“Our Endangered Democracy” Panel, Oct. 23

Deardorff and McLemore

Deardorff and McLemore

SMSU presents a panel discussion on “Our Endangered Democracy: Protecting Our Right to Vote” on Monday, October 23 at 7:30-9:00 p.m. in the SMSU Conference Center Upper Level. The panel includes Dr. Michelle Deardorff and Dr. Leslie Burl-McLemore with facilitator Dr. Jeff Kolnick.

About the panelists:

Michelle D. Deardorff is the Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Government and Department Head of Political Science and Public Service at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Since earning her Ph.D. from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), Dr. Deardorff’s teaching and research have focused on the constitutional and statutory protections surrounding gender and race, as well as exploring the insights provided by political theory. She particularly enjoys teaching classes and engaging with the public in ways that allow people to apply their understandings of law, politics, and political theory to current events, believing an important role of a university is to foster thoughtful citizens prepared to participate in governing our communities and nation. Michelle attempts to ensure that all of her work in the classroom, on campus, in her research, and with the community advances this larger goal of advancing democracy, meaningful discourse, and equality.

Deardorff’s most recent book is entitled Pregnancy and the American Worker (co-authored with James Dahl), which examines the lower federal courts’ interpretation of two competing statutory interpretations of equality (Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) in relationship to pregnancy protections in employment. She is the author of several books.

Leslie-Burl McLemore is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Jackson State University. Currently, he is a member of the Walls, Mississippi Board of Aldermen where he made history as one of two African Americans elected to the Board.  Dr. McLemore also serves as an advisor to the Office of Alumni Development at Rust College, his alma mater.  Dr. McLemore is a native of Walls, Mississippi. Dr. McLemore earned his B.A. in Social Science and Economics from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi; his M.A. in Political Science from Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia; and his Ph. D. in Government from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has done post-doctoral work at The Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University.

Dr. McLemore is a veteran of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. As a Rust College student, Dr. McLemore was the founding President of the College Chapter of the NAACP. He organized and led several demonstrations and voter registration drives while at Rust. Dr. McLemore worked primarily in Benton, Marshall, Tate, and DeSoto Counties. Dr. McLemore became associated with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1962. He was the northern regional coordinator for the 1963 Freedom Vote campaign. The Freedom Vote campaign led to the eventual formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Dr. McLemore was a founding member and elected vice-chair of the MFDP in 1964. He also served as a member of the Executive Committee. In August of 1964, Dr. McLemore was elected as one of the 64 Freedom Party delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Dr. McLemore worked very closely with Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, Victoria Gray Adams, Annie Devine, Aaron Henry and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and other parts of the American South.

Dr. McLemore is often invited to speak to different groups and organizations in Mississippi and across the country. He is the author of several articles on Black Politics, the Civil Rights Movement and Environmental Politics.  McLemore co-authored with John Dittmer and Jeff Kolnick, “Freedom Summer: A Brief History With Documents,” Bedford/St. Martin’s, New York, 2017.  He also published “The Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy: Engaging a Curriculum and Pedagogy,” with Michelle D. Deardorff, Jeff Kolnick, and Thandekile R.M. Mvusi.

The panel will be facilitated by Dr. Jeff Kolnick, Professor of History at SMSU.

Deardorff, Kolnick, and McLemore are all founding faculty members of the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy in 1997. The institute is a coalition of academics who promote civic engagement and popular sovereignty through the study of the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Their twenty-year collaboration resulted in the provision of pedagogical resources, workshops, tours, and two museums all designed for K-12 educators, community college and university faculty, students, and community members to understand the promise of democracy.

Free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the SMSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Access Opportunity Success, Black Student Union, African Student Union, and The Office of the Assistant Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Campus Diversity Officer.

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