Denise Gee

Three Roads to Magdalena author David Wallace Adams receives Weber-Clements Book Prize Nov. 15, 2017

Three Roads to Magdalena coverAcclaimed as a unique and enduring window into borderlands history, David Wallace Adams’ 2016 book, Three Roads to Magdalena: Coming of Age in a Southwest Borderland, 1890-1990, received this year’s Weber-Clements Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. The public event was hosted by the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

Three Roads to Magdalena is a unique blend of oral, social and childhood history about a region of New Mexico that Adams fell in love with while serving as curriculum director at a Navajo Reservation school in Alamo, New Mexico. Thirty miles to the northwest was Magdalena, a once-booming frontier town where Navajo, Anglo and Hispanic people have lived in shifting, sometimes separate, sometimes overlapping worlds for well over a century.

Adams’ time as a Clements Center Fellow from 2005-06 afforded him the opportunity to hone several thousand pages of multi-faceted, highly personal research he had collected into what would become this 454-page book, published by University Press of Kansas.

David Wallace Adams, kroberts@abqjournal.com

David Wallace Adams

Now professor emeritus of history and education at Cleveland State University in Ohio, Adams teaches courses about the American West and Native American history. He also is the author of the acclaimed 1995 book, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928.

The Weber-Clements Award, overseen by the Western History Association (WHA), honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book on Southwestern life published in the year prior to its selection. The winning author receives $2,500.

Three Roads to Magdalena “draws upon a precious trove of interviews to explain what it was like growing up in this multicultural borderland during the late 19th and 20th centuries,” WHA judges noted. “From the hazy, tactile memories of early childhood through the hot and precise recollections of adolescent adventures, people across the region shared moving and intimate stories of the kind historians are seldom privileged enough to hear. Balancing critical distance with insight, humor and compassion, Adams has woven these recollections together into a book that is wise, challenging, absorbing, ingeniously researched and beautifully written.”

SMU history professor Neil Foley recently made the book required reading in his graduate-level class, “Citizenship and Transnational Identity.” When Foley learned that two of his assigned books had been considered for the Weber-Clements Prize, “I decided to ask the students, ‘If you were on the prize committee, which one of these two finalists do you think should win?’ After a straw poll, the students unanimously agreed Three Roads to Magdalena should take the prize. And to everyone’s delight, Foley informed the class that Adams’ book did win.

“That just goes to show you don’t have to be a professional historian to write good history [Adams has a doctorate in education] – and you don’t need to be a professional historian to know when you’re reading good history,” Foley says.

— Written by Denise Gee

New book on Holocaust Poland commemorates 10th anniversary of SMU human rights program

'No Resting Place' book coverBearing witness to Poland’s deep physical and emotional scars that linger long after World War II – when the Nazis made the country the epicenter of the Holocaust – is the focus of a new book by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland (Terrace Partners, $39.95) combines more than 200 contemporary photos of occupied Poland’s deadliest Holocaust sites with historical vignettes and poignant observations from those who have experienced one of the most comprehensive, longest-running Shoah study trips offered by a U.S. university.

> Read a preview of No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland

Each December, the two-week “Holocaust Poland” trip – led for more than 20 years by SMU Prof. Rick Halperin – exposes students and lifelong learners to the Third Reich’s genocidal “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Both the trip and book are meant to ensure historical remembrance and “history as warning,” says history professor and co-author Halperin. “In our increasingly polarized world, where hate crimes against Jews and Muslims are on the rise, the need for tolerance and understanding has never been greater.”

Dallas philanthropist and SMU alumna Lauren Embrey (’80, ’06) couldn’t agree more. Embrey’s life would be profoundly changed by the 2005 “Holocaust Poland” pilgrimage she took while pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) degree at SMU. In 2006, Lauren, her sister Gayle, and their Embrey Family Foundation funded the pioneering Embrey Human Rights Program, led by Halperin, within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. In 2012, enthusiasm for the program allowed SMU to go from offering a human rights minor and MLS concentration in human rights and social justice to providing a Bachelor of Arts degree in the field, making SMU one of only five U.S. universities to do so. (Since then, two others have followed suit.)

Since Halperin began leading SMU study trips to Poland in 1996, the number of participants has grown from a handful to more than three dozen who went on the 20th anniversary pilgrimage in 2016 (including two dozen students able to travel thanks to a gift from SMU alumnus Mike Disque ’64 and his wife, Cherri). To commemorate the program’s 10th anniversary and trip’s second decade, Halperin teamed up with SMU colleagues Sherry Aikman and Denise Gee to create No Resting Place.

The trio’s primary objective was to produce a book sensitively depicting “the last places ever seen by millions of innocent people who didn’t want to die in such horrific places,” Halperin says. “And unlike most other Holocaust books we wanted this one to be produced in color – because the Holocaust happened in color.”

— Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

Tune In: SMU welcomes the Class of 2020

SMU welcomed new students to the Hilltop in August with five days of learning, bonding and exploring their new home. Throughout the week, University reporters and photographers captured the Class of 2020 at Mustang Corral and in the Discover Dallas program.

Opening Convocation

Now their photos, social media posts, and a new video by SMU News’ Myles Taylor are gathered at one link. Visit SMU News for many more dispatches from Move-in Day, Camp Corral, the 2016 Opening Convocation, the making of the class photo and more.

> Relive the SMU Class of 2020’s week of welcome here

SMU’s Tower Center hosts prominent experts to discuss ‘The Rise of ISIS’ at a public event Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015

'Black Flags, The Rise of ISIS' book coverISIS conquered vast stretches of territory in Iraq and Syria during the past year. The Iraqi Army dissolved in its path, despite years of training and billions of dollars of U.S. aid, raising a series of questions:

  • Why did ISIS succeed where other terrorist groups have failed?
  • Why was Iraq unable to stop it?
  • What are the consequences for U.S. national security and strategy in the Middle East?

The authors of two compelling new books will discuss “The Rise of ISIS” at a public discussion at SMU Thursday, Nov. 5. The free event, sponsored by the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, takes place 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall. To RSVP, e-mail the Tower Center.

> Follow the Tower Center on Twitter: @SMUTowerCenter

Joshua RovnerTower Center Distinguished Chair of International Politics and National Security Joshua Rovner, author of the award-winning book Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence (Cornell University Press 2011), will serve as event moderator. Rovner calls the guest speakers “superstars from journalism and academia”:

Joby WarrickJoby Warrick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and investigative reporter for The Washington Post, who is an expert on intelligence, diplomacy and security in the Middle East and South Asia. His new book, Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS (Doubleday 2015), chronicles the rapid rise of a strain of militant Islam, born in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents.

Warrick also is author of The Triple Agent (Doubleday 2011), the true story of an al-Qaeda spy who led the CIA into a deadly trap at Khost, Afghanistan, in 2009.

> Listen to Joby Warrick talk about Black Flags on NPR’s “Fresh Air” audio or podcast

Caitlin TalmadgeCaitlin Talmadge, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she is an expert on national security and military operations. Talmadge also has been a Council of Foreign Relations fellow and a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense.

'The Dictator's Army' book coverHer ground-breaking new book, The Dictator’s Army: Battlefield Effectiveness in Authoritarian Regimes (Cornell University Press 2015), offers an important new argument about why authoritarian militaries sometimes fight very well — or very poorly. Talmadge also is co-author of U.S. Defense Politics: The Origins of Security Policy (Routledge 2008).

For more information, visit the Tower Center website or call 214-768-3954.

Visit the Tower Center on Facebook: facebook.com/towercenter

– Denise Gee

Lyda Hill receives SMU’s 2015 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

Lyda HillLyda Hill, whose philanthropy is guided by the credo that “science is the answer,” received the 2015 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility at a luncheon on Thursday, April 2 at Dallas’ Belo Mansion. The annual award honors a community leader who exemplifies ethical, inspiring leadership.

Hill, president of the real estate, tourism and venture investment firm LH Holdings, and granddaughter of oilman H. L. Hunt, has spent her life dedicated to what she calls “balancing profit with a purpose.”

“I really believe that whether we’re talking hunger, poverty, cancer, you name it, science is where we’ll find the answers,” she told Philanthropy in 2014, adding that her focus is on “things that are going to make a big difference to a lot of people for a long time.”

“Over the past several years Lyda’s zest for adventure has been surpassed by the sheer joy she derives from making transformational gifts to organizations and causes dedicated to making Dallas a better community in which to live and work,” says Bobby B. Lyle ’67, vice-chairman of the Maguire Center advisory board, longtime SMU trustee and namesake of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering.

Lyle says Hill “has set audacious goals for her philanthropy,” with interests ranging from education to medical research to healthcare and human services for the elderly. “In whatever she undertakes, she sets the bar high and leads by example,” he says. “Many of her gifts are given quietly, without fanfare. Others are legendary. And all are having a tremendous positive impact on lives throughout our city and across the nation.”

In 2010 Hill became a member of The Giving Pledge, created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit a majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Hill has pledged to donate all of her assets to charity, the bulk of it during her lifetime. She was recognized in 2013 as the only single woman on the Philanthropy list of most generous donors, having now given an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars to “game-changing” charities primarily focused on life-sciences research.

Rita Kirk, director of the Maguire Center, notes that Hill quotes Walt Disney on her foundation’s website. “Like Disney, Lyda Hill makes it ‘fun to do the impossible.’ She understands the strategic use of her resources, the magic created when people dare to dream greatly, and the impact strategic giving can have on our community – and even the world.”

Hill was a founder of the Oklahoma Breast Care Center as well as Remeditex Ventures, which supports early biomedical research by universities and health care institutions “that can take promising advances to the marketplace quickly,” she says.

Her philanthropic support of the life sciences includes her $50 million gift pledged to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program, which aims to eliminate cancer through improved cancer-detection techniques and therapeutic treatments that Hill, a breast cancer survivor, hopes will “break cancer’s code.”

Hill also has donated $20 million to her alma mater, The Hockaday School, to fund a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program; $10 million to the “I Stand for Parkland” capital campaign; and $6 million in pledges to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the Center for Brain Health to help military service members and veterans recover from traumatic brain injuries.

Hill has helped a variety of environmental/marine conservation efforts through the Nature Conservancy and Pew Charitable Trusts. She also has supported such community-revitalization projects as Klyde Warren Park, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (named for her mother) and The Trinity Trust.

Past winners of the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award, now in its 18th year, include Gail Griffin Thomas, Nancy Ann & Ray Hunt, Walter J. Humann, Ruth S. Altshuler, Bob Buford, Ronald G. Steinhart, Michael M. Boone, Zan W. Holmes Jr., Roger Staubach, Caren Prothro, Tom Luce, Ron Anderson, Jack Lowe Jr., William T. Solomon, Stanley H. Marcus, Charles C. Sprague and Curtis W. Meadows Jr.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

Dedman School of Law honors five as 2015 Distinguished Alumni

Five successful legal, business and public service professionals were honored with the highest awards given by SMU’s Dedman School of Law at its 28th annual Distinguished Law Alumni Awards Thursday, March 19, 2015.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the most prestigious award Dedman Law can bestow upon its alumni. An alumni committee selects recipients who are standouts in their respective fields, and an honorary award given at the invitation-only ceremony also acknowledges exceptional service to the law school.

This year’s awards and recipients were:

Mary Elizabeth Cedillo-PereiraMary Elizabeth Cedillo-Pereira ’99, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award – “Liz” Cedillo-Pereira is the managing attorney with Cedillo-Pereira and Associates PLLC, an immigration and nationality law practice that represents individuals, families, businesses and government entities. She is board certified in immigration and nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and lectures on immigration law as a faculty member with the UT School of Law Immigration Law conference and the State Bar of Texas Immigration law course. In 2007 she co-founded the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Dallas’ “Know Your Rights” project for detained individuals. She also is a member of AILA’s Military Assistance Program as well as Dream Defenders.

Siriporn ChaiyasutaSiriporn Chaiyasuta ’85, 2015 Distinguished Global Alumni Award – Based in London, Chaiyasuta is general counsel for Chevron Europe, Eurasia and Middle East Exploration & Production Limited. She leads a team of more than 50 lawyers and manages Chevron’s legal portfolio for all exploration and production business in the region, harboring the world’s most productive oil and gas basins in 14 countries of the North Sea and Caspian Region of the Middle East, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Her many awards and honors include the “Royal Decoration Knight Grand Cross” (First Class) of Direkgunabhon and Thailand’s “In-House Counsel of the Year” Award.

G. Michael GruberG. Michael Gruber ’81, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for Private Practice – “Mike” Gruber is a founding partner of Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail Shank LLP. Primarily a defense attorney, his successes include a $125 million dollar judgment involving Blockbuster in favor of its first major investors, a $30 million dollar verdict against Shell Oil in a fraud case, and a more than $18 million dollar verdict against pharmaceutical company Hoffman-Laroche in one of the largest sexual harassment verdicts in the country. This year, he took the soon-to-be decided Wellness v. Sharif case, on bankruptcy court and federal magistrate jurisdiction, to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has received the Sager Award from The Minority Corporate Counsel Association, which recognizes the Southwest’s most diverse law firms. He has also been named a “Texas Super Lawyer” for more than 10 years and, since 2008, D Magazine has recognized him as a “Best Lawyer in Dallas” for business litigation.

William O. Holston Jr.William O. Holston, Jr., ’81, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service – “Bill” Holston is executive director of Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas. Before joining HRI in 2012 he volunteered his services for the organization, founded in 2000 to provide legal and support services to refugees and immigrants who have suffered human rights abuses, as well as to advocate for justice and promote international human rights. In 1997, he received the “Outstanding Political Asylum Lawyer Award” from the Dallas Bar Association; in 2002, the “Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award” from the Dallas Bar Association’s Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program; in 2005, the “Angel of Freedom Award” from HRI; and in 2014, the “President’s Award” from the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association.

Joseph W. McKnightJoseph W. McKnight, 2015 Honorary Alumnus Award – “Joe” McKnight, Professor Emeritus of Law and Larry and Jane Harlan Faculty Fellow Emeritus at SMU Dedman School of Law, has made historic contributions to legal scholarship and law reform in Texas. Before joining the law faculty at SMU in 1955, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas before serving as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he received a B.A. degree, a B.C.L. degree, and an M.A. degree. Professor McKnight would later receive his LL.M. degree from Columbia University. McKnight is a nationally recognized authority on legal history and family and marital property law. He and co-author, W.A. Reppy, Jr., have produced ten editions of their 1983 casebook, Texas Matrimonial Property Law, and McKnight was general editor and author of Creditor’s Rights in Texas.

Additionally, McKnight directed the Texas Family Code project, helping achieve significant reform, and was the principal drafter of the Texas Matrimonial Property Act, recognizing property rights of married women. He also has been a major drafter of other important Texas statutes.

During the past six decades, McKnight established and contributed to an invaluable collection of rare legal books at SMU Dedman Law. The collection is one of the largest of its kind in the nation, with the collection’s oldest book published in 1481.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

$1.5 million gift establishes SMU endowed chair in the legal rights and protection of children

Jack D. Knox

Jack D. Knox ’60, ’63

A $1.5 million gift from North Texas business leader Jack D. Knox ’60 ’63 will establish a new endowed professorship in SMU’s Dedman School of Law.

The Jack Knox Chair in the Rights and Protection of Children will support teaching, research and publishing on legal issues related to protecting the welfare and legal rights of children.

“Jack Knox’s gift will enable the law school to further its teaching and scholarship on children’s rights,” said SMU Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law Jennifer M. Collins. Dean Collins joined the Law School in July 2014 as an academic leader and nationally recognized scholar on the intersection of family and criminal law. “Endowment gifts like this provide critical support for our commitment to excellence in the classroom and continued cutting-edge, impactful work by our faculty.”

“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Knox for his gift, which not only will make a difference in the lives of children but also will advance the academic offerings of one of the nation’s top law schools,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Our law graduates will be more aware of the important social and personal issues affecting children and will be trained in protecting their legal rights.”

Knox, a native of Weatherford, Texas, received a B.A. degree in English from SMU in 1960 and a J.D. degree from what is now Dedman School of Law in 1963. In 2011, Knox was honored with the Robert G. Storey Award for Distinguished Achievement, the highest honor bestowed by the Law School. He is general partner of Six Flags Over Texas Fund Ltd., a private limited investment group overseeing real estate assets of Six Flags Over Texas. He also is owner of Café Pacific Restaurants Inc., parent company of the popular restaurant, which has been based in Dallas’ Highland Park Village for 34 years.

“It’s an honor to help my alma mater empower the next generation of legal professionals by providing them with a strong understanding of what the issues are and the knowledge and drive to develop better laws and policies to protect children’s welfare and rights,” Knox said.

The Jack Knox Chair counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, and advances the campaign’s goal to reach 110 endowed faculty positions. To date the campaign has raised more than $902 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

 

SMU to honor global and local human rights champions with inaugural ‘Triumph of the Spirit’ awards Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014

Eliana Elias

Eliana Elias

Peruvian champion of indigenous women’s rights Eliana Elias and global-minded local educator Bhavani Parpia will be honored at SMU Wednesday, Nov. 12 as the first two recipients of Embrey Human Rights Program Triumph of the Spirit Awards. The awards carry a combined $30,000 in funding for the recipients made possible by an anonymous supporter of SMU’s undergraduate human rights program.

The inaugural Triumph of the Spirit event will include a 7 p.m. dinner in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom and 6 p.m. courtyard reception. The evening will feature interviews with Elias, Parpia and other human rights leaders, a mix of music and spoken-word performances and mixed-media art by past and present Embrey Human Rights Program students.

Bhavani Parpia

Bhavani Parpia

Reserved tables and individual tickets for the event are available at various sponsorship levels. For details, visit SMU’s Triumph of the Spirit ticketing page, call 214-768-3241 or contact Bradley Klein.

The Triumph of the Spirit Awards aim to “reward people doing great work for others, sometimes at great risk to themselves,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. “The awards represent a microcosm of life-changing work being done locally and around the world on issues affecting everyone. The awards also are meant to give us all hope that change can be made even by small steps of awareness and action.”

Elias and Parpia were selected for Triumph of the Spirit Awards from among several dozen human rights defenders nominated for providing selfless work on behalf of individuals and communities. The award selection committee, comprised of 19 SMU faculty and staff members, University alumni and regional community leaders and activists, chose Elias and Parpia for work best exemplifying the missions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Embrey Human Rights Program.

Global Award/$25,000 recipient: Eliana Elias

Eliana Elias has worked more than two decades in the Peruvian Amazon and other rural areas to engage and empower indigenous women and activists about their human rights.

As an expert in intercultural communications for social change, Elias has helped hundreds of non-governmental organizations and indigenous groups develop ways to strengthen leadership, education, health and conservation initiatives.

In 1998, Elias co-founded Minga Peru, an award-winning model geared to improving communication, gender equity and social change. Since then her work has been recognized and rewarded by groups including the Clinton School for Public Service in Arkansas, the Global Philanthropy Forum, Funders without Borders, Family Funders and Funders for Human Rights.

Regional Dallas Award/$5,000 recipient: Bhavani Parpia

Montessori teacher Bhavani Parpia is founder of the educational nonprofit ConnecTeach, helping underserved communities in South Asia and the Middle East improve the quality of education for hundreds of thousands of children one teacher at a time.

Parpia also serves as district world languages coordinator for the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District (HEB ISD), where she develops and oversees Arabic, Chinese and Hindi programs.

Before joining HEB ISD, Parpia founded the Primary School at North Hills Preparatory in Irving. Under her leadership, North Hills was ranked 13th-best performing school in the United States, and in 2013 she received the World Affairs Council International Educator of the Year award.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU experts join KERA for Freedom Summer 50th anniversary film preview & panel discussion Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Freedom Riders Julia Aaron and David Dennis

Julia Aaron, left, and David Dennis participated in a Freedom Ride from from Montgomery, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. The Freedom Riders paved the way for Freedom Summer student volunteers. Photo credit: Paul Schutzer via ‘Freedom Riders’ c/o PBS

During the summer of 1964, more than 700 student volunteers joined with thousands of organizers and local African Americans to register new voters in Mississippi.

The violence that followed included the murders of three civil rights workers and the burning of dozens of churches, homes and community centers. Public outrage against these acts helped spur the U.S. Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In honor of Freedom Summer’s 50th anniversary, two SMU experts will join a former student activist and UNT law professor for KERA’s Freedom Summer Community Screening and Panel Discussion.

The screening and discussion take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2014 in KERA’s Community Room, 3000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas. Admission is free; advance registration is required by 5:30 p.m. on the day. For details, contact engage@kera.org.

The event – which includes a preview of the June 24 PBS show “Voices of Freedom Summer” – is sponsored by KERA and the Embrey Family Foundation/SMU Embrey Human Rights Program with support from the South Dallas Cultural Center and the Dallas Faces Race think-tank.

“The racist issues civil rights activists confronted, primarily to ensure voting rights, aren’t just in the pages of history. They’re deeply entrenched to this day, but perhaps not as overtly visible,” says SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, event moderator.

Featured panelists include:

Ernie McMillan, a Dallas native and former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Student Congress On Racial Equality (SCORE). McMillan was an integral part of Texas-based civil rights demonstrations that, although often successful, led to his imprisonment for more than three years.

Dennis Simon, SMU’s Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of political science in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and organizer of SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage, now in its 10th year.

Cheryl Brown Wattley, a University of North Texas law professor who spent more than 21 years in private practice, primarily as a criminal defense attorney and civil rights litigator. At UNT she is director of Experiential Education and teach courses in professional skills, criminal law, and professionalism.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story at SMU News

SMU celebrates human rights heroes and the anniversary of its Civil Rights Pilgrimage on Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jerry Mitchell and Joanne Bland

Civil rights icons Jerry Mitchell and Joanne Bland hold a conversation at SMU as part of the University’s 10th anniversary celebration of its Civil Rights Pilgrimage program. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.

SMU celebrates civil and human rights at two events on Thursday, April 10 – awarding the Robert O. Cooper Peace and Justice Fellowship to a veteran of the civil rights movement and the William K. McElvaney Peace and Justice Award to an SMU student, as well as marking the 10th anniversary of the University’s annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage (CRP).

The CRP anniversary celebration begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. The program, which is free and open to the public, will feature a conversation between civil rights activist and “Bloody Sunday” survivor Joanne Bland and Jackson (Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell. Mitchell’s work has been instrumental in the cold-case convictions of men responsible for some of the most heinous crimes of the civil rights era, including the assassination of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers in 1963 and the firebombing death of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer in 1966.

Earlier in the day, Bland received the Robert O. Cooper Peace and Justice Fellowship at an event hosted by SMU’s Office of the Chaplain. At the same ceremony, SMU student Melissa Maguire received the William K. McElvaney Peace and Justice Award.

Bland has been actively involved in the civil rights movement since 1961, when as an 8-year-old child she attended a voting rights meeting presided over by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. She joined other children and teenagers in the civil rights movement as a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. She was only 11 on March 7, 1965, when she was severely beaten and driven back across the Edmund Pettus Bridge by police determined to stop a group making a voting rights march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery.

Bland is co-founder and director of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, and is well known to SMU civil rights pilgrims who meet with her as they travel across the south every spring to learn about the tragedies and triumphs of the American civil rights movement. An Army veteran, Bland has told her personal story at conferences and workshops across the country, including at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Melissa Maguire

Melissa Maguire

Melissa Maguire received the McElvaney Award for her personal commitment and leadership to the causes of human rights, human welfare and social justice. She was a student coordinator for the 2014 SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage, co-chaired the presentation of The Vagina Monologues in February by SMU’s Women’s Interest Network, and has travelled to Holocaust sites in Poland with SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

Maguire is an SMU senior majoring in English, Spanish and human rights with minors in women and gender studies, history and psychology. She is a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, the Women’s Interest Network and Order of Omega. Upon graduation, Maguire plans to enter the non-profit sector.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

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