What began almost 30 years ago as an effort by an inter-racial group of Jackson leaders to promote racial healing, understanding and cooperation by the year 2000 has made a new for itself on this side of the year 2000. Jackson 2000 is now Dialogue Jackson. When begun there were few venues where black and white residents of Jackson ate, dined, played or danced together without animosity. From its beginning Dialogue Jackson has sought and found ways to bridge the gaps and build relationships in ways to foster positive change in our community. There have been several lynch-pin programs to spotlight positive change through the years. The annual Friendship Ball, a low-key dinner/dance evening first held at Hal & Mal’s and now held at the MS Museum of Art, along with the Friendship Golf Outing were early endeavors to foster social interaction. Throughout the formative years of Jackson 2000 a program known simply as Study Circles sponsored opportunities for dialogue between small groups of whites and blacks to foster understanding of one another’s perspective on common concerns which often reflected ethnic biases. These Study Circles have become Dialogue Circles and are the central program of Dialogue Jackson. Although structured for small inter-racial groups of 8 – 12 persons meeting over the course of six weeks, Dialogue Circles have been structured for groups of up to 80 persons meeting in full day or weekend workshops, for businesses or community organizations and educational institutions. These intense sessions of dedicated, directed dialogue open painted shut windows into the rooms where long seated assumptions and prejudices about the “other” have been hidden and allow the fresh breezes of healing to push out the musty odors of the past.
Although attending a social function such as a dinner or a dance in Jackson which has a healthy mix of black and white faces is no longer an oddity, it is still something to celebrate. For that reason we would invite you to attend this year’s annual Dialogue Jackson Friendship Ball to be held at the Mississippi Museum of Art on April 21st. Tickets can be purchased on line at : http://www.jackson2000.org/friendship_ball