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Creative Arts Festival sponsored by Jackson State University

The Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University is pleased to announce its schedule of events for the 13th annual Creative Arts Festival at Jackson State University on Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13, 2019. Free and open to the public thanks in part to the Mississippi Arts Commission, this year's program boasts high profile keynote speakers such as Kevin Powell and Jesse Holland, strong community partners, diverse plenary sessions, and 13 concurrent sessions with nearly 40 student presenters.

“We are excited to once again host this annual student conference at JSU,” said Dr. Robert Luckett, Margaret Walker Center Director. “Our goal for the past 13 years has been to offer the same kinds of opportunities that our founder, Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander, provided for students to promote their own scholarship and art and to engage some of the great scholars and artists of the day.”


The Creative Arts Festival will begin on Friday, April 12, with an opening plenary session, sponsored by the ACLU of Mississippi, at 10:00 a.m. in the Ayer Hall at the Margaret Walker Center on the JSU campus. This session will be a conversation, film screening, and exhibition opening for “I Too Am Mississippi: Breaking the Silence on Trans Harassment and Discrimination through Narrative Change.”

 At 12:00 p.m. on Friday in the JSU Student Center Theater, Creative Arts Festival attendees will see a screening of The Hello Girls, the story of 223 women sent to France by the U.S. Army Signal Corps as telephone operators to help win the Great War in 1918. Filmmaker and JSU history alumnus James Theres and Air War College professor Margaret Sankey will be on hand to discuss the film.

After the film screening and discussion at 2:00 p.m., another plenary session in the Theater will address the conference theme of “Arts and Activism” with three Mississippi writers and artists: Phillip Rollins, Justin Ransburg, and Jesse Holland, whom Marvel Comics hired to write the Black Panther novel in conjunction with the release of the film. Also known as DJ Young Venom, Rollins is a Jackson entrepreneur and owner of Offbeat, an alternative culture store that specializes in designer toys, graphic novels, records, and art books. Ransburg has become known for his acrylic paintings, murals, and photography, and he will be opening PROTEST: Collective Action Leads to Change, an exhibition on the 4th floor of Ayer Hall at the Margaret Walker Center in conjunction with the Creative Arts Festival.

 The Creative Arts Festival events will close on Friday with a reception and photography exhibition opening of Everywhere with Roy Lewis, sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Johnson Hall Art Gallery at JSU. Lewis will be on hand for a gallery talk, and the exhibition will be on display until June 28.

 In partnership with the Crossroads Film Festival, special $5 tickets will be available for Creative Arts Festival attendees who wear their badges at the door at Malco Grandview Cinema (Screen A) in Madison at 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 12, for the screening of Native Son, the critically acclaimed HBO film, based on Richard Wright’s classic novel.

All student presentations at the Creative Arts Festival will begin on Saturday, April 13, at JSU. A continental breakfast and registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the JSU Student Center. There will be three concurrent sessions from 9:00 to 10:15 a.m., 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., and 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. in both Ayer Hall and the JSU Student Center.

At 12:00 p.m. on Saturday in the JSU Student Center Ballroom B, Jesse Holland will keynote a free luncheon and talk about his work as a writer from Mississippi.

 At 3:00 p.m. in the JSU Student Center Theater, author and activist Kevin Powell will deliver the closing address, sponsored by the Greater Jackson Arts Council, and the Creative Arts Festival will conclude with its annual Phi Alpha Theta Award for the best history paper as well as the annual $1,000 Margaret Walker Award for the best essay by a JSU student “on the black experience in the American South.”

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Center’s website at or contact the Center’s staff at 601-979-3935 or

Earlier Event: April 11
Crossroads Film Festival