Mission Mississippi leader encourages campus influencers to discuss racial reconciliation efforts

Contact: Allison Matthews

Neddie Winters led discussion at Mississippi State University Jan. 16 with a small group of university administrators and students, as well as faith-based and campus organization leaders who gathered for a racial reconciliation forum. Winters is head of Jackson-based Mission Mississippi, an interdenominational group that promotes racial reconciliation throughout the state. (Photo by Sid Salter)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The president of an interdenominational movement promoting racial reconciliation throughout the state was at Mississippi State University Monday [Jan. 16] when campus and community leaders came together to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

One year ago, Neddie Winters of Jackson-based Mission Mississippi gave a challenging keynote to the MLK Jr. Day Unity Breakfast crowd, but this year, he addressed a much smaller group of leaders who gathered for lunch and discussion of a work-plan during a racial reconciliation forum.

The dialogue included about 25 students, staff and senior administrators, including MSU President Mark E. Keenum and MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt. Affiliated campus organization leaders and faith-based leaders also were involved.

Winters said trust, respect and honesty are keys to effective dialogue that ultimately can help Mississippians pass on a better legacy to the next generation.

“There are issues that we do disagree on,” Winters said. “We can disagree agreeably. We can disagree without being disagreeable and becoming combative and argumentative and all those things that destroy relationships and divide us in certain ways. Mission Mississippi spends a lot of time helping people build relationships.”

Winters said to resolve racial issues, people must be intentional and intense.

“I want to leave a legacy of better race relationships to the next generation,” he said.

“We believe that we can have the discussion even though we disagree, but we can do it in a way that will move the conversation forward,” he explained.

Rasheda Boddie-Forbes, MSU interim assistant vice president of multicultural affairs and director of the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, said bringing campus influencers together for in-depth conversations about race and diversity is an important part of investing in the future.

“We need intimate discussions about diversity and to dig a little deeper to ensure we’re striving to bring about a more inclusive environment,” Forbes said.

For more about Mission Mississippi, visit www.missionmississippi.org.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.