This weekend, there will be events in both Columbus and Starkville to raise awareness of the racial inequality in our nation. We hesitate to call them “protests,” because the word conveys only one aspect of what these events are intended to represent.
They go beyond protest. They are calls for unity and action.
As our nation confronts the growing realization that racism in our nation remains a pervasive poison, that we do not live in a post-racial society, citizens across the nation have gathered in public spaces to express the broad range of emotions that are evoked by disturbing incidents, captured on video, in which black people have been brutalized by law enforcement officers sworn to protect and serve.
Some of these gatherings have descended into chaos and violence, perpetrated by lawless people who have no respect for the legitimate cause these events represent.
Last weekend in Columbus, people gathered at two locations (Leigh Mall and the Municipal Complex) to express their pain and frustration and issue a call to action. There was never a hint of violence. Instead, these gatherings promoted unity, understanding and, yes, love for their fellow man, both black and white.
Only a relatively few white citizens participated in those events.
Yet, there is a growing sentiment among many white citizens that they, too, have some role to play in this fight for racial justice. Social media in the white community is dominated by vows of white citizens that they will not stand on the sidelines any longer, as has so often been the case when our black friends and neighbors have rallied in a public display against racism.
This weekend, then, is a chance for white citizens to turn words into action in a positive, affirming manner — to prove they stand in strength and purpose with the black community in this troubling time.
We urge citizens of all races to attend these events which we are certain will be enlightening and inspiring. We have no reason to doubt these will be peaceful assemblies that reflect what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”
For white citizens, especially, it is an opportunity to listen, to learn and to explore tangible ways they can come alongside their black brothers and sisters in an effort to make our nation whole.
Sunday’s event in Columbus begins at 4 p.m. at the Municipal Complex. Details on Starkville’s Saturday March for Justice have yet to be publicly released.
We hope to see you there.