Sunday, November 17, 2019

Lafayette County, Mississippi



schedule OF EVENTS

The landing

@ Entrance to Whirlpool/South Campus Rail Trails on Chucky Mullins/Coliseum Drive, South of Highway 6, Oxford

10 AM – Noon

Belonging to the Earth

An experiential workshop to engage with the power of the land

Lydia Koltai
Participants will experience connection to the land they walk upon with an introduction to the tools of song, storytelling, prayer, plant medicine, foraging, bird language, fox walking and sensory immersion in nature.  We will begin with a Thanksgiving Address to offer gratitude to all the beings who make up the natural world.  Koltai will share a couple of songs and stories about nature connection experiences from her own life.  There will be an opportunity to sample herbal medicines and wild foods from the land.  Koltai will talk a bit about bird language and lead sensory exercise to become immersed in the world around us.  Finally, participants will move out onto the land and experience a sit spot, then come back together to share about our experiences.

The Summit

@ The Gordon Community and Cultural Center | 35 County Road 115,  Abbeville

12:30 PM

Registration Begins


1 – 2:15 PM

Fair Exchange

Applying whole systems design towards building equitable systems of exchange, and a common wealth of resources and relationships in North Mississippi

Ben Koltai, Dr. Clifford Ochs, Dr. Robbie Ethridge, and Dr. James Thomas

Permaculture is a whole systems design science described as “consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber and energy for provision of local needs.”  Permaculture design provides strategies for growing food and building resources by utilizing the many streams of energy flowing through our ecosystems, rather than excessive human labor or harmful machinery. Work smarter, not harder.


Bringing together University professors from Anthropology, Biology, and Sociology, permaculturalist Benjamin Koltai will moderate this community conversation applying Permaculture principles and ethics (care for Earth, care for people, return of the surplus) toward an exploration of strategies for implementing equitable socio-economic systems in our bio-region.  Sustainable development cannot be implemented without supportive “invisible” systems, including culture, law, land access, trade, finance, education, and media.  Our goal is to develop “invisible” systems for North Mississippi that empower and encourage every individual to build regenerative “visible” systems, supporting our common wealth, health, and well-being.

Reflecting on the Past for a Better Future

A report on Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette County

Randon Hill, Effie Burt, Alonzo Hilliard, and Darren E. Grem

Lynching Memorialization in Lafayette County, a community group based in Oxford, has been working in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative for the past two years to educate the community on some of the ugliest aspects of our past, recognize local victims of racial terror, and hold space for healing to occur.  Hear four members of the group's Steering Committee share why they got involved in this work, some of the outcomes and impacts they have observed thus far, their vision for the future of Lafayette County and intended next steps in this vital work.  The discussion will touch on the history of lynching both regionally and locally, the intersection between racial terrorism and black land ownership, and how this work has impacted community members with direct and indirect ties to this history.


2:30 – 3:30 PM

The History of the Enslaved & Civil Rights

through Movement, Dance, & Song

Jennifer Mizenko, Rhondalyn Peairs, John Reyer Afamasaga, Tysianna Jones, Angelica Wells,

Emily Olsen, and Kaylan Sanders

September 9-15, 2019, members of the Lafayette, Oxford, University (LOU) community took part in a special workshop that exposed them to the history of the enslaved and Civil Rights at the University of Mississippi, through theatrical movement and dance.  Find out how embodying this history opened the way for the participants to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the history.  The stories are no longer abstract, but real and viscerally experienced.  The session will include the premiere of the documentary Moving Spirits, which follows the events of the September workshop.

The project was financially supported by Mississippi: The Dance Company, Mississippi Humanities Council, Office of the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Mississippi, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council


North Mississippi Rural Legal Services

Litigation and history in land and power

April Grayson (moderator), Catherine V. “Ginny” Kilgore, and Ben Thomas Cole, II

Since its beginning as a clinic at the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1966, NMRLS has been one of the most important sites of legal advocacy for Mississippians otherwise unable to access legal aid. As many Mississippi cities and counties avoided or refused to uphold civil rights legislation, NMRLS has filled an important void, using tough litigation, counsel, and support to fight for Mississippians to have social, economic, and legal equality. This panel will screen a short compilation of excerpts from an ongoing NMRLS oral history project, as well as discuss the ways the organization has impacted issues of land and power—in redistricting, segregation, election, municipal, and housing cases—throughout its 53-year history.


3:45-4:30 PM

Land Through the Lens

Presented in partnership with the Oxford Film Festival

Filmmakers' panel moderated by Melanie Lynn Addington,

executive director of Oxford Film Fest & president of Mississippi Film Alliance

Look Away, Dixieland Rebekah Flake

On February 23, 2019, a demonstration was held in Oxford by two neo-Confederate groups from out-of-state. They met at the war memorial on the town square for a demonstration and then marched in procession to a similar statue on the campus of The University of Mississippi. Their flags and rebel yells were met by the posters and chants of local residents and students standing in opposition. All were surrounded by media and law enforcement. Larger crowds were kept at bay by an active tornado warning, washed-out roads and a boil-water directive caused by relentless downpours in the preceding days. Rebekah Flake, the director of this experimental short film, grew up in this town is and is currently a faculty member in the University's art department. This campus is considered a last hold-out for Confederate values, and the athletes still play under the name Rebels. Many students and faculty of color vacated the University the day of the demonstration in fear for their safety. The tension was as thick as the humidity. Look away, if you can.

TREES Zaire Love

TREES is a short film and an ode to wise southern black women. It utilizes trees to symbolize black women in the South. They are everywhere you go but are rarely gazed upon, exposing their majestic stature and wealth of wisdom.

Connecting to the Land Through Tai ChiApril Grayson and Chris Aloia

The video is a collaborative work between T’ai Chi practitioner Chris Aloia and filmmaker April Grayson, filmed in the landscape of Lafayette County at Sardis Lake. It explores Chris’s T’ai Chi practice as a deep connection to land and space, drawing on the Chinese philosophy of the eight directions (Bagua) in Taoist cosmology.

Land and Legacy

A look at Black land ownership in Lafayette County

Rhondalyn K. Peairs

Recent books and article have refocused the attention of the general public on the state of black farming and food justice. In this cannon of research scant consideration has been given to the African-American landowners who maintained their landholdings against all odds and leveraged them to aid in community development and progress. This presentation will delve into the historical and cultural importance of landowning as well as highlighting significant Black landowners in Lafayette County past and present.


4:45 PM


Marking the moment in song

Effie Burt

Dinner is served.


5:15 PM

Dinner presentation by Chicory Market


5:30 PM

Let's Talk

A conversation of participants sharing their experiences with the CAPE residency

April Grayson, Effie Burt, Robert Saarnio, Jason Bouldin, Rhondalyn Peairs, Monique Davis, managing director of CAPE (moderator)

CAPE is a W.K. Kellogg-funded initiative of the Mississippi Museum of Art that uses engagements with artists, programming, and exhibitions to discuss issues of race and equity and increase understanding. This panel offers an opportunity to reflect with participants on the potential impact of a project like this in their community.


6:30 PM

Reaching the Summit

What the artist dug up along the way

daniel johnson

Residency artist daniel johnson offers a survey of the land traveled over the course of the project focusing on his considerations and process as an artist of Social Practice.


The Reception

@ Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center, 710 Jackson Avenue East, Oxford


7:30 – 9 PM

Black Presence in Lafayette County

Presented in partnership with the Oxford Artists Guild

An exhibition of work by local Lafayette County artists reflecting on their own memories and the history of black presence in Lafayette County; portraits, landscapes, and gathering places. Refreshments provided by Chicory Market with a focus on locally-produced foods.













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