The University of Tennessee at Martin’s Civil Rights Conference seeks to foster dialogue and understanding around issues related to civil rights, equality, and justice. Through a series of dynamic voices, the CRC hopes to broaden students’ educational experience and enhance their understanding on the American Civil Rights Movement and its relationship to current events and social issues. The monthlong conference brings academic and regional communities together to recognize the ongoing work promoting civil rights. The Civil Rights Conference will also serve as a source for the preservation and documentation of civil rights history.

Keynote Speakers

Carmarry 'Pep-C' Hall
Break Dancer - Paris 2024 Summer Olympics

Feb. 6, 6pm - Watkins Auditorium

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Carmarry 'Pep-C' Hall

Roland S. Martin
Journalist & Multimedia Host

Feb. 13, 6pm - Watkins Auditorium

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Roland S. Martin

Dr. Eddie Glaude
Author, Scholar & Political Analyst

Feb. 20, 6pm - Watkins Auditorium

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Dr. Eddie Glaude

Schedule of Events

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  • STEM School of Chattanooga Art Exhibition

    Feb. 1-29
    Lobby STEM School Chattanooga
  • Student & Professional Networking Event

    Feb. 8
    Room 230
  • Student Art Exhibition

    Feb. 12-29
    Welcome Center Hallway (Presented by the Department of Visual & Theatre Arts)
  • Montgomery EJI Presentation

    (Sponsored by the Weakley County Reconciliation Project & ART EXHIBIT AWARDS Presented by Dr. Jason Stout & UTM Students) Feb. 15
    Watkins Auditorium
  • Night of Dance

    (Presented by the Department of Music) Feb. 21
    Watkins Auditorium
    View live stream
  • Music by Black Composers

    (Presented by the Department of Music) Feb. 25
    Blankenship Recital Hall Fine Arts Building
  • Community Health Fair & Children's Literacy Event

    Feb. 26
    Martin Public Library, 410 S. Lindell St.
  • Black History Month Music Trivia

    (Presented by the Department of Music) Feb. 26
    Room 206
  • Black Avenue: Black Business Expo

    (Keithon Currie, Organizer)
    Feb. 17
    (Time: 1-5 P.M.)
  • Academic Conference

    Panel: “Teaching While Black”
    Facilitator: Dr. Danny Pirtle
    Feb. 22
    Paul Meek Library (Time: 3 P.M. - 4:30 P.M.)

*All events will be held in the Boling University Center unless noted otherwise.

  • Serve the West Tennessee community of people, students, and scholars 
  • Increase awareness of and document civil rights history in West Tennessee and the nation 
  • Increase awareness of students, faculty, and staff of equity and justice issues 
  • Promote an atmosphere conducive to increased knowledge and understanding of African American culture and issues 
  • Offer students an opportunity to interact with civil rights leaders through oral interviews, historical internships, and other activities 
  • Encourage student participation in and training for the preparation of conferences 
  • Promote the study of history and culture 

In February 2001, at the urging of alumnus Judge Tommy Moore, the first Tom Elam History Roundtable was hosted by the University of Tennessee at Martin’s Department of History and Political Science. The theme centered on the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike. From the very beginning, this project was structured to expand outward, and to reverberate beyond the Department of History and Political Science (now Department of History and Philosophy). The planning committee decided to hold a series of conferences about the history of West Tennessee’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Soon after, committee members began planning for a second conference in 2002, on the theme of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court redistricting case Baker v. Carr, with the goal of establishing an annual event.   

The UTM Civil Rights Conference aims to document living history by featuring speakers and panelists who are involved in the work of promoting equity and justice. The event also recognizes outstanding contributions by Americans who are dedicated to advancing equity and justice. Through nationally renowned speakers, conference proceedings, exhibits, and cultural performances, UT Martin has become a source for the preservation and documentation of civil rights history in West Tennessee and the nation. The Civil Rights Conference has expanded into a monthlong event bringing scholars and justice advocates like Michael Eric Dyson, Nikki Giovanni, UTM alumnus Van Jones, Robin DiAngelo, Tim Wise, Rev. William Barber, Cyntoia Brown, and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland to conference audiences. UTM is the only university in the country that hosts a civil rights conference that spans one month. Our livestreaming capabilities have also enhanced our audience and participant base.

UTM’s Civil Rights Conference is an extension of the classroom, giving students the opportunity to engage with presenters not only at the scholarly level, but at the personal level. Visits to historically and culturally significant sites stress the value of those sites and their connections to history. Examining the importance of the Civil Rights Movement for today, exploring one's values, and getting to know one another encourages knowledge and promotes understanding in the spirit of unity, which are central tenets of Dr. Martin Luther King's philosophy.

CRC Committee Composition

Henri Giles, Chair

Kameron R. Echols

Danny Wayne Pirtle, Jr.

Dominique Crockett

Austin Shamar Ferrell

Justice Watkins

ZeVida A. Jones

Samantha Hutcherson

Alisha Melton