By Dylan Edwards
The second annual Racial Reconciliation Week kicked off at the University of Mississippi with the showing of “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle of Turkey Creek” on Monday.
A dialogue led by Reilly Morse, president and CEO of the Mississippi Center of Justice, followed.
Racial Reconciliation Week is a joint effort between the Ole Miss athletics department and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation to promote racial equality.
“We’re very pleased that tonight’s event kicked off our Racial Reconciliation Week with Ole Miss athletics,” said Susan Glisson, executive director of the Winter Institute.
The documentary showcased the efforts of Boston teacher Derrick Evans over the course of several years to save his historic hometown of Turkey Creek from the expansion projects of Gulfport.
Turkey Creek is a small Mississippi coastal town originally settled by emancipated slaves. Many of the residents have family ties dating back to the original settlers.
The successful battle of the predominately black community to preserve the history of Turkey Creek and not let the town disappear off the map was the central focus for the opening act of the week-long event.
“It’s not just our history or their history,” Morse said. “It’s everybody’s history. That’s the reconciliation moment.”
The University of Mississippi has a checkered history of race disputes, stretching from the early stages of integration to the James Meredith statue incident of last spring.
“Whites insulted, demeaned and dehumanized blacks (in the past),” Morse said. “The residue of that has continued over generations into our generation. If we’re going to talk about race reconciliation, then no place in America should be leading that anymore than this place right here.”
Racial Reconciliation Week is an attempt to display that the actions of those in the past are not indicative of the present or future of Ole Miss. The university battles the perception that the school is still racist based on its history.
“Nobody alive today invented racism,” Glisson said. “It is our obligations though to make our world a better place.”