OPINION: Something has to change

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By Rev. Jermanique Mitchell

Jackson Advocate Guest Writer

Editor’s note: Rev. Jermanique Mitchell, pastor of Nazareth Lee M.B. Church in Jackson, MS, recently delivered the eulogy at the celebration of life services for a young Black male who just reached adulthood. His words were so impactful on addressing murder amongst Black youth that his message is being shared here to keep the conversation front and center.

Scripture: Joshua 24:14-15

I must admit that we are living in a day where the age for dying has transitioned from older people to younger ones. There was a time that when you heard of someone dying, it was usually related to being sick, fighting in a war, being racially murdered, or old age. 

But beloved, a transition has taken place for Black America. It’s one thing to die from a health problem! It’s one thing to die from an accident! It’s one thing to die from old age! But dying from senseless violence has truly become the norm. 

As of May 1, at least 13,959 people have died from gun violence in the U.S. this year, which is an average of roughly 115 deaths each day. Of those who died, 491 were teens and 85 were children.

In an average year, 607 people die by guns in Mississippi, with Mississippi having the 4th highest rate of gun deaths in the United States. 

I must attest that while we are fighting among each other over personal prideful agendas, our future Black boys and men are killing each other over money, territory, women, cars, and clothes. Where is our focus!? What are we truly doing for the state of Black humanity to survive in America? 

Something has to change!

Mothers and fathers are suffering from grief and loss because their children are being shot down without knowledge of why. Families have gotten apprehensive about even allowing their children to go to school, malls, restaurants, parties, or even church because of senseless, insane individuals who don’t care about their own life nor the life of others. 

Something has to change! 

And not only does it start in the home, but it also must start in the heart. 

America brags about being the land of the free but it’s hard to be free without faith in God! Why continue to argue about garbage contracts when, if we continue at this rate, there won’t be a human to throw out trash? Why continue to argue about voting rights, when there won’t be a human body to cast the vote? Why continue to fuss about the state of highway and street safety, when the human being is not safe? Why fight for what’s happening at the border, when we can’t even agree on terms to stop violence in our own backyards? 


In the Old Testament, Joshua invites all of Israel to the town of Shechem in the central highlands of Israel. Joshua reminds them of the long history of all that God had done for Israel: the promises to the ancestors, the deliverance from slavery in Egypt, and God’s provision through the wilderness (Joshua 24:1-13).

But make no mistake: Joshua 24 is all about choices. It’s all about commitment – commitment to one’s family, commitment to truth and to moral virtue, and above all else, commitment to God.

There comes a point where we all must decide if we are going to serve God and if we’re going to put our faith in Jesus to save us from our sins and submit to his lordship in our lives. The alternative is serving other gods and falling prey to the injustices of human life. 

It was the great mind of Malcolm X who stated, “It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country.”

As children of God, we are at a pivotal point that not only brotherhood but a change of heart and spirit must take place to change our home and the world. 

Where are the saints of old who believed that it took a village to raise a child? Where are the saints of old that watched out for not only their children but their neighbors’ children? Where are the saints of old that not only protected their home but they protected yours also? Have we gotten that educated, that rich, that independent, and that arrogant that we have turned our backs on the very superior, miraculous Being that brought us through Jim Crow, brought us through lynch mobs, brought us through racial injustice, brought us through yellow fever, brought us through the Great Depression, brought us through an insane insatiable ignorant narcissist president, and even brought us through a national pandemic!? Have we become that confident in our own abilities that we don’t need the One who took us from outhouses to the White House!?

A choice has to be made!


In that same chapter, Joshua challenges the people of God to choose ye THIS day! And I stand here at 1209 Dalton Street declaring the same statement, “CHOOSE YE THIS DAY”! Are we going to continue to bury our future or are we going to take a stand and fight for the continuation of our Black community! Will this young man’s death continue to be a statistic or will we change the narrative and make his death a start for change. Today can be the start for something new and different but it starts with a choice! 

Now I’m not saying ignorance will stop, but it can be different! Even when change is initiated, the enemy will yet beef up his fight to frustrate us off the path, but I challenge us to stay focused! 

An unknown author wrote these prophetic words, “If a task has begun, don’t quit until it’s done! Be the task big or small, do it well or not at all.” 

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OPINION: Something has to change

By Jackson Advocate News Service
June 19, 2023