Buzz: FREEDOM IS JUST ANOTHER WORD | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS



News came Monday that The Associated Press and the Hattiesburg American are suing the U.S. Marshals Service for seizing and erasing journalists' tape recordings of a peech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to high school students in Hattiesburg. The news organizations filed the lawsuit in federal court in Jackson. "It's been more than a month since this happened, and we're still angry about it," said Dave Tomlin, AP assistant general counsel said in a report by his wire service. "People who enforce the law should know what the law is, and especially the basic law that says citizens can't be shaken down by their own government.'"

Another breaking story Monday revealed that the U.S. Justice Department is re-opening a case to investigate the nearly 50-year-old murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, the Chicago teen apparently killed by two white men while visiting Money. Despite overwhelming evidence of the their guilt, they were acquitted by an all-white jury. Now two documentaries have turned up new evidence. Keith Beauchamp, 32, a black filmmaker from New York City was in Jackson recently to show his film about Till, made with the assistance of Emmett's now-deceased mother, Mamie Till Mobley. Beauchamp believes that at least five people are still living who were involved in the case in some way. The U.S. government is going to investigate those claims. "We owe it to Emmett Till, we owe it to his mother and to his family, and we owe it to ourselves to see if, after all these years, any additional measure of justice is still possible," R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department, said in the announcement.

The "Without Sanctuary" lynching photography exhibit at Jackson State is attracting national attention—in part because it's on display in Mississippi, the state known for being the site of more lynchings than another other state. Exhibit organizer and JSU professor Monique Guillory was featured on NPR's "Weekend Edition" in a lengthy interview with Scott Simon in which she walked and talked him through the exhibit. Jesse Pennington, 65, a former Jackson State professor and an attorney who was nearly lynched in 1954, was also featured.

The National Conference of Black Lawyers is asking people to lend their support to controversial attorney Chokwe Lumumba in a bar complaint where Judge Robert H. Walker is threatening to disbar him. Lumumba, who is known for his work in the community and with political defendants, just got out of jail on contempt charges after loudly challenging Walker on what he believed was unfair treatment of his client. He is the co-founder of the New Afrikan People's Organization and founded the Malcolm X center for youths in Jackson.

It's just about report card time for students across the state. And we all know what some members of our miserable Legislature have seen fit to do for those students—and their teachers—given the binding constrictions of our miserable governor and politics within their own ranks—not just the budget or incoming monies as all of them would have us believe. The U. S. Supreme Court addressed the importance of public education in their Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, saying that public education "is the very foundation of good citizenship … it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." Underfunding education in Mississippi to the tune of $44 million less than for 2003-2004 is not the way the state can successfully ensure that students make the grade.

Speaking of report cards, on May 6 Jacksonians had the chance to grade the Legislature. An online poll on WLBT TV3's Web site asked: "How would you grade the Legislature's performance during the 2004 Legislative session?" When we cast our failing vote, the results were revealed: A - 4%, B - 3%, C - 9%, D - 23%, F - 61%. Perhaps the politicos in the Capitol (from the top on down to the newest-elected) knew they were failing, so they decided they needed some company. Put that in your jet airplane and fly it, Mr. Barbour.

It's nigh-official: House Bill 1780, the Motion Picture Incentive Act, has won unanimous endorsement from both houses of the state Legislature and now needs only a signature from Gov. Haley Barbour to take effect in July. The Motion Picture Incentive Act gives companies making films in Mississippi a 10 percent tax credit for local payroll and a 10 percent tax rebate for local expenditures; it also expands the sales tax exemption on materials (like film stock and building supplies) used in the filmmaking process, along with lowering the sales tax on certain types of filmmaking equipment from 7 percent to 1 percent.

THE RAP WORDS: Famous rappers like Mississippi's David Banner are among the celebrities that are entering their works for the sequel to the best-selling book "The Right Words at the Right Time." The Simon and Schuster inspirational book is a collection of short stories that features submissions from people from "all walks of life." Though the last edition featured words from Jay Leno and Steven Spielberg, the publishers will spotlight non-celebrities as well. The stories (550 - 1,500 words) can be submitted through or can be sent in by mail. The deadline for submissions is May 16. Proceeds from the sales of the book will go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which was founded by Thomas' father in 1962.

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