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Holmes African American Literature students get enhanced teaching

Holmes African American Literature students get enhanced teaching

On October 13, several Holmes Community College Ridgeland Campus students, along with African American Literature Instructor Arnetra Pleas and English Instructor Mary Brantley, had the opportunity to hear Dr. Henry Louis Gates speak at the historic Galloway United Methodist Church in downtown Jackson.

A distinguished African American studies professor, scholar, author, and filmmaker, Dr. Gates spoke as part of the 2015 Medgar Wiley Evers Lecture Series, addressing a full-capacity crowd on the topics of economics, education, and politics.

Dr. Gates serves as the director of the Hutchins Center for African and American Research at Harvard University; is the Emmy-Award winning producer and host of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross; hosts the series Finding Your Roots; is the co-founder of, and author/co-author of 19 books. 

Glenn Hutchins, chairman of the board of SunGard Corp., director of the NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc., and director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, facilitated the discussion. 

Pleas believes that these types of outside classroom learning experiences can be more impactful on students than learning information within the confines of a physical space. 

"Dr. Gates's lecture is an opportunity for my students to witness first-hand the genius of the co-author of our textbook, but it is also a chance for them to see how the world beyond the classroom is an essential part of learning and personal development," Pleas said.

Pleas first met Dr. Gates in 2013 as an NEH Institute Fellow at Harvard University. She notes, "I am extremely grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for its vision and continued support of humanities education, as well as Dr. Gates and the other program facilitators for welcoming me to the then DuBois Institute." 

Through her participation in the summer institute "African American Struggles for Freedom and Civil Rights," she has implemented much of the program's information into her African American Literature class on the Ridgeland Campus. 

"Dr. Gates's work has been such an inspiration to me, and it is my goal is replicate that same interest and enthusiasm in my own students," she said.

Pleas plans to continue offering her students such enrichment opportunities to complement and enhance classroom learning. The recent lecture is only one of several planned activities.

For more information on African American Literature at Holmes Community College, contact Arnetra Pleas at or (601) 605-3424.

IN THE PHOTO: Pictured is (back row) Holmes Community College African American Literature Instructor Arnetra Pleas with (left to right) her students LaShunda Brown, R.J. Hurston, and Genesis Powell.

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Holmes Community College does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, veteran status, or genetic information. Employees, students, applicants for admission or employment, or other participants in Holmes Community College programs or activities who believe they have been discriminated against are entitled to seek relief through the Compliance Officer (662) 472-9429. Written inquiries may be e-mailed to: or sent to: Compliance Office, P.O. Box 369, Goodman, MS 39079.

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