The Beloved Community inspires hope for Ward 2 at Dine & Dialogue community engagement event

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The Beloved Community recently hosted a Dine & Dialogue to share the results of data from a survey administered in Ward 2 to support critical areas of concern and to develop strategies for opportunities for progress of its residents. The event was free and open to the public.

The Beloved Community, an initiative of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures (IMMC), convened Ward 2 residents and others on December 7, 2023, at Callaway High School. The aim of the gathering was to build inter-faith and broad-based community partnerships through a unique prophetic-based social justice model to heal the souls of Mississippi. The program opened with an inter-faith prayer and closed with a community charge of unity, solidarity, and action. School supplies and personal care kits were distributed to the attendees and the JPS Alternative School. Free childcare was also provided. 

Invited guests were Dr. Safiya Omari, City of Jackson; Angelique Lee, Ward 2 Councilwoman; Dr. Donzell Lee, Tougaloo College President; Attorney Paloma Wu; and Ward 2 residents. “The Ward 2 community is still very hopeful of a Jackson that can thrive and work together to improve the overall quality of life of its residents. This Dine & Dialogue event is just what the community needs to get the conversation started and begin to take steps toward a plan of action! We are excited to gather on December 7 to continue the work that began when the City Council, with Mayor Lumumba’s lead, unanimously approved IMMC’s resolution to take up the banner of creating a Beloved Community of Jackson,” says the Project Manager, Najla Salahuddin.

With Ward 2 as the focus of the survey, the results yielded the following areas of concern that were voiced by residents as reported by Salahuddin.

• Local and State Leadership          

• Education                        

• Public Safety

• Infrastructure

• Poverty

• Housing

• Access to Food and Nutrition

• Economic/Business Development

Additional highlights of the data illuminated these insights:

– 72% of residents in the Ward rated economic/business development as being “poor.”

– A decline in the number of grocery stores, retail, and thriving businesses is having a major impact on the economic development (or lack thereof) in Ward 2.

– 42% of residents rated public safety as being “poor.”

– Surprisingly, out of the schools that may possibly close soon in Jackson, none of those schools are in Ward 2.

– Ward 2 will soon have no operating grocery stores.

– The vast majority of residents in Ward 2 rated infrastructure as being “poor.”

– Seniors living below poverty in Ward 2 range from 9.9% – 35.4%. 

– Most residents of Ward 2 are very concerned about local and state leadership.

A major plan of Jackson’s Beloved Community is to facilitate the development of teams made up of Ward 2 community members (in each critical area of concern) that will produce strategic plans to create solutions which will improve the overall quality of life of Ward 2 residents. Each team will be supported by established organizations and stakeholders to collaborate in creating successful solutions in each of the critical focus areas. Eventually, when this pilot project is successful, the model will then be implemented in the other six wards in Jackson –thereby resulting in a city-wide Jackson Beloved Community.

The Beloved Community is an inter-organizational, inter-generational, and inter-faith project that consists of individuals and organizations committed to identifying and addressing concerns and inequities in Jackson and Mississippi. The Beloved Community is a community built by the community for the community and believes that poverty, hunger, homelessness, racism, hatred, and violence will not be tolerated. The community believes in restoring human dignity, peace, and pride to achieve racial equity, social justice, and healing. 

The Beloved Community’s team of partners include the City of Jackson, Tougaloo College, Working Together Jackson, People’s Advocacy Institute, Masjid Muhammad, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Waggoner Engineering, and other supporters.

Okolo Rashid, Executive Director/CEO and Project Director of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures, asserts, “Our community partners stretch across multiple sections of our community and have the capacity and influence to help make the necessary changes to heal and improve the lives of Jacksonians.”

For additional information and to obtain a copy of the results of the Ward 2 survey contact and/or call 601-345-1122.

(Advocate photos: Joshua Martin)

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The Beloved Community inspires hope for Ward 2 at Dine & Dialogue community engagement event

By Brinda Fuller Willis
January 1, 2024