Friday, February 10, 6 p.m.
How Deep is Mississippi's Commitment to Education?
State Rep. Jay Hughes of Oxford, whose legislative passion is education, discusses this year’s issues with Bracey Harris, education reporter for the Clarion-Ledger.

Friday, February 17, 1:30 p.m.
Assault on the Media
Top Mississippi journalists Jerry Mitchell and Marshall Ramsey of the Clarion-Ledger, Ronnie Agnew of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, and Kate Royals of Mississippi Today talk about a growing hostility toward the press with moderator Bill Rose, an Overby Fellow.

Wednesday, March 8, 6 p.m.
Revisiting Jefferson Davis and J. Z. George: U.S. Capitol Relics?
W. Brother Rogers, former associate director of the Stennis Center for Public Service; Ole Miss political science professor Marvin King; and Overby Center chairman Charles Overby consider whether two 19th Century Confederate figures are still appropriate subjects to represent the state in a U.S. Capitol hall.

Monday, March 27, 6 p.m.
Mississippians Say the Strangest Things
David Crews of Oxford has been collecting quotes from Mississippi sources for many years. He has put them in, “The Mississippi Book of Quotations,” and will discuss some of these memorable lines with Charles Overby.

April, TBA
The Free State of Jones
Retired Federal Judge Charles Pickering of Jones County, Charles Overby and others will talk about a fascinating piece of Mississippi history that has been revived recently by books and a film about a breakaway movement by factions in Jones County that refused to support the Confederacy.

Monday, April 24, 6 p.m.
Racial Politics in Memphis
Otis Sanford, an Ole Miss journalism alum who was an editor at the Commercial Appeal and now teaches at the University of Memphis, will talk about his new book, “From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics” with Charles Overby and Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie.

Mississippians Say The Strangest Things

David Crews, an Oxford resident and a bona fide renaissance man, will be a guest at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 27, to talk about his collection of intriguing – and sometimes odd – quotes from Mississippians.

In a conversation with the center’s chairman, Charles Overby, Crews will elaborate on his recently published “The Mississippi Book of Quotations” in the fourth of a spring series of programs dedicated to Mississippi during the celebration of its 200th anniversary of statehood.

“David collects quotes the way some guys collect baseball cards,” said Overby. “Mississippians are great at talking and David has put together comments that are inspiring, outrageous and funny. The stories he tells behind the quotes are fascinating.”

The event, which will be held in the Overby Center Auditorium on the Ole Miss campus, is free and open to the public. A reception will be held afterward, and arrangements for parking have been made for the lot adjacent to the auditorium.

Over the years, Crews saved quotes from politicians and writers as well as musicians and athletes, dozens of which have become favorites. Such as: “It's hard to remember the truth when there's so much truth to remember.”

“It was uttered by a witness during a federal trial in my court,” said Crews. “That is a line that is simultaneously true, amusing, and bordering on perjury. What's not to like about a line that incorporates truth, humor, and perjury.”

He is now the chief clerk for the U.S. District Courts in North Mississippi, but enjoys a statewide reputation as a raconteur and an authority on many things “Mississippi.”

After graduating from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., he taught American history for a year and worked for two years as a newspaper reporter. In the early 1980s, he was a young yet valuable aide to Gov. William Winter while informally doubling as an adventurous traveler and a student of literature. He developed friendships with most of the prominent writers in Mississippi’s modern history.

While living in Jackson, he made stealthy deliveries of the daily New York Times to the door step of Eudora Welty to save her the trouble of finding the newspaper at her neighborhood grocery. (Determined to find who was responsible for the magic, she caught him in the act one morning.) As a child, he even encountered William Faulkner – after the Nobel Prize-winning novelist spotted him stealing apples from an orchard. He was a buddy of the late Willie Morris. He was also part of a cast of characters who banged about China and beyond 30 years ago. A fellow Mississippian, Stuart Stevens, a travel writer and political analyst, wrote about their trip in his book, “Night Train to Turkistan.”

Crews has hiked all 450 miles of the Natchez Trace and climbed the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. More recently, he produced a documentary that won a regional Emmy Award.

His father, the late John Crews, was a popular professor of English literature at Ole Miss; his wife, Claire, is a teacher in the Oxford School District. They are the parents of twins. To round out his unconventional profile, he carried a gun for nearly eight years while tracking down fugitives as the chief U.S. marshal in north Mississippi during the Clinton administration.

Of his varied background, Crews says, “My brother contends all of this is evidence that I can’t hold a job.”

Revisiting Jefferson Davis and J. Z. George: U.S. Capitol Relics?

Should Mississippi still be represented in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall by two 19th century figures who were prominent in the secessionist movement? Or is it time for the state to honor more modern 20th century leaders?

Overby Center chairman Charles Overby, William “Brother” Rogers, president of the Mississippi Historical Society, and Marvin King, associate professor of political science and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi came together to discuss the matter.

Each state is allowed to select two people to be honored with statues in the U.S. Capitol. Eighty-six years ago the Mississippi legislature chose Davis, the president of the Confederacy, and George, who signed the ordinance of secession. After the civil war, George became chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court before serving 16 years in the U.S. Senate.

“There is no question that Davis and George were political leaders from Mississippi in the 19th century,” Overby said. “The question is whether there are 20th century Mississippians equally or more deserving to represent Mississippi today. Mississippi has an impressive list of accomplished 20th century citizens worthy of consideration. They range from Senator John Stennis to authors William Faulkner and Eudora Welty to civil rights leader Medgar Evers, along with many others.”

The Assault on the Media (02/17/17)

Four prominent veteran Mississippi journalists discussed the growing hostility to the press in a panel discussion here at the Overby Center.

The program is set in a time when news media credibility seems to be at a low ebb nationally. Meanwhile, Mississippi journalists trying to report on state government are increasingly meeting strong resistance from more secretive elected officials.

The panel included veteran Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell, whose work helped send several former Ku Klux Klansmen to prison, Marshall Ramsey, the Clarion-Ledger cartoonist, Ronnie Agnew, executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, and Kate Royals, the award-winning education reporter for Mississippi Today. Overby Fellow Bill Rose served as moderator.

"Journalism is about truth and we will never ever give up that right," said Agnew.

"You have to be persistent and willing to do what it takes," said Mitchell.

How Deep is Mississippi's Commitment to Education? (02/10/17)

The Overby Center's spring semester programmes began on one of the most controversial issues in the state. It featured Rep. Jay Hughes, an Oxford Democrat who has been outspoken in his criticism of the administration and the legislature’s approach to education, and Bracey Harris, an education reporter for the Clarion-Ledger.

Using a slogan “It ALL starts with education” for his frequent emails to constituents and other interested parties, the first-term legislator has closely tracked bills involving educational issues and sharply faulted a new formula devised by a New Jersey firm hired by the Republican leadership to determine levels of state aid for various school districts in the state.


The Overby Center for Southern Journalism & Politics’ mission is to create better understanding of the media, politicians and the role of the First Amendment in our democracy. The Center is funded through a $5 million grant from the Freedom Forum, a foundation dedicated to educating people about the importance of a free press and the First Amendment.

The Overby Center features programs, multimedia displays and writings which examine the complex relationships between the media and politicians - past, present and future. The Overby Center pays special attention to Southern perspectives.

Adjacent to the newly renovated journalism department facility at Farley Hall, the Overby Center is a new building that features 16,000 square feet of conference space. It includes a 225-seat auditorium, a multipurpose conference room that will accommodate 100 people for seminars and dinners, and a boardroom seating up to 24 people.

The center has state-of-the-art technology and video throughout the building, including a news wall with nine large-screen TV monitors for showing live news programs and current front pages from 12 Southern states.

The center is named for Charles L. Overby, editor of the Daily Mississippian at Ole Miss from 1967-1968. Overby was the CEO of the Freedom Forum and Newseum until his retirement in 2012.

Overby Center Auditorium

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