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Progress continues toward erecting civil rights monument on University of Mississippi campus

January 11, 2002

by Patsy R. Brumfeld
University News Services, University of Mississippi

UNIVERSITY, Miss. — An idea by students in 1995 for a civil rights monument on the University of Mississippi-Oxford campus took a step closer to reality Friday as a national panel of jurors considered artists for the project here.

“What we are doing today is the right thing,” Dr. Gerald W. Walton, provost emeritus, said to art experts who were meeting in the historic Lyceum Building. The group is on campus through Saturday to review applications from artists across America who want to design a monument to be located in the heart of the campus, where violence broke out in 1962 over attempts to admit a black man, James Meredith.

More than 125 applications to design the privately-funded memorial have been received. The art panel will pare that number to five, who then will present models of proposals for consideration this spring.

UM Chancellor Robert Khayat presided over a morning orientation in which former and current faculty members, as well as an Oxford religious leader, talked about their experiences with civil rights events on and off the Oxford campus.

“We see the future in a very bright way,” Khayat said. “We are committed to respect for the dignity of every individual, and this memorial will add to that commitment.”

Dr. Edward Linenthal, a professor of religion and American culture at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, will meet with the jurors at 5:30 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 12) at Square Books in downtown Oxford and talk about his work advising on the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. The public is invited.

In 1995, organized discussions about establishment of a memorial began on campus involving students, faculty, administrators, staff and Oxford community members.

Now a former student, John T. Edge remains on campus today affiliated with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. He welcomed the jurors and expressed delight at seeing this effort coming to fruition. “I am excited that we are so close to seeing this idea become reality, and I am looking forward to seeing what designs come from the outstanding artists who will be involved.”

Installation of the artwork is scheduled for April 2003.

Announcement of the art finalists is expected soon. The winning design is to be revealed in late September, when the University begins observance of the 40th anniversary of its integration.

Jurors considering artists’ applications are Rene Paul Barilleaux, chief curator of the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson; Annette DeMeo Carlozzi, curator of The University of Texas at Austin's Blanton Museum of Art; Randy Hayes, a Jackson native and nationally-known artist whose work includes public art in the Seattle Center; Barbara Andrews, curator of the National Civil Rights Musuem in Memphis; and Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, W. Va.

The public is invited to observe the jurying process in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory, which houses the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

For more information or to make a donation to the project, contact the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at 661-915-5993 or by e-mail to: memorial@olemiss.edu.


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