JSU to join Millsaps College in conversation about race, art and identity

Luther King


(JACKSON, Miss.) —  For the first time in the history of Jackson State University and Millsaps College, the institutions will come together to address race in a two-part program on both campuses Feb. 19-20 titled, “Necessary Tension: An honest conversation on Race, Art and Identity” with Kiese Laymon.

Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon

Laymon, a writer and an associate professor of English and co-director of Africana Studies at Vassar College, recently earned notoriety for his essay, “How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America,” which explores his personal experiences with race, racism and coming of age in Jackson. Before graduating from Oberlin College, Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University.

The two day event — conceived and planned by a committee of students, faculty, and staff from the two schools — seeks to open dialogue between the two campuses about the complexities of racial identity formation on college campuses, the need for creating spaces where students can explore and express identity, and the role of artistic endeavor in that process.

The public is invited to participate in two connected panel discussions; the first will be held at Millsaps College from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex. The second will be held at JSU from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Dollye M.E. Robinson Liberal Arts Building Room 266. WATCH THIS EVENT LIVE HERE

Charlie Braxton

Charlie Braxton

Brad "Kamikaze" Franklin

Brad “Kamikaze” Franklin

Laymon will be joined on the Millsaps panel by Louwanda Evans, Millsaps visiting assistant professor of sociology, and Millsaps alumni, Natalie Collier and the Rev. Ricky James. The JSU panelists will include Laymon, Evans, Collier along with JSU alums Charlie Braxton, a poet, playwright and journalist, and Brad “Kamikaze” Franklin, a hip-hop artist, community activist and entrepreneur.  The JSU event will open with performances by Franklin, Skipp Coon and Pyinfamous.

Skipp Coon

Skipp Coon

Laymon also will offer a master class in creative writing for JSU and Millsaps students from 1-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Millsaps College in the Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex Room 215. JSU will provide transportation for students between the two campuses for each event.

Laymon earned an M.F.A. from Indiana University and is the author of the forthcoming novel, Long Division (Agate Bolden) in June 2013 and a collection of essays, How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America (Agate Boldenin August 2013. Laymon is a contributing editor at Gawker.com. He has written essays and stories for numerous publications including Esquire, ESPN.com, Gawker, Longman’s Hip Hop Reader, Mythium and Politics and Culture.

For more information about the Millsaps College portion of the event, contact Kenneth Townsend at 601-974-1001 or Kenneth.townsend@millsaps.edu.

For information about the Jackson State University portion of the event, contact Jean Gordon Cook at 601-979-1571 or jean.g.cook@jsums.edu.


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