2024 Events

Now Accepting Submissions Until August 30th!

The Frances Dancy Hooks Social Change Art Award 

A woman with African features but blue skin wearing an elaborate turban and jewelry looks pensively to the left.  She is surrounded by colorful butterflies.

The Theme: The Beauty of Change

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis invites submissions of visual-based artwork(s) from Memphis-area artists on the theme of The Beauty of Change.  Change is all around us and can often require intense struggle and sacrifice, but it can also be a space of transcendent beauty and inspiration.  This award and exhibit celebrates the unique power of artists to capture and share that aspect of social change.

The Prize:

$400 prize money and the Frances Dancy Hooks Social Change Art Award

The Exhibit:

Ten to fifteen (10-15) works will be chosen for the final exhibition in the gallery area of the new Hooks Institute offices in Wilder Tower on the Main Campus of the University of Memphis.   The Institute will be hosting multiple public events specifically to showcase the exhibit and feature each piece. 

Acceptable Piece Specifications:

  • Pieces may be flat or dimensional.
  • Pieces must be tangible, no digital works are accepted at this time.
  • All flat pieces, to be wall-mounted, must weigh 10 pounds or less (including frames, appendages, etc.).
  • All dimensional pieces, to be displayed on a plinth must weigh less than 20 pounds (including appendages, etc.).
  • Pieces may be no larger than 4 ft. x 4ft. x 4 ft.
  • Gallery space contains abundant natural light. If piece requires specific lighting needs, please identify.
  • Flat pieces will be installed on sheetrock walls, dimensional pieces will be provided plain white plinths.

The Award Committee:

Finalists and the ultimate award winner will be chosen by a diverse committee of specialists and experts in the fields of arts and culture and social change, including members of the Hooks Institute Staff, the University of Memphis College of Communications and Fine Arts, and members of the Memphis art community.    

To Apply:

Artists can submit up to 2 pieces, which may be flat or dimensional.  Submissions must be made through our digital portal (link below) and can include no more than 3 images of the piece, one of which must be a front-facing image of the full piece.  Accepted file types are jpg or png. Please no files larger than 5 MB.  The portal submission form also includes space for a title, piece specifications, and a brief artist statement of 500 words or less.  To be eligible, artists must be from the Greater Memphis Area and over the age of 18.  There is no submission fee.

To apply visit:


Past Events


Brown v. Board of Education: 70 Years Later, Where Will Memphis and the Nation Go Next?

Students of varying ages climb the steps of the US Supreme Court

On April 11, 2024, the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change will host a conference to examine the legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education (1954). In one of the most important decisions in the nation’s history, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the separate but equal doctrine that had been the law of the land violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by relegating African American children to second-class citizenship by forcing them to attend segregated schools.

While this decision had a profound impact on helping to eradicate discrimination in all spheres of American life, this conference will examine the impact of the Brown decision on creating equity in education for marginalized groups in Memphis and America Today. 

The conference will be held Thurs. April 11, 2024, starting at 10 am in the University Center on the University of Memphis campus. The Hon. Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Educationwill deliver a plenary address and Tona Boyd, Associate Director-Counsel of the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP (New York) will deliver the keynote address.

A panel of professionals in education, law, and policy will discuss the current state of the quest for racial justice and educational equity. Additionally, a special panel of youth representatives and future professionals will give voice to contemporary experiences of diversity in schooling, racial and educational justice.

This conference is designed to appeal to the legal and education community as well as policymakers and students.


February 27

Hooks National Book Award Presentation and Guest Lecture 

A poster depicting the cover of the book "Black Patience" and its author, Dr. Julius B. Fleming, Jr.

Hattiloo Theatre

37 S Cooper Street, Memphis, TN 38104 

Thursday, February 27, 2024 | 6pm

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis will celebrate the 2022 Hooks National Book Award winner, Dr. Julius B. Fleming Jr. and his book “Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation” at a ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 27. The event will include a presentation of the award as well as a lecture by Fleming.
Hattiloo Theatre is the Presenting Sponsor for the event. It is Co-Sponsored by Carla and Holmes Peacher-Ryan. The following University of Memphis entities are Partnering Co-Sponsors: African and African American Studies Program, the Department of English, the Department of History, the Department of Theatre & Dance and the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.
This event is free and open to the public.


April 18

2023 Hooks Institute Donor Appreciation Reception

Mission Possible Image

Maxine A. Smith University CenterUniversity of Memphis
499 University StreetMemphis, TN 38152. 

April 18, 2023 | 6 pm

A reception was hosted by the Hooks advisory board and staff and University of Memphis students enrolled in Hooks Institute programs  for academic, personal, and professional success. Guests enjoyed food, music and entertaining presentations on how the work of the Hooks Institute impacts the lives of those seeking to realize their own potential and that of their communities.

Donor and Friends Reception Website >

Kristen ClarkeApril 3

Community Conversation with Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke from the U.S. Department of Justice

University of Memphis, Maxine A. Smith University Center, University Center Theater

499 University Street, Memphis, TN 38152. 

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis hosted a community conversation on April 3 at 6 PM with Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke from the U.S. Department of Justice at the University Center Theatre at the University of Memphis. Clarke's work includes upholding civil and constitutional rights for all Americans, addressing hate crimes, voting rights, police department policies, and discrimination in employment and LGBTQIA+ rights. 

February 28

DRM HeadshotDaphene McFerren, Keynote Adress to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Hooks Institute Executive Director R. Daphene McFerren provided virtual keynote addresses to attorneys at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (Washington, D.C.).




February 25

Our Portion of Hell Book CoverBook Signing with Robert Hamburger, Author of Our Portion of Hell: Fayette County, Tennessee: An Oral History of the Struggle for Civil Rights

Location & Time

Sat., Feb. 25, 2 PM
Fayette County Public Schools Central Administration Building 10425 Hwy 76 S. Somerville, TN, 38068

About the Event

Book Signing with Robert Hamburger and Presentations from Robert Hamburger and Daphene McFerren, Hooks Institute executive director and daughter of Fayette County Civil Rights Activists John and Viola McFerren, will speak at the event.

Activists from the Fayette County Civil Rights Movement will also attend.

About Our Portion of Hell: Fayette County, Tennessee: An Oral History of the Struggle for Civil Rights

Recently released by the University of Mississippi Press for its second edition, Our Portion of Hell: Fayette County, Tennessee: An Oral History of the Struggle for Civil Rights offers an unrivalled account of how the rural Black community of Fayette County, Tennessee drew together to combat the immense forces aligned against them in the late 1950s-1970s. Author Robert Hamburger first visited Fayette County as part of a student civil rights project in 1965 and, in 1971, set out to document the history of the grassroots movement there.

Visit the event page through the button below for more information! 

Our Portion of Hell Book Signing Facebook Event Page>

February 23

TN ResolutionTennessee General Assembly Honors Fayette County Activists and the University of Memphis Hooks Institute with Resolution

The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed a resolution to honor the activists from the Fayette County Movement and the documentary, website and exhibitions created by the University of Memphis Hooks Institute to preserve and analyze the history of this movement. 

Senator Lamar London (Dist. 33, Shelby Co.) and Senator Page Walley (Dist. 26, includes Fayette Co.) sponsored the resolution. Before the General Assembly voted on the Resolution, Hooks Institute Executive Director Daphene R. McFerren made brief remarks on the critical importance of preserving this historical work to help ensure equity and social justice for future generations. Her remarks received a standing ovation from the General Assembly. 

The Hooks Institute extends its sincere gratitude to Senators Lamar and Walley for introducing the resolution, and to the Tennessee General Assembly for passing the resolution without opposition. 

The text of the resolution can be read here: capitol.tn.gov/Bills/113/Bill/SR0033.pdf.

February 21

DRM HeadshotDaphene McFerren Keynote Address at the U.S. Department of Justice

Hooks Institute Executive Director R. Daphene McFerren provided virtual keynote addresses to attorneys and staff from the U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C. and regional offices) on how the history of the nation and Memphis continues to shape contemporary racial, economic and other disparities of today.



February 4

Ida B. Wells Barnett PhotoScreening of "Facing Down Storms: Memphis and the Making of Ida B. Wells" at the Literature is Liberating Festival, Crosstown Concourse

Sat. Feb. 4 | 1:30 pm, Crosstown Concourse Theater

A screening of the Hooks Institute's documentary film on Ida B. Wells, "Facing Down Storms: Memphis and the Making of Ida B. Wells" at Crosstown as part of the Crosstown Arts Liturature is Liberating Festival. Daphene McFerren spoke on the legacy of Ida B. Wells and the making of the documentary.


February 3

Woman with an Afro at Wattstax musiv festival.Screening of Hooks Documentaries at Trezevant Manor

Fri. Feb. 3 | Trezevant Manor, Memphis

Screening of Hooks Institute Documentaries "The Civil Rights Movement: A Cultural Revolution" and " Reflections of Maxine Smith  | Martin Luther King Jr's College Years and Assassination" as part of Trezevant Manor's African American History Month celebrations"