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Heal America Tour reaches Jackson to discuss needed change in the city

By Chelsey Sellars | October 21, 2020 at 11:06 PM CDT

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – The Heal America tour has traveled all around the country but Wednesday night, the initiative focused on Jackson.

Bishop Omar Jahwar is the leader and organizer of the tour. He is battling the coronavirus in the hospital, so Jackson State University’s Head Coach Deion Sanders stepped in to moderate.

Different groups of panelists took over the stage at Thalia Mara Hall. Local, long-time pastors began by sharing what they feel is needed for change.

“The challenge today is, especially, is to do more one-on-ones, to do more mentoring. True discipleship of people. That’s kind of a lost word,” said one pastor.

The next community group was a less-obvious one. Sanders referring to them as O.G.s or Original Gangsters.

“But where I come from,” said Sanders, “these guys have always looked out for me. They always had my back. They always gave me a boost up.”

Some of these panelists are formally incarcerated men who are now succeeding, while wanting the city to do better too.

“We just need some help. But when I say we need help, only we can help the community because, just to be honest, the police can’t change the community. The mayor can’t change the community, the people in the community can change the community,” said Terry Thomas, a panelist.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba attended the discussion as well.

“Sometimes the best strategy is to have trust, for the police department to have trust in some circumstances that [the community leaders] are resolving that conflict,” said Lumumba.

In the closing remarks, Sanders asked the room to pledge to make a difference in Jackson going forward.

“We are going to do our parts individually as well as collectively to provoke change. Not just talk about it, be about it,” said Sanders.

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