Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Mississippi-based Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation garnering national attention

The Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, formed in 1999 at the University of Mississippi to work in communities and classrooms to support racial equity, has recently been called on to help with healing on a national level, in the wake of racially motivated incidents, such as the shooting of an African American by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.—which led to rioting—and the murders of nine African Americans at a historic church in Charleston, S.C., and the arrest of a white suspect with ties to hate groups, writes Christopher Schultz, director of development and communications for the institute.

"Through a series of discussion circles and retreats, the Winter Institute’s Welcome Table helps community stakeholders 'build bridges of trust to hold the weight of the truths they must tell one another,'" Schultz writes. "People develop trust and work together with open hearts to effect lasting change in their communities. Word is spreading: The program works with 18 partner communities, and recent demand nearly exceeds the Winter Institute’s capacity."

The Welcome Table has been getting national attention, especially in stories involving President Obama's response to racially-motivated shootings and the controversy over the Confederate flag, Schultz writes. The institute was mentioned two times in The Washington Post, once on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe" and NPR's "On Point" and also in Salon.

"Momentum is growing toward change, which begins locally, person-to-person, in communities where trust has frayed as separation has grown," Schultz writes. "The Winter Institute’s Welcome Table is being recognized as a useful tool in helping communities beyond Mississippi heal and pursue equity." (Read more)

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