Dr. Katheen W. Wickham, professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi, was recently awarded the Ronald T. and Gayla F. Farrar Award in Media and Civil Rights History for “the best civil rights research article published in an academic journal over a two-year period.”
A quest to learn more about American filmmaker Henry Hampton, who produced and directed the legendary civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize, led Dr. Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism, to explore the Hampton archives at Washington University-St. Louis.
The quest resulted in Wickham receiving the Ronald T. and Gayla F. Farrar Award in Media and Civil Rights History March 30 for “the best civil rights research article published in an academic journal over a two-year period.”
The award was presented by the College of Information and Mass Media at the University of South Carolina during the USC Media and Civil Rights Symposium March 31.
Dr. Wickham’s article, “The Magnifying Effect of Television News: Civil Rights Coverage and Eyes on the Prize,” was published in Journalism History in 2020, but the announcement of the award was delayed due to covid. Her article explored the relationship between the media and the civil rights movement using primary source documents and audio tapes found in the Hampton archives. Wickham was granted a 2013 research fellowship by Washington University to explore the archives. The documentary, which aired on public television in 1987, consisted of 14 parts, covering the movement from 1954 through 1985.
Wickham, who teaches a course titled Press and the South, utilizes the series in class to prepare students to analyze media coverage of the civil rights movement.
Wickham also presented a paper at the 2023 USC conference: Different audiences, different coverage: The 1962 integration of the University of Mississippi as portrayed in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger and four Black newspapers was based on research conducted by students enrolled in her Fall 2022 class. The student authors included Caroline Cristler, Jenell Davis, Sara Moore and Camyrn Rios.
Earlier in the month, a paper by a group of students from the same class, Newspaper Coverage of James Meredith’s integration of the University of Mississippi: A comparison of three Black newspapers with the New York Times, was presented at the Southeast Colloquium. Those student authors were: Ann Marie DeFrank, Katelyn Kimberlin and Brittany Kohne.
Wickham has received a 2023 research grant from Kappa Tau Alpha, the national journalism honor society, to continued her media research related to civil rights coverage of pivotal events.
Ronald Farrar served as chair of the University of Mississippi (then) Department of Journalism from 1973 to 1977 before moving on to other academic posts. Farrar authored Powerhouse, a history of journalism at the University of Mississippi published in 2014 by Yoknapatawpha Press.