** Early bird deadline ($50) has been extended through August 31. Registration will increase to $75 on September 1.

Sponsored by Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University Libraries, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Shackouls Honors College, College of Arts and Sciences, African American Studies Program, Political Science Department, Office of Public Affairs, Mississippi State University; Mississippi Department of Archives and History, University Press of Mississippi, National Park Service (Shiloh and Vicksburg National Military Parks); Office of the Mayor, Starkville, MS.

Ulysses S. Grant, during whose administration the 15th Amendment became part of the Constitution (1870), called the ratification of this amendment “the most important event that has occurred, since the nation came to life.” Lyndon Johnson said the Voting Rights Act (1965) was “a triumph of freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield.”

How was the nation twice able to add such significant legal protections into American law? Why was it then so difficult to ensure rights that had been apparently guaranteed?

This Symposium will begin with onsite registration on the second floor of the Colvard Student Union from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. During this same period, tours will be conducted of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, the Templeton Music Museum, and the John Grisham Room, all in the Mitchell Memorial Library. An opening reception will take place in the Student Union at 6:00 PM as will a dinner at 7:00 PM.

Thursday, September 24, 2015, from 10:00 AM throughout the day, panels and discussions will take place in the MSU Shackouls Honors College, Griffis Hall. An informal cash bar at a Starkville establishment will complete the day. On Friday, September 25, programing will begin at 10:00 AM and end with a 6:00 PM reception in the Hunter Henry Center and a 7:00 PM dinner in the same venue.

The two evening dinners will feature invited speakers. There will also be six panels which will include prepared papers and discussions. A featured panel from 10:00 AM to Noon, on Thursday September 24, 2015, will include a discussion on the topic of the symposium among Mississippi Chief Justice William Waller, retired Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Fred Banks, and Rhode Island Chief Justice (ret) Frank J. Williams. The moderator will be former Mississippi Governor William Winter, a member of President Bill Clinton’s Civil Rights Commission.

One-page proposals for individual papers, two-page proposals for complete panels, and vitae of the participants may be sent to Dr. Chris Snyder, Dean, Shackouls Honors College, P.O. Box EH, Mississippi State, MS 39762 no later than April 1, 2015. Announcements of the successful proposals will be sent to the selected speakers and announced on, no later than June 1, 2015.

The cost of registration is $50 until August 31, 2015, $75 from September 1 to September 15, 2015, and $100 from September 16 through onsite registration on September 23. (MSU undergraduate and graduate students must register to attend the opening reception and panels at no cost.) Wednesday evening dinner will cost $30 and Friday evening dinner will be $40. Registration, including payment, may be completed online or by check made out to the Ulysses S. Grant Association, P.0. Box 5408, Mississippi State, MS 39762.

A block of rooms at $90 plus tax per evening has been reserved at the Starkville Hampton Inn, Highway 12 and Spring Street, Starkville. For the special rate, call directly to the Starkville hotel at 1-662-324-1333 and mention the “Fifteenth Amendment Symposium.”

For more information, email John F. Marszalek or Meg Henderson, or call 662-325-4552.

Download Symposium Agenda

(PDF reader required)

Registration Information

Registration Fees:

  • $50 until August 31, 2015
  • $75 September 1 – September 15, 2015
  • $100 September 16 – onsite registration on September 23

For more information, visit, or contact John F. Marszalek at 662-325-4552 or