JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In his new role as Jackson State’s Head Football Coach, Deion Sanders is turning his attention off the field and to the streets to turn his message “I believe” into action bettering the city.
It’s one thing to get on a stage with politicians or celebrities, but in his first Heal Jackson event coach Prime welcomed everyday men from the city who may have a troubling past but spoke about moving forward to become part of the solution.
After greeting a crowd whose city experienced 106 homicides so far this year, coach Deion Sanders brought out eight young men who’ve experienced life on the streets to discuss what drives the violence.
“I wanted to meet with them because they have a hold on our communities,” coach Sanders announced. “Oftentimes they choose to do what’s right even when wrong is convenient.”
“I’m not perfect, I’ve been to prison and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do some things in my past that was wrong,” one man told the audience. “But it was just I didn’t know. We do need more standup men in Jackson.”
A big topic discussed down the line was how Jackson’s economic losses and poverty has led to young people turning to crime and having no true mentors to guide them in life.
“They got to go back into that jungle so until we change the environment that we live in, what we said or been saying is nothing more,” another speaker said.
“Only we can help the community, so to be completely honest the police can’t change the community,” a third man preached. “The mayor can’t change the community, the people in the community can change the community.”
Coach Sanders also invited pastors from Jackson to shed light on relationships with your local church that can keep people mentally strong and feel enough support so they don’t turn to crime.
“I think the church and the community got to come together and understand that the church has to be separate parents to our community,” one Pastor told everyone.
“You ask anybody who has been helped by a church they will tell you the things that particular church and pastor have done,” Pastor CJ Rhodes said to coach Sanders. “But people outside that church don’t know that necessarily that church has helped pay light bills, feed the community and all those kinds of things.”
Both Jackson Police Cheif James Davis and Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba were in attendance and spoke about joining efforts to rid the city of violence.
If you would like to do your part by donating or volunteering with heal Jackson you can log onto healing America and the non-profit standing together to see where their next causes are going to.