In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton inaugurated an unprecedented national conversation on race. "One America: The President's Initiative on Race" marked the first time a sitting president had called for such a dialogue without the catalyst of a major crisis. It suggested, on a federal level, the importance of dealing positively with race relations on a daily basis.
Accepting the challenge to prod grassroots efforts, the University of Mississippi hosted the only deep-South public forum for One America. Preceded by dialogue groups representing ten constituency topics ranging from the arts to education to religion, the event highlighted elected delegates from each group. Sharing the insight and hopes of the more than 160 participants, the representatives crafted a frank yet civil discussion on one of our nation's most difficult subjects.
The President's staff hailed the UM experience as the single most successful of the entire Initiative year. That recognition encouraged the University to formalize its dialogue process with the creation of an institute to promote racial reconciliation and civic renewal.
Founded in 1999, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation builds more inclusive communities by promoting diversity and citizenship, and by supporting projects that help communities solve local challenges.
Born in 1923 in Grenada, Mississippi, William F. Winter served in the armed forces in World War II and the Korean War. He was awarded a BA from the University of Mississippi in 1943 and an LL.B. in 1949. He has since been awarded over five honorary degrees. His credentials within the academic community are long standing: Jamie Whitten Professor of Law and Government at the University of Mississippi School of Law (Fall 1989); Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College (Spring 1989); Fellow, Institute of Politics, Harvard University (1985) and President, Ole Miss Alumni Association (1978). He continues to practice law with the Jackson, MS, firm of Watkins Ludlum Winter & Stennis, P.A. which celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 2005.
William Winter is most well known, however, for his role in leading the charge for publicly-funded primary education while he was the fifty-eighth governor of Mississippi from 1980-1984. His governance echoed his belief that all people, regardless of race or class, should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as the most privileged enjoys. In a substantial way, Governor Winter's accomplishments were honored in 1997 when President Bill Clinton initiated "One America," an unprecedented national conversation on race. Winter served on the board of One America, helping to bring the only deep-South public forum to the University of Mississippi. President Bill Clinton has called Winter a "great champion of civil rights." Positive changes stem from great leadership, and William Winter is one of many guiding lights for Mississippi and America.
In 1998, Susan Glisson coordinated the only deep-South public forum for President Clinton's One America: an Initiative on Race, which led to the creation of the Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Glisson was appointed director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in November 2002. She has supported community projects throughout the state for the Institute since its inception.
Glisson is a native of Evans, Georgia. She earned bachelor’s degrees in religion and in history from Mercer University, a master’s degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary. Glisson specializes in the history of race and religion in the United States, especially in the black struggle for freedom.
Glisson is the co-author (with Sam Chaltain and Charles Haynes) of First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America (2006), and she edited The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement (2006). She is a contributor to Telling Stories That Change the World (2008) and to the Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working Class History (2006). Glisson is a Salzburg Fellow and has been quoted widely in the media, including in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Miami Herald, The Economist, Le Monde, and on CNN, NBC, and CourtTV. Click here to email Dr. Susan M. Glisson
Leroy Clemons is a co-founder and president of the Philadelphia Coalition, a multi-racial task force formed in 2004 charged with planning the public commemoration and memorial to the three civil rights workers, who were slain in Neshoba County in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The Coalition helped unite a community to stand up and call for justice in the 1964 triple murders of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. The Coalition's push for justice in the forty year old murder case led to the first state conviction in the case. He has joined the Institute as our director of community relations and will be directing intergenerational community work throughout Mississippi. Click here to email Leroy Clemons
Vondaris "Von" Gordon is a native of Moorhead, MS, in Sunflower County. He has joined the Institute to develop and coordinate youth programs as our youth project manager. He attended the University of Mississippi, where he was a student leader and helped organize the first Statewide Student Summit on Race. He served as a founding board member of the Winter Institute and the only student representative. He has worked in the private sector in franchise and corporate multi-unit restaurant operations and in business development for one of Pepsi's top franchise bottlers. Von is the married father of two and he is passionate about equipping youth to build stronger communities through education, empowerment, and racial healing. Click here to email Vondaris "Von" Gordon
Talya Kahan is a Research Consultant at the Winter Institute. She was born in Israel but has spent much of her life in Ethiopia, Swaziland, Burma and Italy. She holds a Bachelorís degree in Sociology and Politics from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Her senior thesis focused on public spaces and public memory in post civil-rights era Mississippi. Talya also completed minors in Social Justice/Social Policy and Health Science, Society and Policy. While at Brandeis, she worked as a housing advocate at a local housing clinic and was involved in a number of campus wide initiatives surrounding poverty alleviation as well as community and sustainable development. This past summer, she worked as a counselor at the Summer Youth Institute. Talya is interested in a wide range of issues ranging from civil rights history and activist identity formation to ideas surrounding collective memory and the use and control of public space. Click here to email Tayla Kahan
Elliot Long, from Wichita, KS, is the Project Coordinator for the Winter Institute. He has a background in advocating for LGBTQ rights, working with refugee and immigrant youth, and coordinating tutoring and academic learning centers. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Ohio University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. Click here to email Elliot Long. Click here to email Elliot Long
Jacqueline B. Martin a civil rights veteran from McComb, Mississippi, and serves as the community liaison for the Civil Rights/Labor History curriculum development project at McComb School District; and has served as civil rights tour guide for high school and college students, as well as teachers and other interested citizens. She has organized many of McCombís civil rights tours and commemorations, especially those honoring local civil rights veterans. Martin has joined the Institute as a Welcome Table field secretary, and will participate in intergenerational community work in Mississippi. Click here to email Jackie Martin
Christopher Schultz has been helping the Winter Institute develop programs and raise funds almost since our founding. We're proud to be among the very first clients of his idea-development consultancy, Start Here Project Development, which has worked with clients worldwide to build and fund projects for ten years. Chris and Start Here have recently agreed to take over our development and marketing functions entirely. Click here to email Chris Schultz. Click here to email Chris Schultz
Jennifer A. Stollman Ph. D. is the Academic Director the the Winter Institute. She completed her Master's degree at Wayne State University in U.S., Labor, and Women's History. She finished her doctoral work at Michigan State University in Early American history, Comparative Women's history, Native American history, and African-American history. She also completed a cognate at the University of Michigan in feminist cultural theory. Her teaching and research interests include American intellectual history, the study of collective and individual identity development, Atlantic history, American religious history, 19th-century American history, the history of American wars, American legal and business history, American medical history, history of American sexuality, history of American disasters, labor and collective movements, history of the American South, great thinkers, feminist and gender theory. Dr. Stollman is also active in anti-racism and gender activism. Click here to email Jennifer A. Stollman Ph. D.
Charles H. Tucker, a Cary, Mississippi, native, is the Institute's Associate Director. He holds a degree in mass communication and journalism from Jackson State University. Tucker was a newspaper reporter and photographer and a writer for the Associated Press. He has worked in development for the Piney Woods School, where he also tutored and taught creative writing seminars. He served in the Office of Public Information at Jackson State University. Most recently, Tucker was the public information officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on its Mid-South Delta Initiative. He is a facilitator and community builder for the Welcome Table model and helps develop and coordinate the Institute's national and international partnerships. Tucker is a National Book Foundation Summer Fellow and was a Solstice Summer creative writing program participant at Pine Manor College. Click here to email Charles Tucker
Kaitlyn Barnes is a student intern from Jackson, MS. She is a junior Classics major and Gender Studies minor in the Honors College at the university. She also serves as the president of Pride! Network, the LGBTQ student organization on campus. Click here to email Kaitlyn Barnes
Shanequa Hathorne is a student intern from Philadelphia, MS. She is a sophomore Biochemistry/Pre-med major. She was a member of the Neshoba Youth Coalition in Philadelphia and is a member of IMAGE on campus. Click here to email Shanequa Click here to email Shanequa Hathorne
Jillian McClure is a graduate student assistant through the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. She received her bachelorís degree in history from Flagler College in her hometown of St. Augustine, Florida. Her interests are race relations and the civil rights movement, and she is writing her thesis on civil rights movement memory at the University of Mississippi. Click here to email Jillian McClure
Renee Ombaba is a graduate student intern from Jackson, MS. She received her Bachelor of Art in Music Performance from Jackson State University. There, she worked closely with the Student Government Association on student and community involvement to establish pride and activism in the University. She also held leadership positions in vocal and theater performance groups.
Renee is working towards a Masters in the Study of Southern Culture with an emphasize on African-American media. She has worked with the William Winter Institute for six years, and during, this time she has developed a deep appreciation for the youth involvement in political and social activism through high school clubs, College People, and especially the Winter-Evers Summer Youth Institute. Click here to email Renee Ombaba
Hope Owens-Wilson, from Jackson, MS is a student intern. She is a Southern Studies and African- American major and Theatre minor at the University. Hope is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and is currently a leader in One MS. Click here to email Hope Owens-Wilson