Students in Dr. Jessie Wilkerson’s Southern Studies 506 Graduate Seminar in Southern LGBTQ History and Oral History Methods will present an oral history performance Wednesday, April 25 at 7pm at Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow the performance.
The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters has awarded Center publication The Mississippi Encyclopedia its 2018 Special Achievement Award, and John T. Edge, Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, has received the MIAL Nonfiction award for his book The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South.
On Tuesday, April 10 at 5:30 pm in Barnard Observatory, journalist Emily Yellin and photographer Darius B. Williams will give a public talk on Striking Voices, their multimedia journalism project based on in-depth, video interviews with Memphis sanitation workers who went on strike in 1968, and their wives and children. Martin Luther King was in town standing up for their cause when he was killed in Memphis 50 years ago.
In honor of the activism of many children and teenagers across the nation, we share two entries from The Mississippi Encyclopedia, one on the Children’s Crusade of Jackson, by historian Daphne Chamberlain, and another on activist Brenda Travis, by Ted Ownby. All photos are from the Moncrief Photograph Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and document activism in Hattiesburg.
Scholars researching the history of the South now have an opportunity for funded research in the collections of the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the J. D. Williams Library at the University of Mississippi. The Study the South research fellowship, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Department of Archives and Special Collections, will provide funding of $1,500 to one qualified scholar, who will also have access to a carrel in the library.
We like to occasionally post syllabi from Southern Studies courses, like Dr. Brian Foster’s SST 102: The Southern Protest Mixtape and Dr. Darren Grem’s course on southern music history. Today we share Dr. Jessie Wilkerson’s SST 560: Introduction to Oral History, which has as its theme “Documenting LGBTQ Histories in Mississippi.”
The blues—as a palette of intense, often contradictory feelings; a range of social conditions heavily inflected by blackness and southernness; an expressive form encompassing literature as well as music; and a philosophical orientation towards experience—are a more complex cultural phenomenon than some realize. This essay unpacks the latter two concepts: blues expressiveness and the blues ethos. Blues expressiveness is constituted by a range of cultural practices, including the AAB stanza, call and response procedure, vocalizations, blues-idiomatic language, and signifying. The blues ethos, too, offers multiple strategies for surviving bad times by refusing to reify the down-ness of the present moment as an inescapable condition, sometimes with the help of harsh, redemptive laughter. In this essay, Adam Gussow draws on a range of lyric, literary, and folkloristic commentary by Langston Hughes, Cornell West, Bessie Smith, Howard Odum, Kalamu ya Salaam, W. C. Handy, Angela Y. Davis, Lonnie Johnson, and many others. The essay also takes an autobiographical turn as Gussow mines his own bandstand and classroom experience with Mississippi-born blues performers Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee and Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry to illustrate the blues ethos in action.