NLCC readies for 25th-annual event

Published 12:09 am Thursday, November 28, 2013

NATCHEZ — The theme for the 25th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration is, “60 Years and Counting: Voices of the Civil Rights Movement.”

The event, which is an award-winning humanities-based conference in Natchez, will take place Feb. 20-23.

“The 2014 NLCC will take place 60 years after a United States Supreme Court decision called Brown v. Board of Education declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional,” said Carolyn Vance Smith, NLCC founder and co-chairwoman representing Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez.

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“The NLCC will also take place 50 years after the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination in public places. These decisions caused sweeping changes, which continue to permeate our country’s daily life.”

Lectures, films, concerts, tours, book signings and panel discussions will explore the conference theme from the aspects of history, literature, music, film, journalism and church ministries, Smith said.

Registration is not required for the mostly free conference, which is headquartered at the Natchez Convention Center.

The keynote address, “Fulfilling the Dream,” will be by David G. Sansing, Professor of History Emeritus at The University of Mississippi.

Other topics and speakers are, but are not limited to:

• “The Development of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum: The Story Will Be Told” by Jacqueline Dace, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson

• “Why Not Let the Past Rest? — Award-winning journalists and a bestselling novelist discuss the necessity of confronting the darkest chapters of America’s past” by Stanley Nelson, Pulitzer Prize finalist at The Concordia Sentinel; Jerry Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize finalist at The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson; and Greg Iles, New York Times best-selling author of a forthcoming trilogy of books set in Natchez during the Civil Rights Movement.

• “‘The Help’ — Fact, Fiction and Appeal” by Gene Dattel, New York, N.Y., author of “Cotton and Race in the Making of America”

• “Mississippi Rebels: Elvis Presley, Fannie Lou Hamer and the South’s Culture of Religious Music” by Charles Reagan Wilson, The University of Mississippi, co-editor of “The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture”

Enhancing the lecture series are free events, including:

• A premiere screening of a documentary film about the life and career of William F. Winter, former Governor of Mississippi, produced by The Southern Documentary Project, The University of Mississippi.

• A screening of “The Help,” a film based on a novel by the same name by Kathryn Stockett, Atlanta.

• Presentation of the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award to James Meredith, Jackson, Miss., author of “A Mission from God: A Memoir and Challenge for America” and to Kathryn Stockett, author of “The Help.”

• Presentation of the Horton Foote Award for Special Achievement in Screenwriting to Tate Taylor, screenwriter of “The Help.”

• A tour of four historically black downtown churches, Rose Hill Baptist Church, Beulah Baptist Church, Holy Family Catholic Church and Zion Chapel A.M.E. Church, with remarks about each church’s role during the Civil Rights movement.

Several events are ticketed, including:

• A reception at the Natchez Museum of African-American History and Culture ($10 at the door).

• A luncheon at the Carriage House at Stanton Hall with music of the Civil Rights era ($25)

• A benefit reception and dinner at Dunleith mansion ($135, with $100 tax-deductible).

• A concert of Civil Rights-era music by Tougaloo (Miss.) College Choir ($10).

The Celebration is sponsored by Co-Lin and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, with assistance from the Natchez National Historical Park. Co-chairman with Smith is Jim Barnett of MDAH.

Serving as program advisors are Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, Natchez mayor pro tempore; Valencia Hall, MDAH board of trustees; Kathleen Jenkins, Natchez National Historical Park superintendent; and Sansing.

For more information or a complete conference agenda, visit, email or calling 866-296-NLCC.