Uncategorized

150 150 Ayana Kinnel

MS NAACP NEWS

MS NAACP OPPOSES NCAA HOSTING GAME IN THE STATE

In 2015, the South Carolina legislature voted to remove and change the state flag because it bore a well-known symbol of the Confederacy. At the time, the NCAA strongly supported the action with NCAA President Mark Emmert specifically stating that, “As a national association, the NCAA opposes this symbol of racism, and since 2001 we have demonstrated our opposition by not playing selected championships in states where the confederate flag was flown prominently.”  Today, the State of Mississippi’s official state flag continues to display the confederate symbol.

Mississippi NAACP is requesting the NCAA continue its opposition to symbols of racial hatred and expand its ban to all NCAA sanctioned events and relocate the Softball Regional Tournament at the University of Mississippi on Friday, May 19, 2017.

“A ban on ‘NCAA postseason events that are not pre-selected’ is not enough,” says Derrick Johnson, Mississippi State President, “It is not enough to oppose symbols of racism for basketball and golf then conspicuously ignore that same racism for baseball or softball regionals.”

Johnson continues, “If the NCAA truly oppose states where the confederate flag is flown prominently then they must oppose it in all instances were symbols of racism are prevalent.”

150 150 Ayana Kinnel

Cold as ICE: A Massive Push for Deportation

March 5, 2017 – United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are loose and swarming the nation, conducting raids and deportations under the marching orders of President Donald Trump.

Daniela Vargas speaks to reporters in Jackson, Miss., on March 1, 2017. A short time after the news conference, immigration enforcement agents detained the young “Dreamer.” (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

In Mississippi, ICE officials partnering with law officers from other state agencies arrested 55 people late last month while executing federal criminal search warrants at eight different restaurants in Flowood, Meridian, and Pearl. Spokespeople for ICE claimed they were hunting criminal aliens and gang members, although the agency appears to happily target non-criminals who are the friends and family of suspects, according to Bill Chandler, head of the Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance (MIRA), in Jackson.

Last month Chandler said he got a call that ICE was conducting a raid on the home of Argentinian immigrants Daniel Vargas and his son Alan Vargas. Agents grabbed the two outside their home and arrested them as they were getting ready for work. When officials discovered that Vargas’ 22-year-old daughter Daniela Vargas was inside the house they demanded entrance, but Daniela Vargas was smart enough to refuse.

“We believe they were after Alan, but when they go into a house and find other people they typically shake them down too,” said Chandler. “That’s what they did with her father, who had no arrests and no convictions.”

The young woman called relatives to rescue her before ICE agents returned with a warrant, but relatives noticed the agents skulking around her property, waiting to pounce. After getting a warrant, agents tore through the door and hand-cuffed the daughter that day, but Daniela Vargas’ DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status temporarily protected her from immediate arrest and deportation.

Agents temporarily released Vargas, who had been attending classes at USM before dropping out to save up for tuition. Agents allegedly told her that they were “not going to take you now, but we’re going to come back for you later.”

ICE agents did indeed grab Vargas later, March 1, after she attended a news conference advocating on behalf of other DACA youth caught up the nation’s new war on immigrants. Vargas’ attorney, Abby Peterson, said Vargas’ DACA status expired three months ago, and that she was unable to save up for the $495 application fee. Authorities detained her at an ICE holding facility in Louisiana, but released her a few days later after widespread public outcry.

Agents’ increasingly aggressive tactics are also interfering with the nation’s judicial system. The chief justice of California’s Supreme Court recently demanded that agents stop “stalking” local courthouses, trying to snatch immigrants who were testifying in court cases. MIRA claims ICE agents have been eager to conduct mass deportations against brown immigrants for years, but that the Obama administration had “yanked the leash” and kept agents civilized. The new, more blatantly racist president, however, appears to support mass deportations.

President Trump recently ordered federal officials to hunt, detain, and deport undocumented residents, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes. The president seeks to strip some immigrants of privacy protections and draft local law enforcement as additional soldiers. He also intends to build new detention facilities and discourage asylum. Trump lauded recent nationwide immigration raids as a “military operation.”

“We’re getting gang members out, we’re getting drug lords out, we’re getting really bad dudes out of this country — and at a rate that nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump told reporters.

Those bad dudes apparently include people like Daniel Vargas, who has no known criminal record, as well as more than 50 restaurant workers cooking food and cleaning tables in Jackson metro restaurants.

White Mississippi leaders are only too happy to praise the effort. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant joined 26 other states in a 2015 lawsuit against former President Barack Obama’s order protecting millions of undocumented immigrants from immediate deportation.

The crackdown on immigrants could put an additional crack in the nation’s economy, if the mass deportations impact businesses dependent upon low-wage immigrant labor, such as restaurants, and the food processing and agricultural sectors. Immigrant labor comprises a disproportionate percentage of manual work in poultry plants in neighboring Scott County, as well as a significant portion of manual labor on local food farms. Significant raids on poultry plants or the farming industry could trigger an explosion in food prices.

A year without immigrants could do more than leave food rotting on the vine, however. Inflation-adjusted economic growth for the past decade has been a flat 2 percent, and independent economic projections for the next decade are just as soggy, with the Federal Reserve, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and others expecting annual growth of only 1.8 to 1.9 percent. This is due, in part, to the nation’s aging population. Immigrants coming to the nation are comparatively younger than the native population, however, and will reliably generate a taxable paycheck over the next two decades, at least. This marks a stark contrast to the aging, white population that is either close to retirement or already retired and generating little revenue—the same population that, according to polls, is more likely to oppose a pathway to citizenship.

 

150 150 Ayana Kinnel

March on Mississippi

P1050381

Canton, MS – March on Mississippi March 4,2017

 

March 8, 2017 – Under the industrial din of conveyor belts and humming machinery a lone figure will collapse. He will fall to the floor never to get up again. He will lay there unattended by medical personnel and, after a long, empty time, he will die. He will die there on the floor of the plant, his fellow workers and friends looking on from their stations with impotent fury. He will die there, but the assembly lines will not take notice and they will not stop.

This is not a tale of fiction. It is what happened on September 22, 2015 to Derrick Whiting, a Canton Nissan factory worker. It happened to him and it will happen again if Nissan does not change how it treats its workers. It will keep happening if Nissan’s workers are not given a voice.

On Saturday, March 4th these workers raised their voices and, buoyed by a choir of community, religious, and national leaders, these Mississippians marched to make their voices heard.

P1050353

MS NAACP President Derrick Johnson, UAW Nissan Campaign Lead Organizer Sanchioni Butler marching to support Canton Nissan workers.

United States Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Bennie Thompson, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, Actor Danny Glover, NAACP National President Cornell Brooks, One Voice, the MS State Conference NAACP, the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the General Missionary Baptist Convention, ACLU of MS, the MS Low-Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI), the United Auto Workers (UAW), and many many more joined Nissan workers, local officials, civic organizations, church groups, and a wealth of other engaged community members marched in Canton to protest the campaign of intimidation Nissan has waged against their workers in retaliation to their desire to form a union to protect their lives and interests.

This is despite the fact the facility in Canton is one of two Nissan plants in the United States that does not have a union. In fact, all other Nissan plants across the globe are unionized. Our state laws discourage the formation of unions which proved to be one of the main reasons Nissan chose to build their facility in Mississippi.

As a right-to-work state, Mississippi is apathetic to workers and downright hostile to unions. The result is a state that creates a safe haven for businesses that thrive on the exploitation of its work force.

The Nissan plant in Canton is a fine example of this brand of corporate callousness.

There are those that say that Worker’s Rights are not the same as Civil Rights. However, many would find that position untenable when they discover that the workers at Nissan have been suffering under the corporate yoke of predatory car leasing, volatile and inconsistent work schedules, and eternal temporary employment status despite promises to the contrary. The effect of which has left its workforce in a perpetual state of economic insecurity and employment vulnerability. This is in addition to the physically hazardous environment endured by the workers. The facility at Nissan has been cited and fined for numerous and repeated OSHA violations since its opening. In that time, workers have been injured and workers have died. All because of Nissan’s established disregard for its workers’ basic human right, their Civil Right, to work in the safest environment possible and to be able to speak freely against substandard treatment without fear of retribution. Acknowledging this, the French Parliament spoke out, as a shareholder, against Nissan’s treatment of its workers on its 2016 visit to Mississippi.

And when workers began talking of their desire to form a union to protect their rights and their interests, Nissan actively moved to opposed them, routinely engaging in acts of intimidation and retaliation against its workers including a closed circuit broadcast of an anti-march commercial shown to all workers to discourage their participation.

It did not have the desired effect.

P1050347

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks stands with Canton Nissan workers.

Some will point out that Nissan brings millions of dollars to the State, but that doesn’t make what it does to its employees right. It only makes it profitable.
As a last ditch effort, on the day of the March, Nissan sought to disrupt their workers’ attempt to organize by closing the plant in the hopes that, desperate for a day off after excessively long schedules, workers would stay home and not stand against them.

As it turned out, Nissan was wrong.

Saturday’s March on Mississippi happened because our families, our neighbors, and our friends, the workers at Canton Nissan are being mistreated and abused by a plant that puts profits before people.

They deserve better. Mississippi deserves to BE better.

The alternative is a state that offers nearly unlimited power for employers, and little to no protection for employees, tax exemptions for businesses, and lack of job security for workers. The alternative is a state where an employer can fire an employee at any time for any reason (excluding the few federally protected classes), but an employee isn’t guaranteed equal wages for his or her equal work. The alternative is a state boasting lower wages overall and a greater gender-wage disparity than the national numbers as right-to-work states, like Mississippi, earn on average 3.1% lower wages than their non-right-to-work counterparts.

The alternative is a state were women still only earn 77% the income of males for the same work and African American women earn even less at an average 55% that of white males.

All Mississippians deserve to work in a state were both their labor and their rights as people are valued.

Today the fight is with Nissan, but the mistreatment of any one of us is a mistreatment of all of us. And the fact of the matter is WE DESERVE BETTER.

360 360 Deante Morgan

Protect the Vote Re-Launches Toll-Free Voter Protection Number

2015/11/02 –

November 2, 2015 – Jackson, MS – As the countdown to the November 3rd election nears, a non-partisan coalition is reviving a statewide election protection program to assist voters with this year’s process. Mississippi Election Protection is a program designed to educate voters and volunteers about voting rights in Mississippi. The program includes a toll-free number, 1-888-601-VOTE (8683), staffed by legal professionals and community volunteers on November 3rd to field questions and provide legal assistance for resolving any election-day problems.

 

“We’re encouraging every eligible individual to cast their one vote. It’s our job to make sure it counts,” said Derrick Johnson, President of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. “We anticipate an all-time high number of first-time voters in Mississippi. Historically, however, there have been attempts to undermine the rights of eligible voters. We want every Mississippian to be confident about their constitutional right to vote when they go out to cast their ballots. The toll-free number will be a great resource for anyone who has questions or encounters problems on Election Day.”

 

The coalition is organizing training sessions for volunteers to participate in this program. If you are interested in getting involved in this non-partisan effort, call Nsombi Lambright at 601-573-3978 or via email at nlambright@uniteonevoice.org.

 

Election Protection is an initiative of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP in partnership with the ACLU of Mississippi, Magnolia Bar Association, Mississippi Association for Justice, Mississippi Center for Justice and One Voice.

 

###

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. For more information about the Mississippi NAACP or news stories, call 601-353-8452 or log on to www.naacpms.org. Like us on Facebook by searching Mississippi NAACP and follow us on Twitter @MSNAACP.

Source: NAACP Writers

 

1024 640 Deante Morgan

Nonprofits Commemorate 10 Year Katrina Anniversary

2015/08/27 –

JACKSON, MS: As Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery dollars flowed into the state, several nonprofit organizations joined forces to prevent Mississippi’s well-established pattern of making federal programs difficult to access for low-income people.  Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE), the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ), Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP (MS NAACP), and One Voice leveraged the unique capabilities of each organization to make the recovery effort more inclusive.

 

The initial housing recovery programs developed by the state contained glaring gaps that rendered the programs ineffective for low-income homeowners.  The gaps were largely created when the federal government granted waivers, requested by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, to provisions that required that a portion of the recovery funds be designated to low- and moderate-income individuals. “Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, should have easily been able to comply, but it was the only state to be excused from spending at least half of the funds so as to benefit persons of low and moderate income” said Reilly Morse, President of the Mississippi Center for Justice.

 

The first phase of Mississippi’s housing recovery plan called for the state to award up to $150,000 to homeowners with property insurance on homes that received flood damage that were not located in a flood zone.  The structure of the program had the consequence of excluding many low-income households and communities of color.  Morse continued “By requiring that applicants have homeowner’s insurance and excluding those whose damage was caused by windstorm, Mississippi’s most generous program favored relatively wealthier homeowners by a factor of two to one and left out back of town African American households who were less likely to carry insurance.”

 

When the state proposed a second phase to target families left out of the first plan, the recovery policies remained inequitable, as the program only provided up to $50,000 for households that had the same type of damage as the households that were supported under the first phase but that did not have property insurance.

 

Aided by grants from national philanthropy, HOPE, MCJ, MS NAACP, and One Voice executed a strategy to change the unequal treatment of low-income households in the recovery’s implementation.  “Although the damage caused by Katrina didn’t discriminate based on income or race, Mississippi’s recovery efforts did and we had to act to ensure the most vulnerable communities were not ignored” stated Derrick Johnson, State President of Mississippi NAACP.

 

Working closely with local nonprofits on the Gulf Coast, the MS NAACP gathered information to contextualize the gaps in overlooked communities.  MCJ used this information to implement an external communications strategy that highlighted the inequities in the program and put pressure on the governor’s office.  HOPE analyzed the effects of the policy’s shortfalls and worked with its contacts in the Barbour administration to help design an expansion of the program.

 

As a result of the nonprofit community’s advocacy, the damage award cap for the second phase of the recovery was increased from $50,000 to $100,000.   The victory paved the way for future collaboration that proved to be pivotal in the expansion of the recovery resources accessible to low-income households.  HOPE managed the financial counseling component of the second phase of the housing program that assisted approximately 9,000 households.  The counseling program helped families identify every resource available for rebuilding and ultimately connected participants to $600 million.  “The success of the counseling program demonstrates for policy makers the importance of working with intermediaries that have the capacity to conduct high quality policy analyses that are grounded in experience” said Bill Bynum, Chief Executive Officer, HOPE.

 

The Mississippi Center for Justice and the MS NAACP also filed a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the diversion of disaster recovery monies away from housing and towards the expansion of the Port of Gulfport.  Ultimately, the lawsuit was settled out of court for a $132 million program targeted towards low-income storm victims, which grew to $212 million by 2015.

 

The outcomes underscored two important lessons.  First, in the absence of a coordinated advocacy effort to include low-income individuals and communities in the recovery plan – historically underserved populations will be excluded.  Second, the decision by philanthropy to invest in the capacity of a group of high performing nonprofits proved to be critical in making the recovery programs more inclusive.  As a financial intermediary, HOPE brought the ability to analyze data, navigate the federal bureaucracy and propose programs that were structured to maximize the ability of low-income populations to return and rebuild.  MCJ brought invaluable legal services and communications capacity to the partnership.  Finally, MS NAACP leveraged its sophisticated network of contacts on the ground coupled with local, state, and national policy makers to provide local intelligence to inform the overall effort.  By leveraging the assets of each, trusting each other and working together, the nonprofit organizations successfully made the recovery much more accessible than originally designed.

 

 

 

 

About HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union)

HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union) is a community development financial institution, community development intermediary and policy center that provides affordable financial services; leverages private, public and philanthropic resources; and engages in policy analysis in order to fulfill its mission of strengthening communities, building assets, and improving lives in economically distressed parts of the Mid South.

 

Since 1994, HOPE has generated over $2 billion in financing and related services for the unbanked and underbanked, entrepreneurs, homeowners, nonprofit organizations, health care providers and other community development purposes.  Collectively, these projects have benefitted more than 650,000 individuals throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

 

About Mississippi Center for Justice

 

Mississippi Center for Justice is a nonprofit, public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice. Supported and staffed by attorneys and other professionals, the Center develops and pursues strategies to combat discrimination and poverty statewide. With offices in Jackson, Biloxi, and Indianola, the Center provides civil legal aid and advocacy in housing, fair credit, health care access, and education.

 

About Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP

 

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.  Mississippi State Conference consists of 112 units, which include local branches, college chapters, and youth councils with over 15,000 members across the state.  For more information about the Mississippi NAACP or news stories, call 601-353-8452 or log on to www.naacpms.orghttp://www.naacpms.org.  Like us on Facebook by searching Mississippi NAACP and follow us on Twitter @MSNAACP.

 

About One Voice

 

One Voice, formally known as the Community Policy, Research & Training Institute (CPRTI), grew out of the work undertaken by the Mississippi State Conference NAACP in response to housing, education, civil rights, and related policy advocacy needs facing historically disadvantaged communities in the wake of the 2005 hurricanes. That work revealed significant needs in the non-profit sector. One such need was access to current and relevant data needed to do policy analysis. Another was a need for connections between trained and networked community leadership, and non-partisan, community-based structures through which broad public involvement could be organized and sustained. One Voice, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was formed to bridge these gaps. Through collaborative efforts with traditional and non-traditional allies, One Voice has played a pivotal role in building alliances that transcend organizational and racial boundaries.  Our partners and supporters are committed to building a strong, informed electorate that rejects polarization and seeks to improve the lives of Mississippi residents across the state.

 

Source: NAACP Writers