Photo courtesy Joshua Mannery
Joshua Mannery, a 17-year-old Jackson resident and senior at Murrah High School, was attending a rally to change the state flag at the state capitol in March 2016 when he met Maisie Brown, a 14-year-old freshman at Jim Hill High School. The two became friends after the rally and, shortly after the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, decided that it was time to organize a rally of their own.
Mannery and Brown's Show We Care Rally will take place at noon, Saturday, July 30, at the state capitol. The duo has already begun mobilizing supporters on social media with the hashtags #showwecare and #justpayschools.
"Our rally started because we wanted to raise awareness of a bunch of issues Jackson teenagers are facing, like the lack of proper funding for (Jackson Public Schools), for example, but now it's grown to include issues about juvenile justice, Black Lives Matter, the state flag and just getting your voice heard," Mannery said.
After Mannery proposed the idea of holding a rally, Brown suggested that they tackle topics such as Initiative 42 and the lack of funding for JPS. While the two were in the midst of planning their rally, the Philando Castile shooting in Minnesota and the shootings of five Dallas Police officers took place in rapid succession, which led them to protest the Mississippi state flag and police brutality against minorities, as well.
Brown designed a flyer to promote the rally and began putting the word out on social media. On the day they announced the Show We Care Rally, it received nearly 100 retweets on Twitter, and praise started pouring in from all over the state, along with promises to attend. Brown also reached out to Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber, whom she had spoken with at other Jackson rallies, to ask if he would be there to further raise awareness for the event, and he agreed to attend.
"I wanted Mayor Yarber to be there to reinforce to students in Jackson that someone in a position of authority is listening to them," Brown said. "The point of this rally is to show Jackson that we are not just selfish as teens. ... We will be the next generation of adults soon, and we care about this; the students of Jackson care and are aware of what's happening and will not stand for it—for things like the underfunding of JPS compared to other districts, the failure of Initiative 42, the Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter movements, the message that the state flag sends to black Mississippians and so much more."
Mannery said that family and friends have been highly welcoming toward their plans for the rally, and he has high hopes for a good turnout at the event.
"I'm happy that we got the idea for this nailed down and that it's coming along so well," he said. "I'm excited about hosting this and hope to spread awareness of all these topics and inform the people of Jackson. I think it's safe to say that Maisie and I are both activists, and that when things like these are happening in the world and keep happening day by day, we and all Jackson teens want our voices and feelings to be heard. ... I think we're tired of just talking and want to take action and make our opinions heard. We might just be able to change others' opinions and get something done."
Maisie Brown is interning the Jackson Free Press as part of the ongoing Mississippi Youth Media Project. For more information on the Show We Care Rally, visit her Twitter page, @maisiebrownjxn.