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.

Prominent Journalists Discuss Assault on News Media

Four veteran Mississippi journalists will discuss growing hostility to the press in a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss.

The program comes as 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 will include 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 will serve as moderator for what is expected to be a frank and free-wheeling discussion of what it's like on the front lines of daily journalism at a time when attacks on the press are flying fast and furiously.

“These are some of the state’s most talented journalists. We expect them to shed light on the extraordinary lengths elected officials go to in order to keep them from news the public needs and hungers for,” Rose said.

Mitchell’s aggressive investigations of old civil rights era “cold cases” prompted authorities to reexamine numerous unsolved killings from the 1960s. His stories helped prosecutors finally convict notorious Greenwood Klansman Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers. Mitchell’s reporting also helped secure convictions of KKK Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers for ordering the fatal firebombing of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer in 1966, Bobby Cherry for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four little girls, and Edgar Ray Killen for helping pull off the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County.

Ramsey got his start at his high school newspaper, when he was summoned to the principal’s office to discuss his rendering of the school librarian holding a machine gun and challenging students for their pass to enter the library. Later, his bold and vivid images on the Clarion-Ledger editorial page won him constant public attention during the controversial reign of former Jackson Mayor Frank Melton. He hosts a weekly radio show on the Mississippi Public Broadcasting network and has written several books, including Drawing the Line, published last summer.

Agnew, who championed investigative reporting as executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger, took over at Mississippi Public Broadcasting in 2011. Under his tenure, MPB has ramped up its local radio programming and improved relations with the legislature. He serves on the national Public Broadcasting Service board of directors and has been named one of the most influential African Americans in Mississippi.

Royals’ reporting recently helped force legislative leaders to back down from their vow to keep secret all of their contracts, including one with EdBuild, the firm hired to rework the funding formula for public schools. A former education and legislative reporter for the Clarion-Ledger, she has won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s loosely written campaign finance laws and troubled prison system.

This event is free and open to the public and will allow time for questions from the audience.


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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