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Daphene R. McFerrenDaphene R. McFerren

In January 2008, McFerren became the director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. In June 2006, McFerren was a visiting scholar at the Hooks Institute, where she continued her work, initially funded by a summer grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, to compile primary source materials created by Fayette County civil rights activists from 1959 to approximately the early 1970s.  Additionally, during her time as a visiting scholar, McFerren worked on completing the copyright review process to enable public broadcast of the documentary, Freedom’s Front Line:  Fayette County, TN.  The collection of primary source materials from Fayette County civil rights activists are housed in Special Collections at the University of Memphis and are available to the public. Beginning in September 2008, public television stations in Memphis, and later throughout the State of Tennessee, began broadcasting  Freedom’s Front Line.  McFerren’s parents, John and Viola McFerren, were two of the primary leaders of the Fayette County Movement. In an article dated October 12, 1969, the New York Times called the Fayette County Movement the “longest sustained civil rights protest in the nation.”

Prior to joining the Hooks Institute, McFerren was in private practice in Washington, DC; was senior counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; was counsel to former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; and was later Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland prosecuting, among other cases, forced labor and involuntary servitude cases involving foreign victims. McFerren is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.


Esra_bio_picEsra Ozdenerol, Ph.D.
Associate Director

Esra Ozdenerol is the Associate Director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. She also serves as Associate Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the University of Memphis in addition to her position as Adjunct Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN. Ozdenerol holds a degree in Geography from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, and has been with the University of Memphis since 2003, where she teaches GIS and its applications to health disparities.

In 2009, Ozdenerol was awarded a research grant to create a GIS-mapping website that will disseminate information about pivotal civil rights events and their locations in West Tennessee. The GIS-mapping website will have electronic visualizations, such as animated maps, that allow exploration of recreated landscapes, hyperlinked stories, photographs, and video interviews of those involves in the Civil Rights Movement.


ardellaArdella M. Jeffries
Administrative Associate

Ardella Jeffries is the Administrative Associate of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change. Jeffries received a Bachelor of Professional Studies Degree with a concentration in Health Services Administration from the University of Memphis in 2007. She also received an Associate of Applied Science Degree from Northwest Mississippi Community College. Ardella was formerly an Administrative Assistant in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Memphis in Memphis, TN.



deborahDeborah Hester Harrison
Event Coordinator

Deborah Hester Harrison is the April 2014 Event Coordinator for the Hooks Institute fundraiser, The Civil Rights Movement and its Influence on Music, Fashion, and Self Expression. (Check our website for updates on this event.) She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from the University of Memphis and has spent the majority of her career as a National Bank Examiner in the banking industry. She has also served as the President of Girls Incorporated Memphis, an organization that improves the interpersonal skills of young girls through extracurricular programs and summer camps. Deborah has worked on a variety of community projects, including the Urban Youth Initiative, Seedco, and the Memphis Business Academy. She was recently recognized as one of Memphis Woman Magazine’s “50 Women Who Make a Difference.”

Felecia Photo



Felecia Malone
Graduate Assistant

Felecia Malone began working as a Graduate Assistant with the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change in August 2012. She will be a candidate for a Master of Public Health Degree with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Memphis in 2014. She also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences from Clark Atlanta University.

Nate Ball  

Nathaniel Ball
Graduate Assistant

Nathaniel Ball began working with the Hooks Institute in August 2014. In 2011, he received an undergraduate degree in Film and Video Production from the University of Memphis. Ball will be a candidate for a Masters of History degree from the University of Memphis in 2015. Ball is working with the Hooks Institute Director, Daphene McFerren, on creating a short documentary on the influence of the Civil Rights Movement on Music, Fashion, and Culture.



Cem Akkus 
Graduate Assistant

Cem Akkus is a Research Assistant at the Department of Earth Sciences. He received a Bachelor of Mapping Engineering from Karadeniz Technical University in Trabzon, Turkey and Master's degree of Mapping Engineering with a concentration in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) from Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. He also holds a GIS Certificate from University of Memphis. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Earth Sciences, at the University of Memphis. Cem is a coordinator of the Hooks GIS mapping website for the Civil Rights Movement.


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The Hooks Institute for Social Change | 107 Scates Hall | The University of Memphis | Memphis, TN | 38152-3530 | Phone: 901-678-3974 | Fax: 901-678-0177 | Email:
Last Updated: 2/19/14