Jackson Rally Calls for Militant Pursuit of Equality | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Jackson Rally Calls for Militant Pursuit of Equality

Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, at Jackson's Day of Dignity.

Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, at Jackson's Day of Dignity. Photo by Trip Burns

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As dusk fell at the Mississippi Capitol yesterday, the crowd had dwindled from about 500 people who were present at the start of the Day of Dignity social-justice awareness rally to a handful of organizers and hardcore citizen activists.

Jaribu Hill, executive director of the Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights, spoke from the podium on the south steps of the statehouse and said reform-minded citizens should build up their stamina if they couldn't handle a two-hour-long rally.

"Our ancestors worked from sunup to sundown," Hill said of her enslaved forbearers.

Jackson's Day of Dignity coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, but the Day of Dignity was less about commemorating the historical march and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, than reminding attendees that obstacles to justice and equality in Mississippi are formidable.

"We are still fighting to ensure equality is provided to all children," Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, said.

Advocates from a number of nonprofit organizations used the platform to tout successes and talk about the work that remains. For example, representatives from the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative announced what it considers a major victory. On Wednesday, a Hinds County Chancery Court judge issued a permanent injunction against a Mississippi Department of Human Services finger-scanning program.

Advocates for poor families criticized the program, which required low-income parents to scan their fingers when dropping off and picking up their children at child-care centers. Those opposed to the program said it discriminates against parents who receive government subsidies as well as the centers that participate in the low-income subsidy program.

Jennifer Riley Collins, executive director of the Mississippi ACLU, pointed out that the United States is "the world's No. 1 incarcerator" and that Mississippi has the nation's second-highest incarceration rate in the nation, just behind Louisiana.

Jed Oppenheim, a senior advocate at the Southern Poverty Law Center and one of the Day of Dignity's organizers, called Mississippi's high rate of mass incarceration undignified.

"We need to write our own laws, our own local policies," Oppenheim told the audience.

Several veterans of the civil-rights movement on hand linked issues activists were fighting for in the 1960s to the problems of today, many of which remain the same.

Bill Chandler, director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, drew parallels between the struggle to protect the rights of immigrants in Mississippi and around the nation, which he said are part of the broader fight for workers' rights and equality.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba echoed the call for equality in his remarks to the rally.

"We must be militant in the pursuit of that equality," Lumumba said. "We can't be timid in the pursuit of that equality. Sometimes, we can't even be nice in the pursuit of that equality".

Comments

js1976 4 years, 2 months ago

"We need to write our own laws, our own local policies," Oppenheim told the audience."

As opposed to who, the state? Is he referring to "we" the people need to write our own laws?

"We must be militant in the pursuit of that equality," Lumumba said."

Using terminology such as this is what causes doubt in his ability to lead the City of Jackson into a better place. The term "militant" is most commonly used as a combatitve and aggressive term, and this is the type of mayor many residents feared.

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justjess 4 years, 2 months ago

@js1976

"Using terminology such as this is what causes doubt in his ability to lead the City of Jackson into a better place. The term "militant" is most commonly used as a combative and aggressive term, and this is the type of mayor many residents feared."

I agree that this type of language does not speak to "unification" as this Mayor promised; however, it seems as if he is being given a pass.

My concern over this event sponsored by the NAACP was the title and agenda that was not in keeping with the 50yr. commemoration of Dr. King's March on Washington and his historic speech, "I Have a Dream". I know that Mayor Lumumba said in a campaign speech, "I am not a Barac Obama Democrat". He never explained exactly what he meant. Now that he has said , "We must be militant in the pursuit of that equality" the "King" concept of a "non-violent movement " is replaced with the idea of military combat.

This is the wrong message for our citizens. It further divides a city with residents who are trying to heal the atrocities of our not-so-distant past.

To the organizers of the Day of Dignity Social Justice Awareness Rally, this community is reminded everyday of the hand-cuffs on the wrist of our youth and I agree that learning would be difficult; however, there are so many youth who have done and are doing positive things in this community. Where were the messages of their accomplishments? I honor and give praise to the NAACP, but, 50 years from now, it is my hope that these two events will be scheduled in a fashion that will not take away from the commemoration of the March on Washington. I, as many of you, will not be alive; but for today, THIS IS MY DREAM!

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justjess 4 years, 2 months ago

@js1976

"Using terminology such as this is what causes doubt in his ability to lead the City of Jackson into a better place. The term "militant" is most commonly used as a combative and aggressive term, and this is the type of mayor many residents feared."

I agree that this type of language does not speak to "unification" as this Mayor promised; however, it seems as if he is being given a pass.

My concern over this event sponsored by the NAACP was the title and agenda that was not in keeping with the 50yr. commemoration of Dr. King's March on Washington and his historic speech, "I Have a Dream". I know that Mayor Lumumba said in a campaign speech, "I am not a Barac Obama Democrat". He never explained exactly what he meant. Now that he has said , "We must be militant in the pursuit of that equality" the "King" concept of a "non-violent movement " is replaced with the idea of military combat.

This is the wrong message for our citizens. It further divides a city with residents who are trying to heal the atrocities of our not-so-distant past.

To the organizers of the Day of Dignity Social Justice Awareness Rally, this community is reminded everyday of the hand-cuffs on the wrist of our youth and I agree that learning would be difficult; however, there are so many youth who have done and are doing positive things in this community. Where were the messages of their accomplishments? I honor and give praise to the NAACP, but, 50 years from now, it is my hope that these two events will be scheduled in a fashion that will not take away from the commeration of the March on Washington. I, as many of you, will not be alive; but for today, THIS IS MY DREAM!

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js1976 4 years, 2 months ago

"Where were the messages of their accomplishments?"

Great question!

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