On behalf of the organizing committee for the 2015 Sweat Equity Investment in the Cotton Kingdom Symposium, I thank the MVSU family for the phenomenal support and generous contributions making this year’s event truly remarkable!
The Symposium opened with a riveting recital of the “Cotton Pickers Prayer” by Brandice Andea Brown, student of performing arts from Atlanta-based Spelman College. Sponsored by Dr Curressia Brown, Acting Chair of the MVSU Business Department, the Prayer set the tone and ensured a blessed day of cultural reflections and historical scholarship. To be explicit, a huge hug and warm embrace are in order for those who not only understood the concept “One Valley” but contributed in numerous ways making the 4th Annual Symposium the best thus far:
MVSU Social Sciences Department is greatly appreciated for their participation. Particularly, Dr R. Mushi, Chair of Social Sciences, for his leadership and impromptu assistance in the delivery of Malian Cotton Consultant Dr Diarra’s paper on African textiles in antiquity, which was partially translated from French to English by Dr Kathryn Green. A special award is in order for Ms. Shakia Bell, Office Manager, for the hard work and consistent effort to make sure everything goes well in the SS Department. To Ms. Kai Osborne for the mandatory attendance of ALL of her political science classes. And of course to Dr Elizabeth Evans for her personal stories and authentic accounts of going “From the Field to the Classroom,” which was delivered in a session moderated by vice president of Academic Affairs Dr Constance Bland, substantiating the significance of countless monumental lessons learned on cotton fields and plantations throughout the Mississippi Delta AKA “The Cotton Kingdom.”
The MVSU English Department, too, showed up and showed out with presentations organized by Dr Lin Knutson and moderated by English students Ms. Sequaria Lewis, and Mr. Javon Edmond. Their challenge was notable given the substantive contributions of Mr. Sterling Plumpp, Ms. Bettye Farmer and Dr Roy Hudson, who in the session entitled, “Cotton, Place and Delta Heritage” remarked on the cultural contributions that they never forgot and the people who they will never forget.
The special performance by Dr John Weiss and the Sweat Equity Singers of Hall Johnson’s “Ain’t got Time to Die” simply amazed the nearly four-hundred-member audience by going operatically to places unexpected. Other members under Dr Weiss’ tutelage include the dynamic duo, Lyric and Morgan Johnson, who stunned the audience with an incomparable gospel performance … in fact they along with Ms. Barbara Baymon’s solo performance of “When Black Folks Shout” were so spectacular that they can be considered the best ever!
Perhaps most notable were the cultural research projects contributed by MVSU students of the World and Modern History classes. Tybalus Toolie, who did an Oscar-worthy performance as “The Waterboy;” the volunteers that hosted the high school seniors visiting our campus; and, those who performed as docents in Gallery 3, where African and African American traditional quilts and textiles, were on display curated and arranged by Khafre, Inc Special Projects Director Linda Rule. A special thanks goes to Gladys Fant in the MVSU Sponsored Programs Division, who solicited her church members and made a great contribution of five (5) American traditional quilts. Beyond all else, The 1st Annual Historical Narrative Competition participants proved exceptional in their interpretation of the “Cotton Quilts and Freedom Narratives” themes onto poster board presentations of art. The participating MVSU students were: Jylen Grayson (1st Place Award), LaJaris Pates, Na’Kaila Sandidge, and Derry Skinner. The 1st place winner was determined by MVSU’s SGA President Brandon, along with official judges composed of MVSU faculty, staff: and community members Professor Ronald Minks, Dr Ronald Love, Dr. J. Janice Coleman, Shakia Bell, Dr. Richard Mushi, Linda Rule and Cassandra Krah. These posters will remain on permanent display in History Instructor C. Sade Turnipseed’s office in the Social Sciences Building.
Additional highlights came from MVSU alumni Senator David L Jordan, who delivered the most impactful keynote address imaginable discussing “From the Mississippi Cotton Fields to the State Senate;” Professor of English at Alcorn State University Dr. J. Janice Coleman delivered the key message of Freedom via quilts narratives in tribute to B.B. King and the musical legends from the cotton fields. Monroe Golden, who for the past four years represented “the authentic voice” of the Cotton Pickers; and, Mr. Robert Terrell for his superb stage management skills. To cap off the day, Harvey Jackson Jr’s Gentry High School Choir literally blew the roof off the building with their stellar performances!
The teamwork of our MVSU Public Relations Department, as expected, did not disappoint. Under the leadership of Maxine Greenleaf and the artistic genius of John McCall, participants were able to take with them the ideal illustration of this year’s theme on the souvenir program and poster designs. On previous occasions Ms. Wanda Young extended the services of the MVSU media to assist in the promotion of this year’s Symposium.
Participating students and members of the audience received complimentary lunches sponsored by MVSU’s Academic Affairs, the President’s Office and the Social Sciences Department. And, as usual Mr. Tommy Verdell and the Facilities team led by Mr. Vanderbilt Dixon were everything for everybody and set up a fantastic stage designed by Special Events Manager, Cassandra Krah. The security of all was experienced due in large measure to the MVSU Police team under the leadership of Chief Leron Weeks and officer Simpson. Other sponsors for this year’s events included community partners: Khafre, Inc., the Sunflower Consolidated School District featuring Harvey Jackson Jr. and the Gentry Choir, Lost Pizza, Co., Doc’s Trophy’s, Staplcotn, Embassy of Mali, Dr Curressia Brown and Family, Helen Sims, J. Janice Coleman, da House of Khafre, Linda Rule, Gladys Fant, Ms. Connie Hearn, Ms. Mary Mays and of course, Grandmama’nem. As associate vice president of Academic Affairs Dr Kathie Golden, stated in her closing remarks, so many “thank you’s” are in order and have already been said; but do know we here at The Valley appreciate the work and effort to realize the vision of One Goal. One Team. One Valley by actually bringing it into manifestation … and so it was Thursday, November 12, 2015!
C.Sade Turnipseed, History Instructor MVSU History Program – Social Sciences Department;
Executive Director, Khafre, Inc founding organization of the Cotton Pickers of America Monument Project
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR NEXT YEAR’S SYMPOSIUM and COTTON PICKERS BALL NOVEMBER 10 AND 11TH 2016. THE THEME WILL EVOLVE AROUND COTTON AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
For more information:
or visit www.khafre.org