Fall Semester Honor Roll Announced

The Office of Admissions and Records at Jackson State Community College released the honor roll for the Fall 2017 semester. On the honor roll, there were 297 full-time students who achieved a quality point average over 3.00. There were 418 students who made the dean’s list by achieving a quality point average of 3.50 or better.

Honor Roll is reserved for students who are enrolled for twelve (12) or more hours of college-level work (Learning Support excluded) and who complete a semester’s work with a quality point average between 3.00 and 3.49.

Dean’s List is reserved for students who are enrolled for twelve (12) or more hours of college-level work and who complete a semester’s work with a quality point average between 3.50 and 4.00.

Jackson State to host memorial for lynching victims

In 1886, Eliza Woods, a black woman, was dragged into the street by an angry mob of Jackson residents who robbed her of due process and fairness. Accused of committing a crime for which she never had an opportunity to stand trial, she was beaten, hanged and shot in front of the courthouse downtown.

She was one of three documented lynchings of African Americans in Madison County. John Brown died in 1891, and Frank Ballard died 1894, all murdered because of the color of their skin. Between 1877 and 1950, there were 233 documented lynchings in Tennessee and more than 4,000 throughout the South.

To honor the victims and remember the past, Jackson State Community College is serving as an anchor institution for the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit advocate of racial justice. On Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. in Ayers Auditorium, the school will host a public ceremony with community leaders from different backgrounds to memorialize the victims.

Sponsors include the Madison County Chapter of the NAACP, the Lane College Chapter of the NAACP and the Equal Justice Initiative. Bob Raines, Jackson State Professor of Psychology and co-organizer for the event, added that Madison County NAACP President Harrell Carter and Lane College Historian Ameera Graves were great partners to work with while planning the ceremony.

“We need to take an honest, unflinching look at a disturbing and painful part of our history,” said Raines. “This history shapes our present; it is our cultural inheritance. I just don’t think as a society that we have ever fully owned the anguish, humiliation and damage caused by institutionalized racism.”

Similar ceremonies have been held in Brownsville, Alamo and cities throughout the South. They are opportunities for communities to heal and rally around shared values of equality and justice. Raines attended the event in Alamo, which was organized by attorney Jim Emison and served as a catalyst for Jackson’s ceremony, and he said it was a powerful moment that brought everyone to tears.

“While the purpose of the ceremony was to expose and face a horrific act of violence and injustice, its ultimate impact, I think, was positive and hopeful,” Raines said. “I witnessed first-hand the potential healing power of people coming together to openly confront this kind of injustice. During that brief moment in time, racial, political and ideological differences between the people in that space seemed to melt away.”

The events are part of a greater effort by the Equal Justice Initiative to remember the past via the Memorial to Lynching Victims in Montgomery, Ala. The memorial is collecting soil samples in jars from the location of each lynching as a profound display of the violence and injustice that thrived long after slavery ended.

“We are all burdened by this history,” said Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. “Lynching reinforced a legacy of racial inequality that has never been adequately addressed in America. You can’t have reconciliation without empathy, and you can’t have empathy unless people learn, know and understand the past pain that informs our present and hobbles our future.”

Raines said that parts of the history of Madison County are antithetical to some of the community’s core principles, such as equality, liberty, fairness, honesty and justice. As coordinator of Jackson State’s Honors Program, he reached out to the Equal Justice Initiative to invite a representative to campus to speak about the history of lynchings. The organization responded by asking Jackson State to become an anchor institution and co-sponsor a ceremony.

“Our ceremony will be an opportunity to reassert our commitment to these values as a community,” Raines said. “In spite of the reason for the ceremony, we think it will be a positive, healing experience and hopefully inspire a greater sense of community.”

Community Remembrance: A Memorial for the Lynching Victims of Madison County will include speakers, such as Carter, Attorney General Jody Pickens, and various historians, professors, and pastors. James Mayo composed a piece of original music for the event, which he will perform on guitar, and Esther Gray-Lemus will direct Innovation, Jackson State’s choral ensemble. James Cherry will also read a poem that he wrote specifically for the event.

“We hope to create a space for honest dialogue,” Raines said. “It is through ceremonies like these that we can acknowledge and tell the whole truth about our social and cultural inheritance and honor the memory of people who were victims of injustice. The three victims from Madison County – Eliza Woods, John Brown and Frank Ballard – deserve a time and space for sober reflection, where we state unequivocally that what happened to them was wrong.”

For more information about the Equal Justice Initiative, visit www.eji.org.

Jackson State expands criminal justice offerings

Jackson State Community College launched an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice geared toward students who want to enter the workforce early and law enforcement officers who want to advance their careers.

The program was recently approved by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Jackson State’s accrediting agency. The criminal justice program was created through a concerted effort with local and area law enforcement agencies.

“There was a lot of interest when we met with law enforcement leadership from across West Tennessee,” said Dr. Nell Senter, Jackson State’s Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “This program was created in response to that and the interest in criminal justice among our students.”

The degree includes two tracks: corrections and law enforcement. The corrections track provides courses on probation and parole, the juvenile justice system, and correctional counseling. The law enforcement track offers courses on criminal investigation, understanding terrorism and tactical talks.

Both include classes on mental health aspects, report writing and internship opportunities.

One of the new classes, understanding terrorism, is expected to be taught by an experienced FBI agent. Jackson State will develop as many as 10-13 new courses over time as the first group of students move through the program. Students in the program will also take four classes that are already required for the criminal justice associate degree, which is a transfer pathway.

The criminal justice associate of applied science degree program is designed for students who wish to begin working in criminal justice fields immediately after community college. It is also for those already employed in law enforcement but want to advance.

“They may need a college degree in order to advance in their career or just wish to pursue more training,” Senter said.

And unlike the school’s criminal justice associate degree, which lays the groundwork for a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college, the associate of applied science degree is designed to be completed in as little as two years. “It is an instrumental way to get college courses for criminal justice and still get into the workplace as soon as possible,” she said.

The program will begin initially with 10 to 15 students. Senter said that number is expected to grow over time based on the interest already shown by students and community members in the program.

“There has always been a tremendous amount of interest from our students in criminal justice,” she said.

Jackson State launches fire science program


People seeking a career as a firefighter or current firefighters who want to climb the ranks can benefit from a new degree in fire science at Jackson State Community College.

The associate of applied science degree was recently approved by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Jackson State’s accrediting agency. The fire science program, which will begin next fall, is open to any college-ready student pursuing a career as a firefighter.

The program offers two tracks: firefighter and leadership administration. It is a good place to start for students looking to enter the field or advance their careers, said Dr. Tom Pigg, dean of Health Sciences and Computer Information Technology.

“Firefighters need a degree to advance to higher levels,” Pigg said. “This is an opportunity that West Tennessee has never really had. A lot of existing firefighters and volunteer firefighters would benefit.”

Jackson State met with local fire departments to determine the need for the program. Course subjects include fire safety, prevention and investigation; codes and standards; emergency services; and fire behavior and combustion.

Part of Jackson State’s mission is to provide accessible learning opportunities and strengthen the workforce. Another part of its mission is to serve the community.

“This program will allow the college to strengthen the current and future workforce and prepare those students to serve the community in a variety of ways,” Pigg said. “It will prepare students to graduate with demonstrated competence in knowledge of the fire service and leadership roles, skills in the performance of their duties to reduce loss of life and property from fire and other hazards, and behavior reflective of the professionalism and compassion of the fire service.”