CCC celebrates 2015 Cultural Awareness Week
CLARKSDALE – It has been a time of remembrance, inspiration, celebration and commemoration at Coahoma Community College as the college paused to observe Cultural Awareness Week.

CCC celebrates 2015 Cultural Awareness Week

Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4061 - Brittany Davis-Green -


Thu Apr 16, 2015

The Founders Day Celebration concluded with special recognition of retirees and service awards. Those honored were, front row, from left, Patricia Sykes, 15 years; Mary Holmes, 15 years; Omie Terry, 20 years; Renee’ Sanford, 15 years; LaShasa Griffin, 15 years; Rose Lockett, 25 years; Julia Shelton, retiree, 27 years; (back row) CCC President Dr. Valmadge Towner; Jesse Nunley, 20 years; and Otha Williams, 15 years. Not pictured is Charles Butler, retiring after 25 years of service.

CLARKSDALE – It has been a time of remembrance, inspiration, celebration and commemoration at Coahoma Community College as the college paused to observe Cultural Awareness Week.

The annual weeklong celebration is set aside as a time for CCC students, faculty, staff, alumni and community to reflect on the college’s past while highlighting the present and celebrating the future.

April 13: Dr. Emmitt C. Burns, Jr.

This year’s celebration kicked off Monday with Baptist minister, civil rights professional and motivational speaker Dr. Emmitt C. Burns. A native of Jackson, MS, Burns mesmerized the crowd with his soulful, baritone voice as he effortlessly recited Sam Walter Foss’s “The House by the Side of the Road” which set the tone for his poetic, theological and philosophical message entitled “Traveling through Shark Infested Waters”.

Burns briefed the audience on Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, the inspiration behind his theme “Traveling Through Shark Infested Waters”.  

“I want to say to you young people, take care when traveling through shark infested waters for there are all types of sharks out there—drugs, violence, poverty—but you are in the best place to survive the waters right here, right now.”

He then discussed the “ships” that could lead the students to success, including scholar “ship”,  leader “ship”, friend “ship” and disciple “ship” before concluding with the poem, “The Hand of God”.

CLICK HERE to view more photos on CCC’s Facebook page.

April 14: Dr. Hilliard Lackey, III

Tuesday, CCC’s observance of Cultural Awareness Week continued with a special lecture by Dr. Hilliard lackey, associate professor of Urban Higher Education, History and Geography at Jackson State University.

Lackey is a native of Quitman County and holds bachelors, masters, and education specialist degrees from Jackson State University and also attended the University of Arkansas and the University of Mississippi where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education. He has worked in higher education as a faculty member and administrator and has been recognized for his outstanding efforts as a recruiter for Jackson State University.

Lackey to a look back at history to demonstrate how it CCC, higher education and current events are all interrelated.

Accompanied by a power point presentation, Lackey laid the argument for his message by tracing the history of humans to Africa. He then gave the audience a crash-course on the history of African Americans from slavery to present-day with the goal of relating the past with current events.

“It’s all about understanding you culture,” said Lackey. “We didn’t make it like this; we found it. You can either leave it like it is or change it.”

He then encouraged students to take advantage of the opportunity to get an education, referring to CCC as the “saving grace of people in the Delta”. He left students with one final dose of inspiration by having them recite the slogan, “If the dream is to be, it is up to me!”.

Cultural Awareness Week activities continued Tuesday with Tiger Nation Tailgating, hosted from noon to 6 p.m. at the Eddie C. Smith Sports Complex followed by a special performance by Comedian Small Fire.

CLICK HERE to view more photos on CCC’s Facebook page.

April 15: Founders Day Celebration

The highlight of Cultural Awareness Week is always the Founders Day Celebration, used as a cumulative event to reflect on the College’s past and celebrate the future.

CCC President Dr. Valmadge Towner presided over the 66th annual program, which included two musical selections from CCC’s choir, under the direction of Kelvin Towers.

Derrick Simmons highlighted the program as the guest speaker. A native of Greenville, MS, Simmons is a trial lawyer, former municipal court judge, and a current Mississippi State Senator. He is the co-founder and co-owner of Simmons & Simmons, PLLC Attorneys at Law of Greenville, where he heads the criminal defense division.

A product of Greenville Public Schools, where he graduated valedictorian of his high school class, Simmons received a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Jackson State University, a Masters of Business Administration in accounting and finance from the Howard University College of Business and a Juris Doctorate from the Howard University School of Law.

“Founders Day is a time to pause and celebrate your rich past and your promising future. No matter how colleges and universities chose to honor their Founders Day, I have found that Founders Day is always about history, the here and the hereafter,” said Simmons as he opened his speech.

He then reflected on America’s past and its ramifications on contemporary social justice issues.

“Time does not erase the challenges of our past and the continuing struggles of our future,” said Simmons. “What we have seen is a recognition of the unfinished work of this country, a recall of generations seeking the American dream and a realization of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice that we will share fully in the rights and privileges in this great nation.”

Echoing the popular saying, “you cannot know where you are going if you don’t know where you come from,” Simmons encouraged the audience to embrace history but don’t let it overstep the present.

“There is no time like the present … be not dismayed at the challenges that we face during the here because there is always a hereafter,” said Simmons. “Together we must come together and support Coahoma Community College as it faces challenges based upon the region that it is located. We have to recognize the foundation has been laid and that during the hereafter, Coahoma Community College will continue to soar, reach new heights and see prosperity.”

The Founders Day Celebration concluded with special recognition of retirees and service awards. Those honored with service awards were: Rose Lockett, 25 years; Jesse Nunley, 20 years; Patricia Sykes, 15 years; Omie Terry, 20 years; Otha Williams, 15 years; LaShasa Griffin, 15 years; Mary Holmes, 15 years; and Renee’ Sanford, 15 years. This year’s retirees included Julia Shelton after 27 years and Charles Butler after 25 years of service.

“It takes this type of sustainability to run an organization effectively,” said Towner. “We’re happy for and celebrate each of you who have reached these milestones over the years.”

Cultural Awareness Week concludes Thursday with the dedication of CCC’s Allied Health Training, to be named in honor of CCC Board of Trustee member Robert G. Mason.

CLICK HERE to view more photos of the Founder’s Day Celebration on CCC’s Facebook page.