Journalism professor Robin Street began Diversity Rocks Mon. at 9 a.m. with a presentation on the origin of the program.
Diversity Rocks is a week of events put on by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media to support race, gender, sexuality, and disability differences at the university. The opening ceremonies, led by Street, included speeches by Will Norton, dean of journalism and new media, and Donald Cole, assistant chancellor of multi-cultural affairs.
“It’s a great way to show people how much we’ve grown,” Norton said.
Street explained that she had the idea for the program after hearing about three students who had committed suicide after being bullied because they were gay.
This idea expanded into a week about various kinds of tolerance. She dedicated the program to her childhood caretaker who had introduced to her to the history of the civil rights movement, Virgina “Tot” Taylor.
“We will replace animosity with a sense of tolerance,” Cole said.
Street also presented iPads to the winners of the Diversity Rocks essay and photography contests. Special Education major Lydia Smith took the prize for the essay contest. Journalism major and Trent Lott student Drew Carter won the photography contest.
“I used a fisheye lens. When I learned the prompt for the [photography] contest the image popped into my head,” Carter said. “James Meredith is the sole reason diversity exists at Ole Miss. Part of acknowledging our past and James Meredith’s instrumental role here at the university.” (Picture)
Shemetria Robin was awarded the Virginia Taylor Scholarship in honor of Tot. ????
Promotional videos for Diversity Rocks were also incorporated into the opening ceremonies. The first starred Ole Miss alumni Shepard Smith.
Students Natalia Burgos, Zach Graham, and Kentrell Lockett praised the program in the following videos. The final video starred Street as Lady Gaga lip-syncing “Born This Way” with her public relations committee as dancers.
Norton spoke about the history of civil rights at Ole Miss. The first shot of the civil war, he said, was shot 150 years ago, and the policy of segregation was not broken until the decision of Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.
The first Miss. statesman to acknowledge that segregation was not merely states’ rights, Norton said, was Haley Barber.
“It’s regrettable that it took so long to [eliminate segregation],” Norton quoted.
Cole began his speech by rising out of his chair and shouting that diversity rocked. He addressed the importance of the student body’s attendance of the week’s events.
“We ask you to take a fresher look at things,” Cole said.
Having been jailed himself for protesting segregation at Ole Miss during his enrollment as a student, Cole emphasized the need to merge the University of Mississippi as a tolerant, educational environment with Ole Miss, the students’ social environment.
Before closing his speech, Cole challenged the audience to talk to someone different than themselves in race, socioeconomic status or sexuality.
“If not now then when? If not you then who,” asked Cole at his closing. ???
Street ended the presentation thanking here Public Relations committee and the sponsors of Diversity Rocks.
The Diversity Rocks Public Relations committee includes: Emily Laird, Lindsay Jordan, Lauren Childers, Kimberly Dandridge, Kristie Warino, Molly Jarabica, Robin Street, Ponesha Barnes, Jujuan McNeil, Ignacio Murillo, Macey Baird, Locke Houston, Bud Taylor and Artesha Dunning.
Chick-Fil-A, Fed-Ex, and Cole financially sponsored the events. Chick-Fil-A is donating free chicken sandwiches that will be offered to those wearing purple in support of Diversity Rocks on April 28th. The Diversity Rocks tent will be located in the Grove.
Diversity Rocks continues in the Overby Center Auditorium in Farley Hall from April 25 to April 29 to celebrate tolerance at Ole Miss.
[For more informations on the events scheduled visit http://diversityrocksonline.org/.]