A coalition of Mississippi civil rights groups concerned about anti-discrimination issues will be meeting with concerned citizens around the state. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports on the group’s first town hall, held last night in Biloxi.
About 45 people attended the meeting. Erik Fleming with the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi says the community conversation effort is being organized by We Are All Mississippi, a coalition of about 20 groups, including the ACLU.
"This coalition was formed to push legislation to create a Mississippi Civil Rights Act," he says. "Because of the actions of the Mississippi legislature this past session, we have to address some other things - like the fact that we didn't change the state flag and the fact that we have to deal with House Bill 1523 and other things."
A representative for the Flag for All Mississippians coalition discussed that group’s efforts to get a ballot initiative in 2018 to permanently remove any reference to the confederacy from the state flag. Natt Offiah with the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition spoke about the group’s concerns about HB 1523 and urged people to get involved.
"We're all Mississippians, and if something affects one of us, it affects all of us," Offiah says. "If it affects the least of us, it affects all of us. And we're hoping to move people to action, to see that, you know, I may not be queer, I may not be trans, but my neighbor is. But my son's best friend is. And we have to fight for the least of us if any of us are going to be free."
Nine more town halls are planned around the state, including tomorrow in Hattiesburg and next week in Natchez. See below for a list of confirmed and pending dates.
Confirmed Town Hall Meetings (as of 5-4-16)
May 10, 2016 – Biloxi
Steps Coalition, 610 Water Street
May 12, 2016 – Hattiesburg
CE Roy Center, 300 E. 5th Street
May 16, 2016 – Natchez
Council Chamber, 115 S. Pearl Street
May 24, 2016 – Holly Springs
Rust College Beckley Center, 155 Rust Ave.
May 26, 2016 - Greenville
Washington Co. Library, 341 Main Street
June 7, 2016 - Meridian
East MS Power Assn, 2128 Hwy 39
Pending: McComb, Tupelo, Columbus, Jackson