From staff reports
James Meredith name will always be tied to education as the first black student admitted to Ole Miss but he aims to expand that legacy as he travels across the state promoting education for the young children in the state.
“I plan to fulfill a mission,” said Meredith. “I hope to get every person involved in educating our youth.”
To do this Meredith recently walked Highway 51 from Mississippi’s border with Tennessee to its border with Louisiana this summer, in a campaign reminiscent of his 1966 March Against Fear. This time, he said, the mission was about education for all and getting communities involved in the education of every child. Following the walk across the state, Meredith plans to visit every county with his message of Education and Truth. The first county on his list was Winston County.
“I remember my father always talking about Noxapater and glad this (Winston County) was my first visit,” said Meredith.
In each county he visits, Meredith said his primary goal is to speak with media outlets and raise awareness of his proposals through visits at the courthouse as well. On those visits, Meredith hands out cards with the five points of his message on them.
Meredith’s first principle is, “Only the family of God can solve the problems of our time.” Building on that, the second principle is Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The third is the African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
To illustrate how these first few principles work, Meredith used bullying in schools as an example.
“Every one of these situations start where the students (who bully others) live, in the community, and that’s the only place it can be stopped,” Meredith said. “Raising a child is more than school. School is part of the process, but most people think the school is supposed to do it all. The parents, church leaders, and community must teach morality rather than the school system.”
The fourth principle, Meredith said, is for every church in Mississippi to take responsibility for every child born within two miles of the church.
“With the churches helping to take responsibility for those in their midst, we can stop the breakdown of morale character,” said Meredith. “Mississippi is going to change we just have to decide if it is going to be for the better or for the worse.”
The fifth principle is for each church to keep a record of each child from birth until age 21 so that church members and church leaders can serve as mentors to these children and later give them professional recommendations, he said.
“It used to be that the preacher (or) the principal could tell you about every one in the community,” Meredith said. “We not only don’t know each other now, we don’t want to know each other now, and that has to change. The people who need recommendation most in life are the people with the most problems.”
Meredith said he believes these five principles will provide children, particularly those between birth and age 5, with the foundation they need to become productive, upstanding citizens.
“All of us keep talking about what somebody else did to us, what somebody else owes us, what somebody else ought to do for us. Our future depends upon what we do,” added Meredith.
Meredith aims to continue his “Walk for Education and Truth” visiting all 82 counties and encouraging each person to help the next generation develop moral character and a thirst for knowledge.