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Racial progress panel wraps up integration events

Alex Edwards

Professor and historian David Sansing hosted a discussion at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics Thursday morning to assess the progress made at The University of Mississippi since the enrollment of James Meredith. The panel was composed of Sansing; Donald Cole, assistant provost and assistant to the chancellor concerning minority affairs; Valeria Ross, assistant dean of students for multicultural affairs and volunteer services; and former provost Gerald Walton. Nearly 120 students, faculty, administrators and other community members were in attendance. Sansing prefaced the event by providing his perspective on the importance of the panel discussion. “The three people who are going to speak this morning have a unique experience with The University of Mississippi,” Sansing said. “One was here during the Meredith crisis, one came here because James Meredith broke the color barrier and the other acclimates students to university life.” Charles Overby, for whom the Overby Center is named, said it was an amazing opportunity for the university to hold such an event. “We’ve been privileged to be able to host a number of programs in connection with the 50th anniversary of James Meredith entering Ole Miss and the opening up of the previously closed Mississippi society,” Overby said. Chancellor Dan Jones appreciated the panel’s discussion. “We’ve had a compressed opportunity about the difficulties of our past and to think about the past and future,” Jones said. Walton compared his memories of 1962 to what is happening now. “While we still have a long way to go, I think we have made some magnificent strides,” he said. Cole then delivered an address about the experience he had when he enrolled in the university in 1968. “It’s the university of the 2000s that is one that I can be so proud of,” he said. Ross discussed the trials she feels black students have faced in the past, along with the success the students have gained. “The campus community has never been more attractive than it is today,” Ross said. Marketing communications major Chloe Dallas said that although she didn’t know much about the history of Ole Miss, the program taught her a lot about the people who have been involved in the integration celebration. “I think (Ole Miss) has come really far, especially with the homecoming queen and ASB president being African American,” she said. The panel was the conclusion of events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the university’s integration. “Freedom of speech is alive and well,” Jones said.