Turner-Davis, instructor of Sociology at JATC and panelist on the discussion of the educational divide. “Instead, it’s instant gratification. Students spend so much time to have those material things that they lose sight of their education.”
Garrad Lee, who instructs History at JATC, spoke on the pitfalls of “fuzzy information” when it comes to aspects of voting rights and voter registration, such as whether having any criminal record at all affects the right to vote. “We have to re-educate the electorate as to who can vote,” Lee said.
Retired Hinds employee Dr. Eldridge Henderson, president of the Action Leaders Forum-369, put the onus on parents to stress the importance of registering to vote from the moment a teen turns 18.
“When I got the chance to vote, it was through federal marshals,” Henderson said. “You have this chance to vote, ladies and gentlemen, and you had better use it before you lose it. You had better vote, you had better vote every time – for someone.”
Dr. Hursie Davis-Sullivan, a physician at Sullivan Family Medical Clinic in Jackson, mentioned children often follow the same values systems they saw while growing up.
“We teach children very early in life, ‘This is your car, this is your house. The more money you have, the more value you have,’ ” she said. “We don’t promote academics to our young African-American males and don’t allow them to create a balance with athletics.”
Speaking to the emerging college grads in the room, author C. Liegh McInnis, who instructs English at Jackson State University, touched on the importance of planning and that the best minds don’t ever truly rest.
“You’ve got to choose the thing about which you are passionate,” McInnis said. “Successful people do not work from 9 to 5. They work from the moment the sun rises until it sets. If you don’t have a job about which you are passionate, then you won’t be successful.”
All 16 people on the program got to contribute something to the forum in the allotted two-hour time frame, which speaks well of program organizers. Dr. Linda Pates, who instructs Business & Office Technology at JATC, had the toughest job of the day, which was to remind each panelist when their speaking time was up. Special kudos are well-deserved there, what with attorneys and political activists on the dais.
Overall, not too shabby an event for M2M since undergoing makeover for this semester.
No, they didn’t achieve world peace in the Alexander Building that day. But, they achieved something seemingly on its way to being as tough a target – civility!
The balance of the panel for the forum was, in alphabetical order, Megan Ainsworth, English instructor at JATC; Cassio Batteast, director of the M.A.N. U.P.! Project at Tougaloo College; Jessica Catchings, an attorney for the Mississippi Center for Justice; Larry May, assistant professor of Finance at Jackson State University; Joseph Howard, Adult Basic Education Lab tutor at JATC, Dr. Terrence James, Career-Technical Education coordinator for the Vicksburg-Warren School District; Rukia Lumumba, founder of The People’s Advocacy Center; Thalamus Marshall, Electronics & Telecommunications Technology instructor at JATC; Treshika Melvin, an advocate with the Southern Poverty Law Center; Melvin Pace, an attorney with Pace Law Firm; Kedra Pope, alderwoman for the Town of Edwards; and Hinds County Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace.