Two men, one white and one Black who were born within a few months of each other and raised in the South, one near Atlanta, the other in Galveston, will discuss the lingering impacts of Jim Crow laws on their upbringing at the 2023 ISCORE (Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity) Friday, March 3, in the Memorial Union. Due to high volume, online registration for ISCORE closes Friday, Feb. 17.
Japannah Joseph Kellogg Jr., who leads the ISCORE project, and Patrick Phillips, Stanford University English professor who researched and wrote the 2016 book, "Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America," share an understanding gained from very different experiences: Kellogg confined by a seemingly strict mother who he later realized was desperate to keep him safe, Phillips bit by bit rejecting the disdain for Black citizens he witnessed in his hometown and finding the courage to advocate for equality among races.
Phillips' book connected them. From age 7, Phillips grew up in Forsyth County, Georgia (now suburban Atlanta), the setting for his "Blood at the Roots." The book shares the details of fall 1912 in Forsyth County when, in response to the rape and murder of an 18-year-old white teen, white residents lynched three young Black men and over two months' time, through arson, threats and terror, drove out all 1,098 Black citizens of the county, burning down homes, churches and businesses and claiming "abandoned" land for themselves. Kellogg's great-grandparents, Joseph and Eliza Kellogg, were born slaves but had managed to accumulate 200 farmed acres as free citizens, the most of any Black residents in the county.
Author Patrick Phillips also will give a public lecture about Forsyth County's violent history on Thursday, March 2 (6 p.m., MU Great Hall).
History supplies numerous examples of white violence against Black people, both short-lived incidents and community erasures. What set this one apart is that white residents of Forsyth County succeeded in repelling Black residents for nearly 90 years. In 1987 -- 75 years later -- suppression of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day "brotherhood" march in Forsyth County received national attention, including from two then-17-year-old boys.
The men's first phone conversation last year was personal. After finishing "Blood at the Roots," Kellogg wanted to talk to the author with so much insight into his ancestors' history, and Phillips was pleased to talk to a descendant of people mentioned by name in his book. Kellogg said several days later the idea came to him to invite Phillips to ISCORE. The two could share the similarities and contrasts in their parallel lives.
"Over the years of leading this project, I take pride and I take it seriously that I've cultivated a space that has allowed us to be vulnerable. Our keynote speakers typically share a little bit of their journey, and we benefit from people telling their stories," Kellogg said. "For me personally, it's an honor and a privilege, but it's also frightening to participate in a project that I hold near and dear."
Kellogg said Phillips' book wasn't easy to finish.
"There was some compartmentalizing because I knew how it was going to end," he said. "The stuff you know doesn't sound good, doesn't feel good. It isn't good. I hope to be able to articulate what it felt like, reading."
Their conversation will be moderated by alumna Ashley Garrin, who leads the McNair Program in the Graduate College for first-generation and underserved populations.
ISCORE, Wednesday preconference
Phillips and Kellogg's conversation will be the 1 p.m. keynote session Friday following lunch. Friday's opening session (8:30 a.m.) will feature faculty panelists who reflect on their experiences at the 2022 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) last summer in Portland, Oregon.
Faculty, staff and graduate students are welcome at a preconference on Wednesday, March 1 (10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.). It includes one morning and two afternoon breakout sessions and a keynote address at 3:10 p.m. by Corey Welch, director of the STEM Scholars program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He'll talk about the strengths of being a first-generation, low-income undergraduate, aligning his values with the scientific research he did, and applying learned skills to create the STEM Scholars community.
The preconference's opening session (11 a.m.) will feature an abbreviated version of the yearlong Professional Development Academy for faculty and staff attending their first or second NCORE. Several participants in this year's academy will discuss the advantages of approaching diversity, equity and inclusion work supported by professionals across campus units and divisions and employee classifications.