Project Description

Oxford to the Ballot Box 

 

May 2020 Proposal

 

 

EVERY four years the U.S. Presidential elections, from the early primaries in Iowa to the Inauguration offer an important opportunity for engagement in the country’s democratic process. 
 

As the world and our nation navigate the unchartered waters of dual pandemics, multimedia documentary producers Jon Winet and Allen Spore are developing “Oxford to the Ballot Box - The 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections” with a broad range of Oxford Mississippi stakeholders - from permanent residents to University of Mississippi students and faculty, creating a dynamic community engagement project with significant “shelter-in-place-friendly” online public digital elements at its center. The project is hosted by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC).
 

It is our goal that the project encourage thoughtful, civic discussion about the election and democracy, reflecting on the vital issues for our country and this election – from participation in voting by young people and women to the history of voter suppression, to race, health care and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic  – while providing an opportunity for a broad and diverse range of people in the Oxford and University communities to voice their ideas and creative expression, capitalizing on the affordances of digital and online tools.
 

With the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the change to a new Mississippi flag, and economic uncertainties, the project takes place in a challenging landscape and a “now more than ever moment."  We see this as an opportunity for meaningful dialog, and an even greater community focus and collaboration, an as individuals, families and organizations pull together to get through this time.
 

Program elements include:
 

  • Public programs (roundtables, talks and screenings) and satellite displays.
     

  • With the uncertainty of the future, we plan to make our public programs flexible with the possibility of having them both online and live, the latter dependent on public health directives. We will conduct ongoing planning sessions to determine best practices in the “New Normal.”
     

  • Roundtables, lectures and panels at the Power House and on the University of Mississippi and/or on line featuring civic leaders and election stakeholders, Confirmed programs include
     

    •  

      Monday September 28 7:30 PM "Voting Matters'  Drive-in Media Screening - Click here for call for participation.

      September Date TBA 
       
    • Secretary of State Michael Watson [https://www.sos.ms.gov/About/Pages/Executive.aspx] will speak to  one of Professor and project Advisory Board member Sue Ann Skipworth’s college classes about election issues. We will provide a link to his remarks
       

    • “Voting Matters” 
      A talk and Q&A by Political Science Professor Marvin P. King, Jr. -   on the history of voting in Mississippi, and on voter suppression and the impact of race on the state’s politics, and efforts to ensure widespread voter participation, as well as reflections on the current extraordinary moment in American history and society.(date TBA)
       

    • a panel comprised of students to discuss voter participation, and/or the lack thereof, coordinated by professor Skipworth. [subject to confirmation | date TBA]

  • Educational Programs We are working with University of Mississippi Writing & Rhetoric Department professor Don Unger and Political Science professor Sue Ann Skipworth on curriculum design of  components that actively engage students in research and documentation of the election process and linked social issues, creating public multimedia, multimodal projects on campus, and in Oxford and northern Mississippi using text, photography, video and audio– focusing on the election and social issues as part of the fall 2020 curriculum of their classes.

  • A dynamic website and social media (e.g. Facebook Twitter, TikTok and Instagram) featuring original content - commentary, photography, other media, along with video and audio interviews from the project by community members, students as well as relevant material harvested from the Internet. Community participation is key to the success of these and all elements of the project. Working with our partners at the Arts Council and University, we will actively reach out to Oxford’s diverse communities to invite their input and engagement. In the Time of Covid-19 we anticipate this to be a combination of electronic and in-person conversations.

 

  • An exhibit at the Power House, centrally located in Oxford, featuring photography, video and electronic displays. The project leads, Jon Winet and Allen Spore, and local Advisory Board members will coordinate with community residents and UM students and faculty to invite the contribution of texts, photography, and video be displayed on large high definition displays. We plan to encourage contributors to create an image of Oxford, their families and neighbors, neighborhoods and civic spaces, campaign and issue-driven events and headquarters, all against the backdrop of the national election. 

  • During the project (projected for mid-September to mid-October), we will invite community members, political activists, Republican and Democratic Party volunteers and operatives to community forums and discussions of the issues. When unobtrusive and appropriate we will conduct interviews as well.

 

  • During the  fall, we continue to design initiatives to engage and involve participants. Anticipated audience and participants include YAC attendees and supporters; UM students, faculty; issues advocates, the Republican and Democratic political parties; local political activists; library patrons and civic organizations.



This project is made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication) (program) (exhibition) (website) do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Mississippi Humanities Council.

 

 

• • • 

 

Comments and questions welcome.
Contact oxfordtotheballotbox@gmail.com

 

 

rev. 09.12.2020  11:15 CDT