The Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University has rescheduled its 50th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday Convocation and its 23rd annual For My People Awards. MLK Convocation will now be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, in the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium and the For My People Awards luncheon will immediately follow in the JSU Student Center Theater on campus. Dr. Joyce A. Ladner will be the keynote speaker.
The four honorees recognized for their commitment to the public preservation of African-American history and culture include: Dr. Joyce Ladner, 2018 MLK Convocation keynote speaker; Dr. Wilma Mosley Clopton, founder of NMHS Unlimited Film Productions; Dr. Maryemma Graham, distinguished professor Department of English, University of Kansas; and Mrs. Airea D. Matthews, recipient of the 2016 Yale Younger Poets Prize.
Ladner will also keynote the 50th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Birthday Convocation at 10 a.m. also on Friday, Jan. 12, in the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium. The convocation is free and open to the public.
A civil rights activist and scholar, Ladner’s career has been shaped by her first-hand involvement with the civil rights movement in Mississippi. The Hattiesburg native, began her fight for social justice as a teenager when she helped organize an NAACP Youth Chapter in her hometown.
In 1961, she was expelled from then Jackson State College for leading a civil rights protest and transferred to Tougaloo College. In 1963, she was jailed for a week for attempting to integrate the all-white Galloway Methodist Church in Jackson. Ladner was a friend and worked with slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, as well as civil rights pioneers Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker.
As a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Ladner was on the front lines of many major movement protests, including Greenwood, Birmingham, Albany, and Selma. As a staff member who organized the March on Washington in 1963, she worked alongside Bayard Rustin and other civil rights leaders and was on the stage when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his “I Have A Dream” speech.
An eminent sociologist, Ladner earned a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and had studied the intersectionality of race, gender and class. President Bill Clinton appointed her to the District of Columbia Financial Control Board, and she has been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her book, “Tomorrow’s Tomorrow: The Black Woman,” was the first book published in African-American Women’s Studies and is now an American classic. She has published six additional books and numerous articles.
Ladner went on to become a professor of sociology, provost and interim president at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Today, she is completing her memoir titled “Standing in the Gap: A Memoir of Resistance, Rebirth and Redemption,” which captures the spirit of her generation of young civil rights workers who challenged segregation and discrimination in the South and changed the face of America.