By CHERIL VERNON
Messenger Copy Editor
CROCKETT — Dr. Angela Ards, noted author, journalist and an associate professor of English at Southern Methodist University, will be the guest speaker for the 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee’s program on Sunday, Jan. 15 in Crockett.
The program will start at 3 p.m. at the Crockett ISD Administrative Office Building Auditorium.
“This Sunday, January 15, is the actual birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and this will be our 39th year to celebrate his legacy,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee Chair Roberta Mason said Thursday. “In the last decade, we have tried to bring in speakers who have roots to the Crockett area. This year we have Dr. Angela Ards, who is the niece of community leader Cather Ards Woods and Donald Ards from the Simon Springs community. She also is the daughter of the late N.A. Ards and granddaughter of the late Nealy and Florida Ards.”
Mason said the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Committee has a tradition of bringing in “outstanding speakers” for the annual programs. Speakers over the years have included a Houston chief of police, a U.S. Congress woman and a Criminal Court of Appeals state judge.
“This is our way to recognize our heroes. Dr. Martin Luther King is an American hero. Dr. King is the only person in our history who has a national holiday that wasn’t a president,” Mason said. “He was the youngest person to win a Nobel prize for peace. Even today we hear his “‘I Have a Dream’ speech on the lips of others.”
King’s many accomplishments can still be felt today, Mason said.
“He gave his life for civil rights. Many of the things he fought for were accomplished. But there are so many other things that need to be accomplished. It’s up to this generation to accomplish those dreams. We need to be reminded how far we have come and how far we can go,” Mason told the Messenger-News. “We have to make sure, for example, that we are not losing our rights, like our voting rights. We need to get up and find an area where we want to work on and try to accomplish those goals.”
About the Speaker
Ards attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a John Motley Morehead Scholar, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She received her Master of Arts degree in African American Studies from UCLA and her Ph.D. in English from Princeton University.
Her first book, “Words of Witness: Contemporary Black Women’s Autobiography in the Post-Brown Era” (University of Wisconsin Press, 2015), examines how writers use the traditional civil rights movement narrative to craft life stories that engage political thought and participate within black women’s intellectual traditions.
Ards has shared her expertise in African American literature and culture, creative non-fiction, and current affairs in an array of settings ranging from universities, high schools and community forums, to professional associations and corporations.
Ards also is a writer and journalist. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in Time, the Nation, the Village Voice, Essence, Ms., the Crisis, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review. She has also been widely anthologized, with chapters in That’s the Joint! The Hip Hop Studies Reader (Routledge, 2004); Burning All Illusions: Writing from The Nation on Race, 1866-2002, (Nation Books, 2002); Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature (John Wiley & Sons, 2000); Still Lifting, Still Climbing: Contemporary African American Women’s Activism (New York University Press, 1999), among others.
Ards’ work has been supported with fellowships and awards from a number of institutions, including Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute (now Hutchins Center) for African and African American Research; Columbia University’s Charles H. Revson Foundation; Princeton University’s Preyer Fellowship for English Literature and Center for the Study of Religion; Southern Methodist University’s Research Council; Hedgebrook; and Blue Mountain Center.
Ards is currently completing “Homesteading: Black Regional Identity in the Global South,” which uses oral histories to chronicle the lives of Black southerners who bypassed the Great Migration to remain and build communities in the South.
“Other political, educators, clergy and youth will be participating,” Mason said. “Megan Tryon from Grapeland will sing.”
Following the program, a reception will be held for the public to meet the guest speaker. The Ards family will have some of Ards’ work on display in the lobby.
“The Memorial Committee will have previous programs from the past three decades set up in a historical display,” Mason said.