December 19, 2014

Say it With Ya Chest: Kevin Hart is Coming to Jackson

By R.L. Nave

See, the way Thalia Mara Hall is set up....

Kevin Hart will perform in Jackson on Jan. 25.

Tickets went on sale today for the show, slated for Thalia Mara at 7 p.m.

One of the biggest-name stand-up comedians and actors in the business, Hart will appear in a film called "Top Five" directed by Chris Rock. Fellow professional funny people Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld and Whoopi Goldberg will also appear in the film. Hart will appear in three other comedies in 2015, including The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard, opposite Will Farrell and Ride Along 2, a sequel.

Other film credits include Little Fockers with Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller, Death at a Funeral, Fool’s Gold and The 40 Year Old Virgin.

A press release also states that Hart’s other television credits include, hosting BET’s classic stand-up comedy series Comic View: One Mic Stand, ABC’s The Big House, which he also executive produced and wrote, and recurring roles on Love, Inc, Barbershop, and Undeclared.

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.


December 17, 2014

Holly Springs Becomes 9th City To Pass LGBT Resolution

By AnnaWolfe

A Human Rights Campaign press release acknowledges the efforts from the Holly Springs Mayor and Board of Alderman to welcome its LGBT community. The release reads:

Jackson—Last night, the Holly Springs, Mississippi Mayor and Board of Aldermen passed a resolution recognizing the dignity and worth of all city residents - including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). The city joins eight other communities in the Magnolia State whose leaders have acknowledged and valued its LGBT residents.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Mississippi Director Rob Hill released the following statement in response to the city’s actions:

“We applaud the Mayor and Board of Aldermen for taking an active step to create a welcoming space for LGBT Mississippians who call Holly Springs home. Leadership requires courage and the board’s decision represents the true values of Mississippi. This is a clear example of elected officials putting the Golden Rule into action.”

During last night’s meeting, Alderman at Large Timothy Liddy stated the following:

“For the City of Holly Springs to attract good citizens, home owners, students, businesses, and employees, we need to stay competitive with other communities in Mississippi and throughout the nation. A Resolution Affirming the City of Holly Springs Commitment to Diversity is one step in achieving this goal.”

Announced in April 2014, HRC Mississippi is part of HRC’s Project One America, a lasting investment concentrated in the Deep South by making progress on three fronts--changing hearts and minds, advancing enduring legal protections, and building more inclusive institutions for LGBT people from the church pew to the workplace.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

December 9, 2014

Rep. Bennie Thompson Wants Hearings on Deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Others

By R.L. Nave

Mississippi U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, joined fellow black lawmakers in calling for in-depth hearings on the deaths of several African American men killed by police this year.

Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., and John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., ranking members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary, respectively, joined Thompson in asking for congressional hearings on the killings of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y.

In both those cases, local grand juries recently declined to indict the police officers who killed the men despite the presence of muddled evidence that a trial could illuminate. The non-indictments also sparked new waves of demonstrations across the country, including in Jackson.

“We firmly believe that events in Staten Island, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere have fractured the trust of Americans in the integrity of the criminal justice system,” the Congressmen wrote in a letter to the Republican chairmen of their respective committees.

“The federal government has a critical role to play in ensuring that all Americans are treated equally before the law, especially by their local police, and it is our responsibility to exercise oversight of the funding and resources that the Federal government allocates to these local jurisdictions. Hearings into these topics will be important early steps on the long road of healing across the country.”

December 5, 2014

Gov. Bryant Gives Dr. Aaron Shirley His Day, Keeps Flags Full-Mast

By R.L. Nave

Gov. Phil Bryant declared Dec. 5 to be Dr. Aaron Shirley Day in Mississippi in honor of the medical pioneer who passed away last week.

Shirley was born in Gluckstadt, but moved to Jackson at an early age. Shirley attended Lanier High School and graduated from Tougaloo College in 1955 and Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tenn., in 1959. He completed his residency in pediatric medicine at the University of Mississippi in 1965.

In 1970, Shirley founded the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center and, in 1997, the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center. Aaron also served as president of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation. The Jackson Medical Mall was set up in an abandoned shopping center; the facility is a valuable asset in helping revitalize a disadvantaged area of Jackson. Shirley, in 2010, also launched a program to dispatch physicians to rural areas.

In addition to the proclamation, state Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, had also asked Gov. Bryant to order flags around the state lowered to half-mast in remembrance of Shirley but was told the custom is to lower flags only to honor fallen law enforcement and military personnel and elected officials.

Horhn called the denial disappointing and said the state's policy on when flags can be placed at half-mast may need to be clarified.

"I think he deserves that distinction," Horhn said of Dr. Shirley. " Aaron Shirley was one of the finest Mississippians this state ever produced."

Funeral services for Dr. Shirley take place Saturday Dec. 6 at the UMMC Conference Center at the Jackson Medical Mall at 11a.m.

December 3, 2014

Did Lt. Gov. Get Fact Wrong on Common Core?

By AnnaWolfe

At Stennis Press Forum at the Capital Club Monday, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves called Common Core an example of government overreach and pledged to work to scrap the standards during the upcoming legislative session.

He cited the situation in Oklahoma, in which he said the U.S. government stripped the state of its ability to set its own education standards after dropping Common Core. This, he said, constituted a "hijacking" of state education standards by the Obama administration.

That was incorrect, however.

In reality, the federal government stripped Oklahoma of its waiver because when it decided not to use Common Core, it had no educational standards in place, which violates the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

A joint statement from State Board of Education Chairman Dr. John Kelly and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright stated that Common Core has been "attached to an unprecedented level of misinformation."

"For example, Oklahoma had its U.S. Department of Education flexibility waiver revoked because it did not have standards in place when it dropped the Common Core State Standards. Having rigorous standards is a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Mississippi remains in charge of its education policies and must remain committed to higher standards," the statement reads.

December 1, 2014

State Education Leaders Respond to Lt. Gov.'s Statements on Education

By AnnaWolfe

At the Dec. 1 Stennis Press Forum, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves spoke about upcoming efforts for education reform, touted school choice alongside greater funding and announced plans to move away from Common Core standards.

Mississippi Department of Education leaders responded with this statement:

Joint statement from State Board of Education Chairman Dr. John Kelly and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright on Lieutenant Governor’s remarks on education

While we fully support the Lieutenant Governor’s desire to set the highest possible standards for the students of Mississippi, we have grave reservations about changing the playbook in the middle of the game. The Mississippi Board of Education adopted the state’s College- and Career-Ready Standards in 2010, which set a new baseline expectation for what students should learn and achieve. The need for higher standards was made evident by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which evaluated education standards in every state. The institute deemed Mississippi’s math standards “mediocre,” and described our English standards as among “the worst in the country.”

Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards are by far the highest academic standards we have ever had in the state or the nation. Mississippi is one of 46 states that voluntarily adopted these rigorous standards to prepare students for the demands of 21st century careers. Both Gov. Phil Bryant and former Gov. Haley Barbour endorsed the standards when they each signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that denoted the State of Mississippi as a Governing State in the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium.

Though we now have our highest academic standards in history, the standards have always been viewed as the floor, or minimum, of what to expect from our students. The state Board of Education and Department of Education will continue to aim high by always raising the bar for academic achievement. We welcome the opportunity to partner with lawmakers and stakeholders in this effort.

We understand that the term “Common Core” has become a lightning rod in some political circles, and as a result, has become attached to an unprecedented level of misinformation. For example, Oklahoma had its U.S. Department of Education flexibility waiver revoked because it did not have standards in place when it dropped the Common Core State Standards. Having rigorous standards is a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Mississippi remains in charge of its education policies and must remain committed to higher standards.

The Lieutenant Governor’s proposal to drop Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards and write new ones is not as simple as it may appear. Developing new standards is a multiyear, and very expensive, process. Implementing new standards also takes several years. Just ask the thousands of educators and school leaders around the state who have invested a tremendous amount of time, work, training, and resources to implement our College- and Career-Ready Standards. These costs include millions of dollars invested by local school districts for textbooks, curriculum materials, and professional development. Changing course after our ...

November 19, 2014

Jackson NAACP: Hinds Elex Commish Connie Cochran Should Resign

By R.L. Nave

The Jackson branch of the NAACP is calling for the ouster of Connie Cochran, the chairwoman of the Hinds County Election Commission, for problems during the Nov. 4 general election.

Some precincts saw unexpectedly high turnout. Some of those polling places ran out of ballots late in the evening, which touched off a mad scramble to print more. Agitated by the long waits, some voters left without casting their ballots.

Later, Connie Cochran—the chairwoman of the Hinds County Election Commission—admitted that the commission failed to follow a state law mandating that enough ballots be printed for 75 percent of registered voters. Cochran took responsibility for making the call to save the county money.

Wayne McDaniels, president of the local NAACP, said through a press release: "Ms. Cochran violated thousands of Hinds County residents’ constitutional rights and broke the state law by not having enough election ballots at the time of voting. In addition, the Jackson City Branch NAACP is also asking for any other commissioner’s resignation if they voted with her or supported her actions."

Board Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen told supervisors that Cochran's statements to local media would likely result in legal action. He cited a state law that makes violating state-election requirements a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fee.

This week, supervisors took the additional step of formally asking Robert Shuler Smith, the county's chief prosecutor, and Attorney General Jim Hood to sanction the five-member election commission after amending a motion to single out Connie Cochran, the District 4 representative, for reprimand. District 4 Supervisor Tony Greer voted against the motion to ask for sanctions.

November 18, 2014

Governor Snubs Public Education Funding

By AnnaWolfe

Keeping with the status quo, Gov. Phil Bryant has shorted public education in his 2016 budget recommendation. Below is a press release from Better Schools Better Jobs.

JACKSON – Supporters of a citizens' initiative to require full state funding for K-12 education insist Gov. Phil Bryant's 2016 budget proposal does little to resolve chronic under-funding, saying it's a good reason Mississippi voters should support their cause.

“Gov. Bryant's budget once again shortchanges Mississippi's school children,” said Patsy R. Brumfield, communications director for Better Schools, Better Jobs, which gathered nearly 200,000 signatures earlier this year to support a constitutional amendment to require the state to fully fund its part of K-12 schools.

Monday, Bryant announced his latest budget plan, which he said increases public school funding by more than $52 million.

Initiative advocates said Tuesday the increase does not improve basic K-12 funding, rather chiefly funds the second year of a teacher pay raise, which isn't part of the basic funding formula passed by the Legislature in 1997 and fully funded only twice.

“If anyone were waiting for a reason to support the Better Schools, Better Jobs Initiative that will guarantee funding for our students, Gov. Bryant just gave them one,” Brumfield added.

Dr. Ray Morgigno, superintendent of Pearl Public School District near Jackson, was not impressed with Bryant's proposal.

“I am disappointed that this budget really doesn’t do much to address the underfunding we have been facing,” he said.

The governor's plan still leaves K-12 school funding about $260 million short of the standard recognized by the Legislature as “adequate.”

“Fully funding MAEP would help districts deal with the increase in basic costs along with all of the mandates that are put on districts each year,” Morgigno said. “Unfortunately, the governor's proposal shows no truly improved commitment to education in our state.”

He said Bryant's budget proposal does nothing to help shore up the underfunding for mandates such as more technology in the classroom and curriculum needs to prepare for the continually increasing testing requirements, among others.

“The other issue that we are not addressing are the increases to keep up aging facilities, air conditioners, heaters, buses and rising textbook costs,” the Pearl school leader said. “Energy costs to heat and cool buildings continue to climb each year.”

The constitutional amendment initiative goes to the Legislature, when it convenes in January.

November 18, 2014 | 1 comment

Stanford: Gun Carry Laws Linked To Increase in Violent Crime

By Todd Stauffer

So you know that conventional wisdom that says the people are safer with a lot of guns around?

Turns out maybe not so much.

"The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates" of aggravated assault, rape, robbery and murder, said Donohue.

Earlier studies (including the frequently debated and arguably debunked work of John Lott) suggested that carry laws were correlating with lower incidents of violent crime; by extending the amount of time studied, however, the National Research Council poured cold water on the Lott theory, and now Stanford's new study sees things trending even further in the direction that kinda makes more sense -- more guns equals more violent crime, particularly assaults with a deadly weapon.

Of course, how much is open to interpretation, but the notion that more guns equals less violent crime seems to be put to bed by its own number crunching.

November 10, 2014

Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner to Posthumously Receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom

By R.L. Nave

Verbatim press release from the office of the U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02) released the following statement regarding President Obama’s plans to posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner:

“Fifty years ago, the lives of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were taken away from us at a far too early age,” said Thompson. “These three young men, and countless others, paid the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to help bring equality to the state of Mississippi. Bestowing the nation’s highest civilian honor to these three men is a fitting tribute for their contribution toward making this country a more perfect Union. I commend President Obama for honoring these men and look forward to carrying on the spirit of their effort.”

On May 29, 2014, Congressman Thompson and members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to President Obama requesting for the Presidential Medal of Freedom be bestowed posthumously to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (letter attached).

Established by President John F. Kennedy, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the United States. The award has been awarded to over 500 recipients who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented posthumously at the White House on November 24, 2014.

November 5, 2014

Neo-Confederates Introduce Heritage Initiative

By AnnaWolfe

The Secretary of State posted a new initiative to its website that reads:

Initiative #46 would amend the Constitution to restrict or define Mississippi’s heritage in the following areas: religion, official language, state flag, nickname, song, motto and state university mascots. Further, the initiative would prevent the consolidation of Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi University for Women, and Mississippi Valley State University, designate the month of April “Confederate Heritage Month,” and reinstate Mississippi’s Constitutional boundaries.

The initiative was filed by Arthur Randallson, Magnolia State Heritage Campaign Director and former Tea Party of Mississippi Chairman. Randallson also previously proposed an initiative to amend the constitution to designate Colonel Reb the official mascot of the University of Mississippi.

Some say his current initiative is a way to declare Christianity the official religion of Mississippi. This pretty clearly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, so it doesn't seem that the initiative would pass tests of constitutionality. Either way, the amendment proposal won't appear on the ballot in 2015 unless the group gets 107,216 certified signatures.

November 5, 2014

MDOC's Chris Epps Resigns; Agency Looks for Temp Commish

By R.L. Nave

Christopher Epps, the long-tenured commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections has resigned effective today.

The letter of resignation he submitted to Gov. Phil Bryant did not state a reason for the unexpected departure nor has MDOC made one public.

The Clarion-Ledger cites "multiple sources" who confirm the existence of a federal probe, but the newspaper does not specify whether Epps is the subject of the investigation.

Epps had been the longest serving prison chief in state history.

Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove first appointed Epps to lead the agency in 2002; two subsequent Republican governors, Haley Barbour and Phil Bryant, kept Epps in place.

MDOC is searching for an interim commissioner.

November 4, 2014

Let's Keep Abortion Safe, Legal for All Women.

By AnnaWolfe

What Rev. Joseph Dyer has done in his column published in The Clarion-Ledger today is suggest that white women, who he stresses are inherently more privileged, should have more rights than women of color. His column is called "Let's keep abortions safe, legal for white women," and he calls this proposal a "compromise."

"This compromise tells the children of black women that they are worthy, and desirable, and have been from the moment of their conception ... My compromise means that they will always know that their lives were protected, not just by their mother, but also by the law of the land," Dyer, pastor at St. Michael Parish in Forest, Miss., writes.

Leaving the option of abortion only up to white women, he says, tells white children "that the larger society was iffy about their value and worth at that time in their vulnerable lives."

He acknowledges that his "compromise" is horrible and racists, "but isn't that what compromise means, putting up with the disgusting to bring the nice a little closer?"

I assume the "nice a little closer" Dyer is referring to is the abolition of abortion for women of color. Only, Dyer seems oblivious to the fact that abortion is currently a right of all women in every state in the country (despite the fact that it is quickly being diminished by anti-abortion activist attempts).

To say that abortion should only be legal for white women is to say that abortion should be illegal for black women, which would only strengthen systematic oppression and racism against them. To "keep abortion safe, legal for (only) white women" is to make abortion dangerous for women of color.

Dyer says that his compromise will tell black children they are worthy, but instead it tells black women that they are not worthy of choosing when to become a mother and strips them of their autonomy.

October 28, 2014

Carroll Waller, Former Mississippi First Lady, Dies

By R.L. Nave

The following is a verbatim press release about the death of former First Lady Carroll Waller. She was the mother of Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller:

Former Mississippi First Lady Ava Carroll Overton Waller, 87, of Jackson, died Tuesday, October 28, at Manhattan Nursing Home after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, October 31, 2014, at First Baptist Church, Jackson. Visitation will be in the Fellowship Hall of the church from 11 a.m. until the funeral service that day.

Carroll Waller was the widow of former Mississippi Governor William L. (Bill) Waller. They were married for 61 years.

The former Mississippi First Lady leaves a legacy of historic preservation. She spearheaded efforts to restore the Governor’s Mansion. The executive residence, built in 1842, had fallen into such disrepair that former Gov. John Bell Williams and his family moved out in 1971. Gov. Waller was in office 1972-1976. During that time, Carroll Waller led efforts for the architecturally correct restoration of the Governor’s Mansion and the construction of the neoclassical gardens which surround the Mansion. Although the Waller family lived in the executive residence for only a few months, their efforts preserved the landmark for the enjoyment of future generations.

Carroll Waller spearheaded efforts to have the Mansion designated a National Historical Landmark, which was the second executive residence in the nation so designated. She also provided leadership for the purchase and restoration of the historic Manship House in Jackson. For these projects, she received an Award of Merit from the Mississippi Historical Society in 1980. Carroll and Dr. David Sansing co-authored the book The History of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, with the proceeds used for the upkeep of the Governor’s Mansion.

As First Lady, Carroll was also instrumental in securing passage of legislation which designated Mississippi’s state animal as the white-tailed deer; a state fish, the large-mouthed bass; a state water mammal, the porpoise; a state sea shell, the oyster; and a state water fowl, the wood duck. At her request, a beautiful red rose known as the Mississippi Rose was hybridized for the state. The Carroll Waller Camellia was hybridized especially for her. These and native plants of distinction are part of the landscape of the Mansion grounds.

She gave leadership to the creation of a learning resources system in the Department of Education, including provisions for the evaluation of all children suspected of having learning disabilities. She served as National Library Week chairman and sponsored the Mississippi Library Commission’s bicentennial project, the collecting of autographed books by Mississippi authors for the Mansion. She served as chairman for numerous organizations across the state. Her service included two five-year terms on the Mississippi Arts Commission, Keep Mississippi Beautiful Committee, Board of the Municipal Art Gallery, the Board of the Mississippi Historical Society, the Board of Bookfriends of the University Press, and Regent of the D.A.R. Rebecca ...

October 21, 2014 | 1 comment

'Black Genocide' Prophecy Coming True?

By AnnaWolfe

At a press conference at Mississippi's last abortion clinic last week, "stone the gays" Pastor James Manning told a group of mostly white protestors that McDonald's would cease to exist in three to seven years due to abortion.

His logic: abortion is a racist institution, abortion providers target black people and, as a result, companies that target black customers will begin to collapse due to the decreasing population of black people.

As absurd as it sounds, Manning might be going somewhere. A report released today shows that McDonald's has lost 30 percent of it's quarterly profit. Could Manning's prophecy be true?

We're not convinced.

One explanation for the loss in revenue is a major meat scandal in China—inspectors found that a Shanghai food supplier was selling expired meat to McDonald's this summer.

But people in China are not the only ones who are no longer "lovin' it." An emphasis on health has likely deterred people in United States—and all over world—from enjoying meals at the massive fast food chain.

McDonald's acknowledges a significant decrease in revenue in the United States, but not because of "black genocide"—which is what Manning calls abortion.

The chain has received negative publicity due to the poor wages of its workers. That and a push to chose healthier food options can be be blamed for the decrease in revenue.

Manning would likely say "that's what they want you to think." What do you think?

Stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis of the preacher's statements publishing tomorrow.

October 15, 2014

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Gives $2.3 Million to Civil Rights Museum

By AnnaWolfe

JACKSON, Mississippi – Building on its more than 40-year legacy in the state of Mississippi, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation today announced an endowment to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) in support of developing educational programs that will be operated by the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

The $2.3 million endowment from the Kellogg Foundation will fund a partnership between MDAH, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and the Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will educate Mississippians about the struggle for civil rights and provide a venue where visitors may come together to engage in meaningful public dialogue and programs that foster reconciliation and promote healing.

The museum endowment will fund numerous educational initiatives in the lead-up to and after the opening of the museum, including: · Summer teacher training programs and school workshops to prepare educators to teach an expanded civil rights curriculum and utilize the resources of the museum. · Digitizing important historical documents from the Evers collection to be housed at the museum for use by scholars, teachers and students. · Supporting the Medgar Wiley Evers Lecture Series throughout the state to engage communities in the museum’s programs.

“We’ve come to understand that racial equity and healing are essential if we are going to accomplish our mission to support children, families and communities in Mississippi,” said WKKF President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron. “The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will help us all take an honest look at the past in a state that was, in so many ways, the epicenter of this struggle in our county. It’s important to heal the wounds of the past, so that we can move forward together and put racism behind us for good.”

“We are thrilled that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation made this grant in honor of Myrlie Evers and Gov. William Winter, two leaders who have been instrumental in making the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum a reality,” said H.T. Holmes, director, MDAH. “We thank the Kellogg Foundation for making this extraordinary investment in Mississippi’s future and connecting the collections of MDAH with the people of Mississippi.”

Myrlie Evers said, “I can’t wait for the day that the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opens its doors to people from Mississippi and throughout the country and the world.” Gov. William F. Winter added that young people visiting the Civil Rights Museum will learn lessons of sacrifice, courage and determination that will help them make a difference in Mississippi and the world.

Mississippi is one of four priority places in the United States for the foundation – along with the city of New Orleans and the states of Michigan and New Mexico. The foundation’s endowment to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum comes one year after the foundation committed grants to 25 organizations across the state whose work focuses on setting Mississippi’s young men of color on a path to success. That $3.8 million initiative is designed to help young men of color in ...

October 9, 2014

Rep. Andy Gipson Caves on Gay Marriage; Our Work Here is Done.

By R.L. Nave

Twice this week the unthinkable has happened in Mississippi.

First, Ole Miss rallies back and upsets the Crimson Tide.

Now, Republican state Rep. Andy Gipson is acceding on the issue of marriage equality.

Gipson, a Baptist minister and attorney from Braxton, told the Clarion-Ledger for a story today: "I am opposed to same-sex marriage, but I believe the time has come for people of faith in Mississippi to prepare for the overturning of our constitutional ban on it."

Gipson is one of the Legislature's most conservative members, having introduced legislation in recent years aimed at undocumented immigrants and abortion rights—including a (successful) fetal heartbeat bill and a (successful) 20-week abortion ban.

In 2012, Gipson came under fire for referencing Bible passages implying that gay people be put to death. The remarks came in response to President Barack Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage after years of waffling on the question. Gipson called same-sex marriage "horrific social policy," adding:

"Unnatural behavior which results in disease, not the least of which is its high association with the development and spread of HIV/AIDS; 2) Confusing behavior which is harmful to children who have a deep need to understand the proper role of men and women in society and the important differences between men and women, and fathers and mothers; and 3) Undermines the longstanding definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, a definition which has been key to all aspects of social order and prosperity."

Gipson isn't exactly endorsing marriage equality, but the fact that he appears to be telling fellow evangelical conservatives to save their energy fighting gay marriage.

Calling recent federal court decisions affirming gay marriage "the writing on the wall," Gipson said:

“It’s coming. People of religious conviction need to be processing what this means for the culture, and how we will respond to these issues in coming years – how we will maintain our religious convictions in this environment.”

Of course, Gipson is absolutely correct. More people today support marriage equality than don't; this is especially true of young people.

Through a news release, Rob Hill, the Mississippi state director of the Human Rights Campaign and a former pastor said: “Like Rep. Gipson, I am a person of faith, and our faith teaches that we are all God’s children. We also believe in the Golden Rule, to treat others as we would treat ourselves. ... These conversations are not easy and we welcome the opportunity to meet with Rep. Gipson to discuss ways to make our state inclusive for all Mississippians.”

October 6, 2014 | 1 comment

Dem U.S. Senate Hopeful Travis Childers Defends Anti-Amnesty Pledge

By R.L. Nave

Last week, former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers became the first Democratic congressional candidate to sign a pledge to protect American workers.

The move brought criticism from some Democratic-leaning not so much because of his stance against amnesty for undocumented people—a position he has held going back to his days in the U.S. House of Representatives—but because of the reputation of the organization behind the pledge, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Because of FAIR's advocacy of limiting immigration into the U.S., some civil-rights organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have called FAIR extremist and racist.

In a release to news media this afternoon Childers defended position on amnesty, saying:

“As I travel the state of Mississippi, I try to listen to people more than I talk. I ask Mississippians about the issues that are important to them, and I believe it's equally important for me to provide them with answers on where I stand and how I would vote if elected to the U.S. Senate. In every town I visit, voters continue to voice their serious concerns over high unemployment and the lack of job opportunities in our state and want to know where I stand on closing the gap. I continue to believe that Mississippians would be well served by hearing both candidates debate these tough issues, but in the absence of agreement on a public debate from Thad Cochran, I'll continue to explain my positions on the issues."

"Today, Mississippi’s unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the nation. Until we get Mississippians back to work, I can neither support legislation that would grant work authorization or amnesty to people that came here illegally nor can I support increases in guest foreign workers — many of whom accept work at sub-standard wages. There are too many corporations in our state and across the nation who are hiring illegal immigrants and guest workers instead of providing unemployed Mississippians with opportunities to perform hard work at a decent wage. Washington insiders backing Senator Cochran argue that these corporations just can’t find Mississippians willing to do the hard work. However, I know that if the jobs are actually offered to Mississippians and provide livable wages, the people of our state would readily accept the work and do it proudly."

October 6, 2014

SCOTUS Action Spurs LGBT Activists in Mississippi

By R.L. Nave

The Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement on today's U.S. Supreme Court decision declining to hear several marriage equality cases before the court:

HRC Mississippi committed to advancing fairness and ensuring justice across Mississippi

WASHINGTON, DC—Today’s Supreme Court action provides momentum for equality work across Mississippi, and reinforces the need for protections in housing, employment and public accommodations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Mississippians. The Supreme Court made history—bringing final marriage victories to five states and paving the way for possibly six more. But although marriage equality is now the law of the land in 24 states, today’s victory didn’t extent to LGBT Mississippians.

“Any time same-sex couples are extended marriage equality is something to celebrate, and today is a joyous day for thousands across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action," said HRC Mississippi Director Rob Hill. "But this news is an unfortunate reminder that LGBT Mississippians still lack basic legal protections against discrimination, and cannot legally marry the person they love in the place they call home.”

LGBT Mississippians are just as worthy of full legal equality as folks living elsewhere across the country, and they should be given the same dignity and respect. It is for this reason that HRC remains fully committed to creating one America for LGBT people, united under a single banner of fairness.

HRC Mississippi is working to advance equality for LGBT Mississippians who have no protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; legal state recognition for their relationships and families; state rights to jointly adopt children; and state protections from hate crimes. Through HRC Mississippi, we are working toward a future of fairness every day--changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

September 25, 2014

NPR: Eric Holder to Announce Resignation

By R.L. Nave

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is stepping down, National Public Radio is reporting.

Holder is the nation's first African American AG and one of the longest-tenured members of first-black-President Barack Obama's cabinet.

According to NPR: "Two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR that Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed, a process that could run through 2014 and even into next year. A former U.S. government official says Holder has been increasingly "adamant" about his desire to leave soon for fear he otherwise could be locked in to stay for much of the rest of President Obama's second term."

Holder shepherded the USDOJ through rocky times and made civil-rights enforcement a hallmark of his tenure.

Under Holder, several issues and cases out of Mississippi garnered national prominence.

In March 2012, Deryl Dedmon and two co-conspirators from Rankin County became the first individuals charged under a 2009 federal hate-crime law for the murder of James Craig Anderson, a black man from Jackson.

The case of Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder challenged the federal Voting Rights Act, which required a number of states that had histories with racial discrimination in voting. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby cleared the way for several states, including Mississippi, to implement voter-ID laws.

Civil-rights groups had argued, and Holder agreed, that voter ID represented an unconstitutional barrier to exercising voting rights. Mississippi's voter ID law, designed to stop election fraud, was first used in the June 2014 U.S. Senate primary, which resulted in multiple allegations of vote fraud that have yet to be resolved.


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