Annual Journey of Hope welcomes actress to speak on domestic violence

By Joe Lee
JACKSON – Raised Catholic just minutes from The Bronx borough of New York City, actress Robin Givens can look back with pride on a television and film career which began with a successful audition for a guest role on “The Cosby Show.” A year later she landed the role of Darlene Merriman on the ABC smash “Head of the Class” and was a cast member for the show’s 1986-1991 duration.
Unfortunately, Givens might be just as well known for her brief and turbulent marriage to then-world heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson. In an explosive 1988 interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters shortly before she and Tyson separated, Givens leveled charges of domestic abuse against her husband.

Today, Givens speaks out about the abuse she suffered, urging men, women and the African American community to educate themselves about domestic violence. She’s the keynote speaker at this year’s Journey of Hope luncheon, the largest annual fundraiser put on by Catholic Charities and an event that will take place earlier this fall than usual.

“The luncheon was moved to Aug. 11 because we want to have the event on a Friday,” said Marsha Burton, Senior Engagement and Major Gifts Officer for Catholic Charities. “We Mississippians love football, and Fridays in September are prime football days. The Hilton Jackson was available for the date and offers us a larger space with amenities conducive for celebrity speakers.

“We feel that having the entire event at one location will reduce travel for our speaker, attract a large audience through being centrally located and parking should not be an issue.”

In addition to the luncheon, Givens will appear at a reception the evening before from 6-8 p.m., which will allow attendees to meet her in a relaxed environment. The reception will also take place at the Hilton, located at 1001 E. County Line Road in Jackson.

“Robin Givens is a women’s advocate and outspoken crusader against domestic violence,” said Wanda Thomas, executive director of Catholic Charities. “She also speaks on the reality of domestic violence occurring to men as well as women, and how socioeconomic status doesn’t play a role. She’s a woman that can move and inspire all walks of life.”

To order tickets for the Journey of Hope luncheon, the reception, or to inquire about sponsoring tables, call (601) 326-3714 or visit to register for the luncheon.