Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jackson, Miss- The Starting Point

JACKSON, Miss.-- How appropriate to begin my "Seven Cities, Six Weeks" Tour in the Mississippi State Capital. It's the place where a high-profile civil rights case is going to trial.

James Seale is being tried on federal kidnapping and conspiracy charts in the 1964 deaths of two black teens. It is refreshing to see the Clarion-Ledger taking a position on the importance of the trials on its editorial pages.

Not related to the trial, however, my experience making this journey on May 1 was to visit the campus of Jackson State University.

I am fortunate to be serving on a doctoral dissertation committee for a student at Jackson State. It's not only a chance for to see this colleague complete her terminal degree, but also a chance to visit another historically black college or university.

As a product of an HBCU (Howard U.), I have a special place in my heart for these schools that educate more African-Americans than any other institution for careers in journalism and mass communication. Today, Jackson State University has the nation's only E-Ph.D. or Executive Ph.D. program in urban higher education.

That's where I visited on May 1.

I didn't walk the grounds of the main campus. Instead, I spent most of the day at the Jake Ayers Institute for Urban Higher Education, which is in the same building as the University's TV station, TV 23.

I got to tour the facility and speak with one of the production assistants who shoots and edits local content for the station, which up until recently aired programming from the Black Family Channel.

After meeting on the JSU campus, I ventured downtown to see the Mississippi State Capitol. Unfortunately, time did not permit me to go inside to see the hub of Mississippi's state government. But, at least I know where it is -- just off Interstate 55.

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