Joe Atkins | Stories | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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Joe Atkins

Commentary by Joe

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OPINION: Reform for a Broken System

The Salas family is one of many in Mississippi and the U.S. caught in the madness of the immigration debate and politicians' failure to pass real and meaningful reform to ...

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OPINION: The Business of Us All

I settled comfortably into my favorite chair one recent night and began watching the best Christmas movie ever: the 1951 version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

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OPINION: The Trojan Horse of Education

My high school had one, and maybe yours did, too—the toughest teacher in the school.

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OPINION: Reflections After the Union Loss

In These Times writer Joe Allen says the Nissan-Canton election loss "is nothing less than a knockout punch ending for the foreseeable future any efforts by the UAW to organize ...

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Character Acting With Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton, who died this month at the age of 91, was a "character actor," a term he didn't particularly like, one of those working stiffs of the Big ...

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Fighting an Old War

While Russia and Confederate statues deserve media coverage, they are also easy targets that don't challenge the corporate state.

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Nissan: At the Union Crossroads

Poor ol' Mississippi, so poor it can't even keep its roads paved and bridges repaired, has thus far spent $1.3 billion on taxpayer subsidies to keep Nissan in Canton. Nissan ...

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Finding Great U.S. Journalism

Trump is waging a constant battle with what he considers the purveyors of "fake news," while those same news outlets struggle to keep up with the stream of misinformation and ...

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A Pre-Huey Long Mississippi

When Huey Long first swept onto the political scene in Louisiana in the 1920s, the state was the quintessential southern backwater.

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The Democratic Old Guard

In March, when Bernie Sanders stood on the podium at the "March on Mississippi" in Canton and told the crowd that "the eyes of the country and the eyes of ...

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Bill Minor: Mississippi’s Eyes and Ears

Bill Minor wrote with authority. He had been a frontlines warrior ever since his first big story in Mississippi, the funeral of ranting, racist U.S. Sen. Theodore Bilbo.

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Danny Glover and the Rights of Workers

I'll never forget Danny Glover as the drifter Moze in the 1984 film "Places in the Heart." It was a Depression-era story of a widowed mother in the South trying ...

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Political Homelessness

It's hard not to feel a little politically homeless these days. I'm thinking of that old folk song, "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child."

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A Cold War Mentality

Back in the summer of 1992, just months after the failed coup that led to the fall of communism and Boris Yeltsin's rise to leadership in a new post-Soviet Russia, ...

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Why Hillary Clinton Lost

Neal Gabler and many of the anti-Trump post-election protesters are wrong when they issue a blanket indictment of all Trump voters, millions of whom voted out of an economic desperation ...

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Political War Stories

Many American voters are profoundly unhappy with the candidates from both major parties this election. Fifteen years of war are enough, you two! Americans are sick of war.

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A Topsy-Turvy World

I didn't make it to the recent Donald Trump rally in Jackson, but I'm sure my ears would have perked up as soon as the Republican presidential candidate began attacking ...

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The Rights of Working People

A longstanding French tradition upholds the rights of working people—and it goes back as far as the 1789 revolution with the so-called "sans-culottes" who were too poor to afford the ...

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Rebelling Against the Rebellion

Newt Knight is described as a "deserter, renegade and assassin" on the website of the local Sons of the Confederate Veterans chapter in Jones County, but Lew Smith in nearby ...

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Told You So About #MSLeg

In the poorest, most woe-begotten state in the United States, the Mississippi Troika and their loyal minions have managed to cut even deeper into woefully underfunded state education, health care, ...

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A French Government Official Weighs in on Nissan

A top deputy in the French National Assembly is calling on the French government to weigh in on behalf of workers at the giant Nissan plant in Canton who want ...

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Mississippi: Amazing for Film

Mississippi and its local communities benefit when the cameras roll here, whether they're big studio Hollywood cameras or those of independent filmmakers.

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Bernie Sanders: For the People

Southerners are friendly folk, so Bernie Sanders is going to hear a lot of "Y'all come!" as he takes his populist presidential campaign to Dixie. The question is: Will they ...

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Seeing Hope in Hard Times

Seeing voters in Louisiana and workers in Mississippi and Tennessee finally stand up to the political and corporate fog machine and assert their rights gives me hope for 2016.

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The Music of Immigrants

We're in the century-old Confiteria Ideal listening to the mother of all tangos, "La Cumparsita," and I'm thinking about the somewhat different world into which the tango was born.

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Tav Falco’s Evanescent South

Tav Falco, enfant terrible of the 1980s, walked onto the stage at Lafayette's Music Room here, dressed in black, his hair a Nuevo-'50s coif, picked up his guitar and let ...

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Waving the Wrong Flag

Working-class southern whites have a right to feel rebellious. The problem is they're waving the wrong flag to show it.

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Howard Industries’ Secret Life

Many of Howard Industries' predominantly black workers say they're underpaid for the hard, grueling work they do, but negotiations with management went nowhere after at least 16 meetings.

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Answering a Need Not Being Met

Dorothy Day House is the only refuge for homeless families in Memphis, Tenn., the nation's poorest large metropolitan area.

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Roll the Farmers Union On

A closing sentence in a 1937 Southern Tenant declaration of rights speaks to the hope that union still inspires: "To the disinherited belongs the future."

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B.B. King’s Universal Language

Blues music may be singing the "No Future Tomorrow" blues once B.B. King hangs up his guitar for good, Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglauer warned back in 2004.

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Trouble in Mississippi

Look at Mississippi under Republican grass-eater rule in both the governor's mansion and state Legislature. A lopsided tax system that favors corporations and the rich has contributed to one of ...

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Backward Toward Selma

Macye Chatman was a wide-eyed, Tennessee-bred, 19-year-old Tuskegee student in 1965 who turned civil-rights activist after seeing the level of racism and segregation practiced in the Deep South.

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A Long Apprenticeship

Some of my favorite fiction writers got their training banging out newspaper stories, like hardboiled master James Cain, but Hemingway had another point when he said getting "out of it ...

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A Union Presence

Even the unofficial presence of a union and its supporters help workers long before an election is held and can force a company to act right.

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Jesus, the Migrant

In her new book "Jesus Was A Migrant," writer Deirdre Cornell says migration is central to "biblical spirituality" and the chosen people themselves were "displaced, uprooted, homeless" migrants.

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‘This Is All A Big Game’

What a gathering it was two years ago when Terry McAuliffe got together with his buddies Bill Clinton and Haley Barbour in Horn Lake to celebrate the plant opening of ...

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Mississippi: The Next Stage for Progressivism?

A lot is changing in my home state, and the change here says much about the South today.

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Song for Charlie

We went to see one of jazz's great bassists, Charlie Haden, and his Quartet West. Rachel and Michael had never heard of him and had no interest in jazz, but ...

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Cochran, McDaniel: Bourbon vs. Populist, Again

The parallels between the Populist movement of the 1890s and today's Tea Party are striking, even though crucial differences also exist.

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A Bust for Barbour’s Corporate Welfare

Chiquita, known as the United Fruit Company before that name became synonymous with political bullying and corruption in Latin America, announced recently that it was moving its operation at the ...

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When You’re Down and Out

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who rode into the Governor's Mansion decrying the evils of undocumented migrant workers, says he also doesn't want "unions involved in our businesses or our public ...

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The Police State That Was Mississippi

One out of every four adult Americans now has a police record. Louisiana and Mississippi lead the nation in putting people behind bars.

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A Quantum Leap

Johnny McPhail and Lana Turner have something in common. The six-feet-four-inch, 215-pound, longhaired, mustachioed north Mississippi farm boy-turned-actor and the Hollywood sex siren of yesteryear both got discovered in a ...

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Labor Rights, Civil Rights

A group of workers, preachers and activists traveled from Mississippi to Detroit recently to proclaim what should be a core issue of 2014. "Labor rights are civil rights," Open Door ...

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Mandela and the South

When Nelson Mandela spoke to the U.S. Congress on June 26, 1990, the godfather of modern-day Republican obstructionism, the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, wasn't in the ...

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The Immorality of Incarceration

Mariachi guitarist Johnny Mora's bout with drugs was years in his past, but the legacy of jail time it led to is as much a companion as his guitar when ...

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Southern Tradition and Hypocrisy

The ruling class in the South doesn’t tolerate challenges to its rule well.

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Last of the Letter Writers

Sandy Margolis, the last of the letter writers, died at age 74 two years ago this September.