Civil Rights convention to happen in particular person this summer season

The tenth annual national civil rights conference is taking place at Miami University this summer.

The conference was originally scheduled for June 2020 but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference will now take place on June 21 and 22, 2021. This year’s theme is “Promotion, Advocacy, Education and Collaboration: The Challenge of Change”.

A pre-conference will be held on June 20 at Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Mississippi. A memorial will be held at the pre-conference to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner who were killed during the Freedom Summer events of 1964.

Anthony James, Miami’s vice president of institutional diversity and inclusion, said the conference was going as planned, although the pandemic is still an obstacle to the occurrence of personal events.

“Some people will be there, but we will also have some people attending remotely,” James wrote in an email to The Miami Student.

Miami was chosen as the venue for this year’s conference, in part because of the university’s role as a co-sponsor. Keith Parker, chairman of the planning committee and co-founder and CEO of the conference, said another reason Miami was chosen was because of its past and its commitment to civil rights.

“I was extremely impressed with President Crawford’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Parker. “And of course, Miami University has a long history of social justice engagement that dates back to the time of the Western College for Women.”

Jacqueline Johnson, Miami’s university archivist and principal librarian, served on eight out of ten meetings on the planning committee of the National Civil Rights Conference.

“Our goal is really to get as many people as possible to participate, especially those from the Miami University community,” said Johnson.

In addition to local attendees, middle and high school students, some of whom are non-state, will also attend.

“We’re going to have some of the attendees in what is called a mobile classroom,” said Parker. “They will travel from Louisiana, which will take about 15 hours, but they will stop along the way and visit several civil rights chambers.”

Some of the planned events include theater and art exhibitions, a youth workshop, panel discussions and guest speakers.

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“We’re going to have a touring exhibit at the Miami University Art Museum called Telling People’s Story about African American children’s books,” said Johnson. “We’re going to have Jerry Mitchell who is a really famous reporter who comes to talk about investigative reporting, civil rights and social justice.”

Parker thinks the National Civil Rights Conference is important to highlight the importance of voting.

“Today, more than ever, we need to educate people, educate people, and keep making people aware of the importance of voting,” said Parker.

James wrote that the conference is important because the Declaration of Independence promises everyone the right to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.

“A quick read of the story will show how difficult it was to instantiate that promise,” wrote James. “This conference reminds us of that past and motivates us to do better in the future.”


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