Drawing from his experiences growing up in the segregated Mississippi Delta, renowned author Clifton Taulbert says he’ll bring a message of hope when he gives the annual Armstrong-Branch Lecture Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Bennett Auditorium on The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus. Admission is free.
Taulbert, a Pulitzer-nominated writer, will present “You Can Walk on the Moon.” He plans to speak about the power of the “eight habits of the heart,” the title of one of his books, that can build communities and heal divisions.
“These habits of the heart are timeless and universal values,” Taulbert said. “We can’t change the past, but we can transform the future when we put those habits to work in building up a community.”
Taulbert, a native of Glen Allan, Miss., was the winner of the NAACP's 27th Image Award for Literary Work: Non-fiction for his book "When We Were Colored."
His book "The Last Train North" was the winner of the Mississippi Library Association Award. It traces the author's journey during the 1960s from Mississippi to racially integrated St Louis. The memorable characters from "Eight Habits of the Heart: Embracing the Values that Build Strong Families and Communities,” “When We Were Colored" and his other popular works appear in his first picture book titled "Little Cliff and the Porch People."
His latest book, “The Invitation,” also taps into “the far-reaching impact of the segregated culture of his youth in his adult journey from the Mississippi Delta to the world-at-large, and his personal grappling with the lingering lessons of race and place.”
The Armstrong-Branch Lecture series was established in honor of Gwendolyn Armstrong and Raylawni Branch, the university’s first African American students. The two broke the color barrier at Southern Miss when they enrolled in September 1965.
Taulbert said by establishing the lecture in honoring Armstrong and Branch, the university “provides an important legacy for its students in this recognition of two individuals who showed that the impossible is possible.”
In addition to being a best-selling author, Taulbert is president of the Freemount Marketing Company in Tulsa, Okla., where he also serves on many civic boards. He said he’s not only looking forward to presenting the lecture, but returning to his native state.
“You can only be from one place. Mississippi is my home, and it will feel good to come home,” Taulbert said.
The Armstrong-Branch Lecture is part of the University Forum Series. For more information, contact the Southern Miss Dean of Students Office at 601.266.6098 or the Honors College at 601.266.4533.