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The Academy Stories/Admissions with Ellen Ann Fentress and Neely Tucker (Prince George’s County Memorial Library) – VIRTUAL
January 13 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Writer-filmmaker Ellen Ann Fentress has spent the last decade capturing ways that the South’s racial past affects in its present. Her current project The Academy Stories/Admissions publishes first-person accounts from students who took part of–or ran away from– school integration since its 1970 start in the South. The essays, collected online, are an opportunity for now-adult writers to examine how the school experience formed (or malformed) their racial consciousness. The truth-telling project has been featured in the Washington Post, Slate, Mother Jones, The Hechinger Report, Forbes and The American Conservative. Fentress is a graduate of Pillow Academy in Greenwood, Mississippi.
“As the national conversation on racism intensifies, I hope our work is a model for more people to search their personal and community history,” she said.
The Academy Stories side of the online project publishes alumni stories from the 4,000-odd private academies started circa 1970 for white students to flee public school integration. While many academies folded within a few years, some survive still, typically with small enrollments of Black students now as well. Taking part in the January 13 conversation will be Neely Tucker, an alumnus of Starkville (Mississippi) Academy, whose essay has been the site’s most viral. Tucker is a novelist, journalist and author based in Washington, D.C. Tucker’s memoir Love in the Driest Season was named one of the 25 Best Books of 2004 on several lists.
In addition to the digital Academy/Admissions project, Fentress produced the 2016 documentary film on civil-rights journalist Wilson Minor, Eyes on Mississippi. The film explores milestones of the movement, featuring local Mississippi TV footage unseen since its initial 1950s and 1960s broadcast.