THE E PLURIBUS UNUM TEAM HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO VISIT JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI FOR A COMMUNITY VISIT LAST MONTH.
As we travel, we’re listening to and learning from leaders in cities across the South about what separates us now in our communities and what unites us as Americans.
Following Northwest Arkansas and Charlotte, North Carolina, we continued our travels across the south stopping in Jackson, Mississippi —a city similarly rooted in and connected to its racial history, having recently opened the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
Jackson and its neighboring towns have become increasingly segregated over the past two decades, and residents spoke about the ways in which this division has created sharp inequities in the school system, housing, and public transportation.
Still, we heard frequently about the resiliency of the Jackson community and its enduring commitment to creating a more equitable and vibrant city for all. In recent years, Jackson has seen an important change in its leadership. Last year, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba was elected to office, a seat his father held for less than a year in 2013 and 2014. Mayor Lumumba wants Jackson to serve as a model other cities look towards for economic development and for social change.
We rounded out our fall travel this month with a series of focus groups in Columbus, Georgia.
In the new year, we will continue to convene community leaders to listen and learn, and we will try to bring people of different races and backgrounds together around our shared values. Our work in 2019 will be distinguished by more individual and in-depth engagement of populations, including those in rural areas and those who may be less inclined to speak readily on these complex issues.
If we are able to work through the discussions of race and class and bring diverse groups of people together around a common purpose, with shared responsibility and equal opportunity, we can then begin moving our communities forward together.