Story by Lauren Epperson, Staff writer
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of desegregation at Murray State, three retired African-American Murray State professors will speak at 5 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Reflections from the Past event, to be held in the Curris Center.
“As millennials, we owe it to our predecessors to reflect, think critically, and engage with major sociopolitical movements like desegregations which have not always been conducive to societal comfort,” said Garris Stroud, senior from Greenville, Kentucky.
The Reflections from the Past will give Murray State students the opportunity to do just that. It will highlight a panel of speakers who have directly experienced desegregation. Pearl A. Payne, Jo-Ann Hammons and Steven H. Jones will all speak on the panel.
Payne and Hammons, Murray State alumni, will speak to the university community about their experiences as students during the times of segregation and desegregation.
Jones will speak about his experiences as an educator, as he was one of Murray State’s first seven African-American full-time professors.
“We hope that students and people who attend the session will get an idea of what it was like to be a minority African-American faculty member at various stages at Murray State University,” Jones said.
The community will also have the opportunity to learn about the history of desegregation at the university during the event. They will even show a short video about the first African-American Murray State graduates, including Nancy Tyler, who graduated in 1961.
“I think that this event is a really great opportunity for students to celebrate the steps we’ve taken towards equality at Murray State,” said Jennifer Wyatt, senior from Louisville, Kentucky. “This is my second year attending.”
The event is set to coincide with Organizational Communications Day and will put a focus on social networking as well as desegregation.
Reflections from the Past will begin with an opportunity for students to network on the concourse of the third floor of the Curris Center with the presenters, Organizational Communications Day alumni, Town and Gown guests, university-wide guests and Office of Regional Outreach guests.
“The purpose of both events is to expose students to networking with peers, supervisors and community members and to expose them to moderate to high-end events that include dining within professional workplace settings,” said Crystal Rae Coel, professor of organizational communications.
After the networking opportunity, students and guests will move to the ballroom for the banquet and program.
The event will begin with etiquette tips from event specialist and business developer James Owen Butler of “Gourmet Your Way, Inc.” in Jackson, Tennessee.
There will also be a brief overview of the history and program for Reflections from the Past by visiting distinguished professor of nonprofit leadership, Robert Long.
Students and guests will then partake in the banquet meal as the speakers share their journeys through desegregation.
“I would encourage my fellow students to attend and learn from their professors and their lived experiences,” Stroub said.
Reflections from the Past is free and will be open to the public; however, due to limited space, it is an RSVP only event.