Tom Brokaw, Haley Barbour and Ray Mabus among Overby Center’s fall lineup

Published 10:39 am Monday, September 26, 2016

University of Mississippi

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi will host 10 programs featuring well-known media members and political heavyweights as momentum builds toward the presidential election.

The fall series includes Tom Brokaw, longtime NBC correspondent; former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who also served chair of the Republican National Committee; Andy Lack, president of NBC News; and Stuart Stevens, a Mississippian who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Two programs include UM students who worked on projects in Africa and also among Mississippi’s Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes.

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The fall offerings include a diverse set of speakers, said Charles Overby, chairman of the center.

“The fall lineup of programs ranges from serious to quirky, with a great array of interesting, accomplished personalities,” Overby said.

The rich variety of speakers complement the university’s journalism programs, but also will draw attendance from the Oxford community, said Curtis Wilkie, UM Cook Chair and associate professor of journalism.

“We also want to emphasize an important word at Ole Miss: diversity, so that the programs and panelists are not dominated by a bunch of old white guys pontificating but deal straight-up with race, still a critical issue in our state,” Wilkie said.

There’s also an emphasis on attracting opposing political ideologies to enrich the discussion, he said.

“We try to be scrupulously nonpartisan, inviting guests from all kinds of political backgrounds,” Wilkie said. “We hope we’re provocative and provide the kind of commentary that would have been forbidden on this campus 50 years ago – when I was a student – and political forces in Mississippi imposed a ‘speakers ban’ at Ole Miss, which denied a forum to forbidden voices.”

Overby and Wilkie, who were journalists during the civil rights movement, will also appear on a panel Nov. 1 with political science professor Marvin King to discuss James Meredith’s “March Against Fear” in 1966. The discussion also features Aram Goudsouzian, author of “Down to the Crossroads” a book about the march.

All Overby Center events are free and open to the public, and arrangements are being made to provide parking for all evening programs this fall. Parking for guests will be available in the lot next to the Overby Center. With the exception of a Sept. 30 forum at Nutt Auditorium, events will be held at the Overby Auditorium.

The Details

Here’s a rundown of the discussions:

• Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. – “A Critical Eye on the Campaign” with Stuart Stevens, a leading Republican consultant who has been outspoken in his condemnation of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

• Sept. 30, 6 p.m., Nutt Auditorium – “Election Countdown” with Lack and Brokaw of NBC News, along with special guest Barbour. The political discussion will be moderated by Maggie Wade from Jackson’s NBC affiliate. The program is co-sponsored by Mississippi Today, the state’s online news operation.

• Oct. 11, 6 p.m. – “Mississippi Freelance” an irreverent monthly that poked fun at Mississippi politicians and exposed many irregularities 50 years ago, will be fondly remembered by its founders, Lew Powell and Ed Williams, Ole Miss graduates who went on to careers at the Charlotte Observer.

• Oct. 14, 9 a.m. – “The Embassy,” a new book about earlier turmoil in Liberia, will be discussed by its author, Dante Paradiso, an American Foreign Service officer posted to its capital, Monrovia, at the time.

• Oct. 19, 8 p.m. – “The Last Debate” will be shown on the Overby Center screen, to be followed by a public discussion.

• Oct. 27, 2:30 p.m. – “Mississippi Indians” will be discussed by Overby fellow Bill Rose and students on his team in the latest in-depth reporting assignment, an annual course that has produced a series of prize-winning magazines.

• Nov. 1, 6 p.m. – “The March Against Fear,” James Meredith’s idea that led to an assassination attempt on him and a fractious finish by competing civil rights leaders in 1966, will be recalled on its 50th anniversary by Goudsouzian, King, Overby and Wilkie.

• Nov. 2, 6 p.m. – “Ole Miss in Africa” will feature UM journalism students who traveled earlier this year to Zimbabwe and Namibia on a photo expedition and study of wildlife management.

• Nov. 15, 6 p.m. – “The Outcome” of the 2016 presidential campaign – and its impact on the future of the two major parties – will be the subject for a final discussion.