•Mississippi Civil Rights Museum•

cotton

• Mississippi Civil Rights Museum •

It is July in Mississippi, and for those of you who do not live here, it is already MISERABLY hot (fry an egg on your hood, hot!!)

As the museum staff member opens the door, a gust of cold air welcomes me in

Not knowing what to expect, I hang around the lobby, greeting others coming in. Once I gain my bearings, I head off into the museum

I see cotton, confederate flags, colorful quilts, paintings, shack furnishings, and a church

I meander through, glancing at displays, but not really paying attention. As a white girl from Mississippi, I feel like I am expected to have a certain emotion – guilt

About halfway through the museum, I see a co-worker of mine. I walk up to him, and we immediately start in with Southern cordials: How is work? How is the family? Church going well?

After our polite exchanges, we started our journey through the museum. As we walked side by side through Mississippi’s history, curiosity finally got the best of me

“Have you ever experienced racism?”, I blurted out. Don’t judge me. I mean REALLY, how do you gently start this conversation?!

He stopped, turned directly to me, made eye contact, and said “No. I have never had anyone yell at me, nor have I ever been wrongly accused, nor have I ever been assaulted, just because I am black.”. Our walk resumed

My mind started churning – I wanted to know more!! “Does the museum make you sad? What are your thoughts on interracial relationships? Do you hate the police? What are your thoughts on players kneeling? Does our state flag bother you?”

To be honest, those questions were just the tip of the iceberg. I drilled this poor soul with question, after question, after question

Before I knew it, an hour had flown by. What had I learned from the museum? Nothing new. What had I learned •IN• the museum? EMPATHY

I asked what people could really do. With wisdom in his heart, he said “This. Find a safe person – talk, ask questions, then LISTEN to each other.”

We parted. As I walked down the empty hallway, my mind spinning, I heard the perfect closing:

•Mississippi Fair Housing Declaration•

I AGREE TO-
Learn about those who are different from me, and celebrate those differences.
1968
_____________________________________________

Dear Fellow Mississippian,

We have come so far, but we have further to go

I am a safe person. My beliefs, color and political views may be different from yours, but I promise you, we have something in common

There is no easy way to go into these conversations, so ask what you want, and I will keep my emotions at bay. Let’s talk, listen and LEARN from each other

Love in Christ,
Stephanie

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