/Delta State Talks on race the right thing to do in this day, time

Delta State Talks on race the right thing to do in this day, time

Nonprofit Mississippi News CLEVELAND — David Dennis grew up fighting for freedom. He was raised fighting for survival. “Lynchings, beatings were a regular occurrence… that was the environment in which I grew up.” He said that he was taught to fear white people from a young age. He rose to prominence as a civil rights leader despite that. He made friends with Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and others along the way. He spoke Monday at Delta State University’s Winning the Race Conference. This conference aims to discuss how race impacts everyday life. It’s important that the discussion about an issue such as race be held at Delta State University, in a safe space like a campus, where everyone can have an open and honest conversation that’s not mediated. It’s not for everyone. Although it is awkward and they might prefer that we don’t do it, it’s the right thing to do at this time and place,” stated President William LaForge who was responsible for the conference’s creation. The conference spans three days and includes discussions on education, community, economic opportunities and social justice. Dennis Powell, a writer and speaker, was the keynote speaker this year. Dennis talked about the civil rights movement’s ability to bring together different classes, its successes and failures, as well as how they brought them together. He also recalled the historic eulogy that he gave to James Chaney, a civil rights activist who was murdered. It is still etched in his mind. He spoke out about the current activism for gun control. When his hip began to fail, he pulled up another chair and continued to talk. His audience was engaged until the end. “This conference should highlight the importance of the history and its relevance to today. For activists to understand what they should do, and to apply the lessons from the civil rights movement of the 60s to today’s efforts to achieve equality, it is important to look back at the history of the movement. Because what you see here is a surge in terms of equality and social justice. After his talk, Dennis stated that the goal of his conference was to help people become more active in making changes and pushing forward. Chuck Westmoreland was co-chair of this conference. Although forced segregation was made illegal by the civil rights movement, there are still significant equity gaps between races and classes. Westmoreland stated that Jim Crow was ended by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and any subsequent changes. However, there are still large racial disparities in education and access to health care. The criminal justice system is not equal for all. “Our hope is to get people in here, and get people together for these discussions.” _x000D