Join Us Virtually on January 19th for the National Day of Racial Healing

The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation will host a virtual day of discussions and artistic performances for the fifth annual National Day of Racial Healing on January 19. Participants are invited to register for a Zoom link to join for any or all of the events.

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Along with three conversations that explore different facets of racial healing, the program will include a first-time awards ceremony for Mississippi trailblazers in community building, the announcement of a new contest for young artists and performances by New Stage Theatre. The Winter Institute is hosting the day of virtual events in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, sponsored by the Maddox Foundation and HOPE Enterprise Corporation, and with support from New Stage Theatre.

The purpose of the National Day of Racial Healing, which takes place on the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is to bridge racial divides to transform our communities for our children and future generations. The Mississippi-based event is one of more than 40 happening around the country on Jan. 19, hosted by nonprofit organizations, libraries and community groups in locations including Los Angeles, New Orleans, Detroit and Washington, D.C.

“The events of the past year have shone a spotlight on the systemic racism and deep divisions within communities,” said Portia Ballard Espy, executive director of The Winter Institute. “Racial healing starts with trust, relationship building and education, which leads to collective action in order to achieve more healthy and equitable communities. Through our work in the areas of community and capacity building, youth engagement, and policy and civic engagement, we encourage this important process of healing. We encourage all members of the community to join us for this event to be educated about this work taking place here in our state.”

Scheduled Program for The Winter Institute’s National Day of Racial Healing

9:00 am – 10:30 am: “A Conversation with Caroline Randall Williams”

Facilitated by April L. Grayson, Director of Community & Capacity Building, Winter Institute

Caroline Randall Williams will speak to a more inclusive view of who is Southern and how to wrestle with Lost Cause symbols and ideologies. She is an award-winning poet, scholar, activist and Writer-in-Residence of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University. A graduate of Harvard University, Ms. Williams received her MFA in poetry from the University of Mississippi and taught public school in Sunflower County, Mississippi, for two years.

10:30 am – 10:45 am: Community Commitment Award

Presented by April Grayson to community activist Lydia Koltai

10:45 am – 11:00 am: Edutainment

New Stage Theatre, Jackson, MS 

11:00 am – 12:30 pm: “The Struggle Is Still Real”

Facilitated by Von E. Gordon, Youth Engagement Manager, Winter Institute

A conversation with leaders, activists, storytellers and listeners about how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted all young Mississippians. This session will seek to provide a deep and multidimensional image of how race, systemic racism and the legacy of oppression shape the distribution of hardships.

12:30 pm – 12:45 pm: Community Commitment Award

Presented by Von Gordon to members of the MS Flag Commission

12:45 pm – 1:00 pm: Edutainment

New Stage Theatre, Jackson, MS

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm: “Now That Mississippi’s Flag Has Changed, Will Anything Else?

Facilitated by Jake McGraw, Policy & Civic Engagement Lead, Winter Institute

This discussion will explore the questions: What lessons does the flag removal provide for creating policy change in Mississippi? How can these lessons be applied to lead the state further toward racial equity and healing?

2:30 pm – 2:40 pm: Community Commitment Award

Presented by Jake McGraw to the youth organizers of Black Lives Matter Mississippi

 2:40 pm – 2:50 pm: Edutainment

New Stage Theatre, Jackson, MS

2:50 pm – 3:00 pm: Call to Action / Close

Portia Ballard Espy, Executive Director, Winter Institute

The inaugural 2021 Community Commitment Awards recognize outstanding leaders for their significant contributions to racial equity and community building within and outside of Mississippi.

The event is completely free, but participants must register at or to receive a Zoom link by email. Members of the media are welcome. Interviews with Winter Institute staff are available on request.

The National Day of Racial Healing originated in 2017 as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s national Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) effort, a process designed to bring transformational and sustainable change to communities, while addressing the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Former Governor William Winter, who recently passed away and for whom The Winter Institute is named, served as honorary co-chair for TRHT.

“Racial healing is rooted in experiences for truth telling and trust building, which are absolutely necessary for us to make the changes in this country for a more just and equitable future,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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