Our view: Dream365 is an opportunity in black AND white

January 14, 2014 10:00:35 AM



Dream365 kicked off its week-long program Monday with a pair of events at the Rosenzweig Arts Center. In the afternoon, representatives from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History held a program detailing progress on the Mississippi Museum of History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which will occupy the same site in Jackson.  


That evening, a reception was held at the center, featured exhibits on loan from the City of Birmingham documenting its role in the Civil Rights movement. Artifacts are included from the1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which claimed the lives of four young black girls and was a defining moment in the Civil Rights movement. The exhibit will remain at the RAC all week, in case you were not able to attend the reception. 


That both events were well attended, dreary weather notwithstanding, signifies a good start to an event that ranks among the most informative and well-conducted the city has each year. 


If you missed Monday's events, there are still plenty of opportunities available. You can find details in the calendar section of The Dispatch each day. 


Each year, Dream365 leaves us with two impressions: First, it is a remarkable series of events. Second, we wish more of our citizens would come out and see for themselves. 


This is especially true for white residents, who may be under the impression that Dream365 is a production "of the black people, by the black people and for the black people." 


That is an unfortunate perspective and one that Dream365 organizers, both black and white, must continue to combat.  


In a city that is often sadly and needlessly divided along racial lines, Dream365 represents an opportunity for all citizens to come together to learn, understand and profit from our shared history. Make no mistake: The Civil Rights movement is "our" history. It is not constrained by race or sex or any other barrier we erect to distinguish one group from another. 


Invariably, there are some among us -- hopefully, fewer and fewer as the years go by -- who consider events commemorating the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., along with February's "Black History Month" observances --to have little value. 


The sad fact remains that both races are often more inclined to talk "about" the other group than talk "to" that group. 


Events such as Dream365, when well attended by both races, give all of us an opportunity to talk with one another. 


Whatever view you may have on the subject of race, events such as Dream365 provide an opportunity to confirm, challenge or sharpen those views. 


The Civil Rights movement isn't a subject that should be confined to the black community.  


To view the Civil Rights movement from a single perspective only is like trying to read black ink on black pages or white ink on white pages. There is no profit in it. 


For that reason, we urge all residents, black and white, to participate in this week's Dream365 events.  


We will all be the better for it.