We are grateful to MPB’s Karen Brown for moderating a panel at the National Day of Racial Healing event.
Hundreds participated in the event held at the Two Museums event in downtown Jackson.
Karen moderated a panel that included Rhea Williams-Bishop, director of Mississippi and Louisiana programs of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; and Otis Pickett, professor of history at Mississippi College. Also on the panel was Mitch Landrieu, former mayor of New Orleans and founder of E Pluribus Unum.
Williams-Bishop and Pickett agreed that Mississippians can get past the hurdles of talking about racial healing.
The first step is finding common ground between black and white Mississippians, Williams-Bishop said. “The second point is acknowledging the truth of past wrongs, and then working to build authentic relationships and understanding.”
Those are the foundational steps for talking about racial issues, she said. “Until we get to more truth-telling, more confronting a lot of the trauma that has transpired over the years for black, white people and native people. We won’t get to healing, we can’t get to healing.”
Though distrust from both sides can be a challenge, Pickett said those hurdles can be overcome by doing something as simple as inviting someone to the Civil Rights Museum to discuss the state’s history.
“Do it in a way where you’re not putting someone on the defensive, where they feel open and safe with you,” Pickett advised. “If we really want to see hearts change, I think sitting down with folks and being willing to walk through that record with them is good.”