Mississippians Work Towards Racial Healing

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Mississippians Work Towards Racial Healing
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Panel on Racial Healing
Kobee Vance

Hundreds of Mississippians have come together to talk about racial healing. MPB's Kobee Vance reports on how experts want to kick-start difficult conversations about the issue.

A panel of four experts say there are ways to get beyond the challenges of talking about racial healing.
Rhea Williams-Bishop is with the WK Kellogg Foundation. She says the first step in the healing process is finding the common ground between black and white Mississippians.

"The second point is acknowledging the truth of past wrongs, and then working to build authentic relationships and understanding."

Williams-Bishop says these key steps are the foundation for discussing racial issues.

"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."

Other panel members say distrust on both sides can be difficult to work through. Otis Pickett is a Professor of History at Mississippi College. He says breaking down those walls can be as easy as inviting someone to the Civil Rights Museum to talk about 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. 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."

Tuesday was the 4th Annual National Day of Racial Healing. Organizers say it's a day to help Mississippians discuss race relations and the challenges of reconciliation.