Speakers, Musicians and Fellowship Planned for Cultural Awareness Week
CLARKSDALE — Coahoma Community College will be celebrating Cultural Heritage Week beginning Monday with a week of events that will include the 65th Founders Day, the CCC Talk Show, special guest speakers and musical and dance performances from local and visiting artists.
The theme of this year’s celebration — “The Spark Still Glows and the Journey is Not Over”.
Monday, March 31
The week will kick off at 10 a.m. Monday, March 31, with presentations of the Dr. Nathanial Lowe Scholarships. Lowe is a retired U.S. Marine and founder of the Nate Lowe and Associates Consulting Services in San Diego, California, which specializes in assisting new businesses and existing businesses enter into the market of Substance Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation service.
Growing up in a family of sharecroppers, Lowe has credited his success to the opportunities that he received at CCC, where he began his collegiate career.
“Dr. Lowe encourages students to stay in school and apply themselves. He will challenge them to excel in everything they do and do not settle for less than the best,” said Rita Hanfor, chair of the CCC Cultural Awareness Week planning committee. “He recommends that they take the high road in life even when it may not appear to be popular.”
Lowe offered $500 cash scholarships to students who meet a certain guideline, which include a 3.8 GPA and a two-page essay about their educational aspirations and how they plan to use it to benefit society.
President Dr. Valmadge Towner will join Lowe in presenting the scholarships to three students, who were selected by a faculty panel from a pool of candidates. Also, during the program, Towner and Lowe will both give remarks and the scholarship recipient’s will be given the opportunity to present their essays. Ezra Howard and Angela Lackey will provide entertainment.
Monday evening will feature “The CCC Talk Show” at 6:30 p.m. in the Georgia Lewis Theatre. During the event, seven panelists will lead a discussion about the past, present and future of Coahoma Community College. The panelist will include:
Dr. McKinley C. Martin:
Dr. Martin assumed the reigns as the third President of Coahoma Junior College from 1980 to 1992. He is an alumnus of Coahoma Agricultural High School and Coahoma Junior College.
Under Dr. Martin's administration, new programs were constantly being put in place to meet the needs of the communities the college serves. During his tenure as President, Martin oversaw several new constructions and renovations on the campus, including a new residence hall for men, conversion of the old high school gym to the new Miller-Barron Fine Arts Building, and the Physical Plant building. Dr. Martin was also instrumental in securing the finances for the Pinnacle building.
Dr. Martin is married to Mrs. Willie Burns Martin and they have three children, Mac Jr., Myron and Marcia and five grandchildren.
Dr. Vivian Mathews Presley:
Dr. Presley was appointed as President of Coahoma Community College in 1992, becoming the institution’s first female president as well as the first and sole female president of a public-supported community college in Mississippi.
A native of Clay County Mississippi and the daughter of the late B. and Lula Mathews, Presley attended public schools in West Point, Mississippi. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and Doctor of Education degrees from Mississippi State University.
Presley served Coahoma Community College for over 25 years in several capacities including, Counselor, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Vice President. She retired as President in 2013.
Presley has one son Julian, daughter-in-law Chelsea, and three grandchildren.
Mary King Walker:
Walker graduated from Coahoma Agricultural High School and was a member of the first graduating class of the then-Coahoma Junior College in 1952.
During her time at CCC, Walker served as a pioneer, becoming the first female to hold first chair in the trumpet/cornet section of the Coahoma Agricultural High School/Coahoma Junior College Band. Upon graduation from Coahoma, she enrolled at Alcorn College currently Alcorn State University (ASU), where she continued her legacy as the first female to hold first chair in the trumpet/cornet section of ASU's Band.
After graduating from ASU in 1954, Walker returned to teach Health & Physical Education at CCC. She moved on the Chicago Public School system, where she retired after 31 years of service.
Charles F. Reid:
Reid has served as a pioneer and as a catalyst for Coahoma Community College and the Clarksdale community for many years.
Reid has worked at CCC as an instructor, the Director of Institutional Development and Public Relations, Title III Coordinator, and Dean of Instruction. In the community, Reid has served on various boards, including the Coahoma County Chambers of Commerce, The American Red Cross, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., chairman of the Coahoma Opportunities Inc. Board of Directors, and the Clarksdale/Coahoma County hospital board.
Eddie C. “Smitty” Smith:
Smith has had ties with Coahoma Community College for most of his life. He is a graduate of Coahoma Agricultural High School and Coahoma Community College and began his teaching career at CCC in 1966 as a lab assistant in the Science Department. He also later served as an instructor and the Director of Alumni Affairs.
In the community, Smith was a long-time member and President of the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors. Under his leadership, the board contributed $3 million to the construction of CCC’s Allied Health Training Center. He was also instrumental in the development of the four-lane boulevard leading to the campus. To highlight his many contributions, CCC’s Sportsplex is named in Smith’s honor.
Together, Smith and his wife, Nancy Williams Smith, have continued to be a powerful voice for CCC.
A graduate of Delta State University, Green currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Mississippi Delta Council for Farm Workers Opportunities, Inc. (MDC/FWOI). Organized in 1971, MDC/FWOI is a non-profit organization that operates programs to assist migrant and seasonal farm workers in the State of Mississippi by helping them seek alternatives to agricultural labor and by improving the quality of life of those who wish to remain in agriculture. During 43 years of operation, MDC/FWOI has offered assistance to more than 60,000 people.
Green also uses his capacity to help serve the Clarksdale community. He has expanded the programs provided by MDC/FWOI to include a food pantry for the community as well as a Disaster Relief Center that provides essential items for victims of natural or man-made disasters. During the summer, the center also serves as a “Farmer’s Market”, providing fresh vegetables from local farmers to the public.
Charles “Buster” Moton:
Charles "Buster" Moton, a Coahoma Community College alumnus, currently serves the City of Clarksdale as Commissioner of Ward 3.
Moton is a 1971 graduate of Coahoma Agricultural High School and a 1974 graduate of Coahoma Junior College. In 2001, he was elected by the citizens of Ward 3 as Commissioner and has held the position for the past twelve years.
When asked what he likes most about his job, Commissioner Moton said, "I sleep well at night knowing I've done my best to help others."
Moton is married to Dr. Mary Frances Dear-Moton and is the father of two children, Rosalyn Griffin and Jermaine Buster Moton, four stepchildren and 11 grandchildren.
Tuesday, April 1
Coahoma welcomes Associate Professor of Urban Higher Education, History and Geography at Jackson State University, Dr. Hilliard L. Lackey to the Magnolia Room located inside the Zee A. Barron Student Union at noon as a special guest speaker.
Dr. Lackey is a native of Quitman County and a graduate of Palmer High School. He holds bachelors, masters and education specialist’s degrees from Jackson State University. He also attended the University of Arkansas and the University of Mississippi where he earned the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Higher Education. His entire career has been in higher education as an administrator and faculty member mostly at Jackson State University. His research interests are two-fold: (1) Historical Geography of the Mississippi Delta and (2) How to Help Black Children Succeed in Schools and Colleges.
He has written several books including “Marks, Martin and the Mule Train”, “Mining Delta Minds”, “Storm Splitter”, “WWJD and Puppy Love in a Rosenwald School”, and “Raising Geniuses”. He has served as a columnist for the Clarksdale Press Register and a television program host for Memphis Pubic Television. He is a football referee and baseball umpire.
His passion is recruiting and mentoring college students. Since 1967, he has recruited approximately 200 students per year to Jackson State University where he also teaches and mentors many of these same students. He believes lives change when people care.
On Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Pinnacle, the Reverend Dr. Lance E. Brown and his Public Awareness Theatre will be performing their original play, “The Circle of Love”.
Brown, who was forced from the pulpit by illness, founded the Public Awareness Theatre ministry in 1984. He has developed six plays that his team of traveling actors has presented in 39 states, he said. The ministry functions out of Baton Rouge, but the cast and director are based in Atlanta. “Circle of Love” is about life itself, and features couples that find themselves at odds over issues, including hairstyles and placement of tattoos, issues they ultimately work through as God comes into their lives and changes them for the better.
Wednesday, April 2
A Founder’s Day celebration will be hosted at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Pinnacle. The guest speaker for the event is CCC alumni and pastor Dr. Jerry Young.
A native of Scott, Mississippi, Young is one of ten children born to the Reverend E.L. and Elizabeth Young. He was called to ministry at the age of 17, and his service began at Mt. Tennia Baptist Church in Lamont, Mississippi and later St. John and Pilgrim Rest Baptist Churches in Greenville. He has led New Hope Baptist Church since 1980 and is the founder and headmaster of the New Hope Christian Preschool and New Hope Christian Elementary School, which together serve over 300 students from infant to 6th grade.
Young received an Associate of Arts in Social Science degree from CCC and went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Social Welfare from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He earned a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson.
He has played an active role in the community, serving on several local, state and national boards and receiving numerous prestigious honors and awards.
Young is married to Helen Akins Young and they have two daughters, Dr. Jerien Nelson and Kelli Elizabeth (Benjamin) Hart, and four grandchildren.
The day will conclude with evening fellowship, led by the Rev. Zedric Clayton II, at 6:30 p.m. in the Pinnacle. Clayton, a native of Memphis, serves as the Senior Pastor at Real Faith Church, The City of Truth in Clarksdale. Affectionately called “Pastor Zed”, Clayton has also served as the youth pastor of Olivet Fellowship Baptist Church, located in Memphis.
Clayton is a graduate of Wooddale High School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Organizational Management from Crichton College and has a Master of Christian Studies degree from the Union University School of Theology and Missions in Jackson, Tenn.
He is married to Erica L. Clayton and is the father of two daughters, Marian and Madison.
Thursday, April 3
Dr. Vernard Johnson, CEO and Founder of Amazing Grace International and of the Vernard Johnson Concert Ministry, will demonstrate why he has been recognized as the “The Greatest Gospel Saxophonist in the World” during a special performance Thursday at noon in The Pinnacle.
Johnson serves in many capacities as a pastor, gospel recording artist, Symphony Orchestra conductor and composer, and the author of two books and over 50 songs. He was recently inducted in to the International Gospel Hall of Fame and received the “Lifetime Achievement Award”.
Johnson earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Emporia State University; a Master of Church Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and the first African American to receive a Doctorate in Sacred Music with a minor in Theology from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is presently working on his second doctorate degree in Expository Preaching at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
Johnson has performed before over 400 million people, including Kings, Queens and Presidents of many nations such as the President of Kenya, Haiti, Liberia, Nigeria, Coast d’Ivory, and several American Presidents including Bush, Sr., Ronald Reagan. On two occasions, he performed before President Bill Clinton, where his rendition of “Amazing Grace” was said to be so moving that Clinton wept while he played.
Thursday’s event will conclude with a Cultural Awareness Talent Show at 6:30 in the Pinnacle. The event will be highlighted by a performance from Zamar. The lineup will also include the Delta Blues Museum’s DMB Band as well as local dance groups the Jazzy Diva and The Sparkling Jewels.
Sunday, April 6
The weeklong schedule of events will close at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 6, with a Spring Gospel Concert at New Covenant M.B. Church, located at 340 Mississippi Ave. in Clarksdale.
Sponsored by the CCC choral music department, the free event will be feature the CCC choir, joined by several alumni members. The evening will cap off with a special performance by national gospel recording artist Crystal Rucker, who will sing a gospel rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as well as other well-known favorites.