Winters: We must change next generation
Adults need to do a better job raising the next generation to end racism by changing the systems that allow society to continue promoting it.
“I want to help us get beyond the rhetoric,” Neddie Winters, Mission Mississippi president, told the more than 200 people attending Warren County’s 31st Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration.
Basing his comments on a passage from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech: “I have a dream that my four little children may one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” and drawing from scripture, Winters told members of the audience they needed to work with younger people to improve race relations.
“Young lives matter to change a generation; all lives matter to change a generation,” he said. “I challenge you to act to change the next generation so that we can leave a better legacy of race relations so we can deal with other issues other than race. Enlist them, engage them, equip them and empower them to live a life greater than what we live in.
“Ever since I’ve been old enough to recognize I’m a human being and live, I’ve been dealing with race,” he said. “It is my desire, my dream to see a better legacy of race relations. We’ve been dealing with this thing of race for too long. We are still dealing with 50-something years of race.”
Winters said he looks at other communities and their problems with race, adding there is no excuse for people not to improve.
“I believe we’re passing on the burden and the bondage of racism and racial strife and racial hatred and racial division and racial prejudice because we’re not doing anything intentionally not to pass it on,” he said.
“There’s a lot of unintended passing on that we don’t intend to pass on, but it gets passed on, because we’re not doing anything intentionally not to pass it on.”
He called on people to reconcile the racial problems by changing the systems that promote it.
He said Mission Mississippi, an organization composed of a group of ministers from multiple churches across Mississippi working to cross racial and gender barriers and show God’s grace is challenging Christians to show their faith.
“We’re calling Christians out to live out the life they confess and profess to be,” he said. “When you become a Christian, you change.”
He urged people to look past the racists as they work toward reconciliation and improve relations.
“Racists usually identify themselves clearly,” Winter said.
“The racists aren’t the problem; our problem is us, because we’re either silent, or we’re standing still or we’re doing nothing or we’re on the wrong side of the issue.
“We have a responsibility to dismantle the structure of the system and stop the racism,” he said.
“We have to dismantle a lot of stuff. Stop getting out your flashlight and your magnifying glass looking for the racist, because the system is the problem, and we’re part of the system, and we’re prolonging and perpetuating the very system we’re tying to dismantle.”
He pointed out there were two people trying to change the system — the revolutionary and the reconciler.
“A revolutionary says the word is in trouble; it’s in bad shape. It needs to be fixed, and I’m gong to work to fix it. If you get in my way, I will kill you, because I must do what I have to do,” he said.
The reconciler says, ‘The world is in bad shape; it must be changed, not fixed. I’m going to work for change. If can’t help me and try to block me, I’m willing to lay down my life for this cause.
“Our hero today is Dr. Martin Luther King. He was a reconciler. He laid down his life for the cause.”