Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and former Gov. Haley Barbour will share a stage Thursday in what could be some of the most compelling political theater of the season.
The outspoken pair will come together at the “Conversation About Community” forum in support of Operation Shoestring, a local charity that provides after-school programs for at-risk youth, among other efforts. Wells Church pastor the Rev. Keith Tonkel rounds out the three-member panel, which will discuss ways to improve the state’s capital, which is plagued by infrastructure problems, an eroding tax base, crime and a struggling school district.
While ticket sales for the 11:30 a.m. forum at the Jackson Convention Complex will directly benefit the charity’s school programs, the hope is the conversation itself will have lasting value to the community as a whole.
“I think we felt that we Jacksonians and Mississippians don’t have a lot of constructive conversations about big, tough issues — until, often, things come to a head,” said Robert Langford, the group’s executive director. “So, we wanted to create that safe space for tough talk, and, we hope, constructive talk.”