JACKSONIAN Grace MacMaster
s a senior in high school in Zeeland, Mich., Grace MacMaster entered a program at Careerline Tech Center, allowing her to attend a graphic-design and visual communications class for half the school day. There, she learned how to successfully communicate through graphic design. In 2011, MacMaster entered a nationwide contest called Doodle 4 Google, where Google provides a theme with which gradeschool contestants build a Google logo design. The theme that year was “What I Would Like to Do Someday,” and MacMaster focused her design around seeing the Seven Wonders of the World. She placed in the top 40 regional finalists out of about 107,000 entries, and her work, along with those of the other finalists, was displayed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Ontario, Canada, native now attends Belhaven University and plans to graduate with a graphic-design degree in December. But graphic design is not her first passion. MacMaster, now 20, initially enrolled at Belhaven as a violin performance major, which she continued with only for one semester. “I didn’t want music to become a chore,” she says. “I found that I want to be able to play the music because I love it, not for a grade.” When MacMaster made the transition between majors, she was also considering what she would need to be successful in life.
“I thought that (a career in) graphic design would allow me to be able to do music because I enjoy it, instead of the stress of having to make my entire living off it,” she says. “With what I hope to do with music, I don’t know if I need to (major in it).” Besides, the classical style of playing that Belhaven focuses on doesn’t exactly mesh with what MacMaster does. When she was 9 years old, she started playing the fiddle and taking classical lessons. “I always knew that I wanted to focus on the Cape Breton fiddling style,” she says. Her grandfather, Alexander H. MacMaster, was from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. “They have a really strong musical culture there that’s very distinct.” When MacMaster came to Jackson for college, she didn’t think she’d find outlets for fiddling. While here, however, she has played at Fenian’s Pub several times, and she performed at CelticFest in 2013. MacMaster hasn’t decided what she’ll do or where she’ll go after graduation, but she is considering doing freelance design work or finding an agency to work with. “I have a real interest in illustration and combining it with design, so (I would like) to develop that further,” MacMaster says. She already does a lot of illustration, and often adds hand-drawn elements to her digital work. She also has hopes of releasing an album of fiddle music. —Briana Robinson
Cover design by Jesse Flowers
6 The Mudslingin’ Begins?
As the Jackson mayor’s race goes into high gear, automated robocalls are popping up discouraging candidate Margaret Barrett-Simon, among others.
31 Costumes, Color and Charity
It’s spring, and that means it’s race season. Check out the upcoming themed and for-charity 5Ks and fun runs hitting Jackson over the next few months.
37 Through the Lens
“I like portraits because I like interacting with people and capturing and looking at people’s emotions. One of the reasons I love photographing in the South—like Jackson, the Delta and New Orleans—is the people. The people are what make up these areas and places.” —James Patterson, “A Photographer’s Eye”
4 ............................. Editor’s Note 6 ............................................ Talks 14 ................................. editorial 15 ..................................... opinion 16 ............................. Cover Story 22 ......................................... GOOD 29 ...................... Zippity Doo Dah 31 .................................. Wellness 33 ................................ Parenting 33 .................... Girl About Town 34 .......................................... Food 37 ............................... Diversions 38 ........................................ 8 Days 40 ................................ JFP Events 42 ........................................ music 44 ...................................... sports 47 ..................................... Puzzles 49 ........................................ astro
trip burns; Trip Burns ; trip burns
March 19 - 25, 2014 | Vol. 12 No. 28
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Proud to Be the Boss
had just finished giving an Overby talk on doing powerful journalism at Ole Miss when several young women stuck around to meet me. One was a short brunette woman who shook my hand enthusiastically and told me that she was “inspired” by my comments—which had been straight talk about the media business, corporate-media competition, and our mission to embrace and encourage diversity. Another was a tall student with long, straight blonde hair who reminded me of myself in younger years. She firmly shook my hand, looked me straight in the eye and told me a bit about herself and how she’d like to get involved with the JFP in the future. I saw immediately that these were young women with the confidence and passion to be leaders, hopefully in doing meaningful journalism. Mission accomplished. Before my lecture, I had tagged along with my partner Todd as he gave a talk to a digital-marketing class. It so happened that the entire class was female, except for one guy who had to leave early. They seemed focused and attentive. But at one point, expecting to see every hand go up, I asked them how many hoped to own their own business one day. None of the women raised a hand. I was stunned. As a woman who became my own boss in no small part due to the sexism I encountered while working for other people, I know what lies ahead for many of them as they try to become leaders in their fields, if they even choose to. Here’s what could happen based on my personal experiences. If she openly shows ambition and tries to climb in her field, she will be called selfish, and God help her if she decides to delay or forego having children in order to devote herself to her calling. When she starts managing other people, many men and women will act differently toward her instructions and feedback than if she were male. She may well be called a “ball buster”
or a “bully” because she responds decisively, including to an employee talking to her abusively because he or she doesn’t like to be criticized (especially by a woman). If she chooses to be direct and unapologetic about her management role—as men tend to be—she will be called aggressive at best and, often, a “bitch.” I had three male bosses in New York City who called me a lesbian to another male editor who sat next to me (and who often pointed out how they
We wonder why those girls have tiny, fearful voices. treated me completely differently than him). Some male and female employees will decide she is unlikeable and “difficult” simply because she is a woman in charge. (See Heidi/Howard, page 22.) She will often be interrupted in meetings, and if she serves on a board, the chairman may cut her off long before the males. She may also have to endure dirty jokes or even be asked to go to a fellow board member’s room to watch porn with him as one of my fellow board members, a powerful publisher, was at a convention we attended. She may also fly across the country to interview for an editor’s job and have the male interviewer try to get her to spend the night with him. If she has the courage to express her opinion in public, she will be called stupid and maybe a slut or a c*nt, and comments about her body will replace intelligent responses to her remarks. If she’s really lucky, some blogger might post a drawing of
her with a leash around her long-time partner’s neck because, you know, he must be “whipped” to put up with her kind. People will, inevitably, lie about her. And, perhaps my favorite, if she talks or writes publicly about all these sexist responses to her, she will be labeled bitter and angry. See how this cycle works? The truth is that I’m not bitter or anger about the misogynistic garbage directed toward me. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t need anyone’s permission to speak my mind or run a good publication with high standards. I have studied the research on gender-based double standards, and I’m Teflon about it at this point. (My mantra: “Excellent work is the best response.”) But I do worry about our young women and the messages they are getting—even now in 2014. I hate it when I speak to a class and the young women don’t have the confidence to weigh in and ask questions. (Women will often wait around after class, instead, especially in classrooms where males tend to dominate, often with the help of teachers who call on them more.) I remember well not having the confidence to speak up in a class or weighing everything I was going to say before I said it. And I know how much that fear limits female potential. I’m also saddened when girls use tiny little voices you can hardly hear and their handshakes are so meek that you can barely feel them. And it does make me angry that, here in Mississippi, people (and candidates) frequent and even advertise on websites that use violent language toward women (like one blogger who said he hoped a powerful female attorney’s breast implants would explode—not that she had breast implants, mind you). So, what else will they support? It’s also extremely not cool that most other media outlets in Mississippi tend to have female columnists write about entertainment and being a mother, and allow
their male staffers to write (often poorly) about politics and policy. And we wonder why so many girls have tiny, fearful voices? They are being robbed of opportunities by our culture and our gender bias—and our community plays along. I applaud Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg for using her success and platform to draw attention to the cultural attempts to keep women in our places. Her book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” and now her #banbossy campaign to get people to stop criticizing girls for being “too bossy” (see page 22) are needed calls to action to get women and men alike to pay attention to what our society is still doing to our girls: limiting their potential. Ironically, much of the response to Sandberg proves her point. She, along with supporters like Beyoncé, are slammed (including by women) for their “stupid” efforts; these people clearly haven’t spent any time on the banbossy.com site to see what it’s actually all about. Sandberg is also criticized for her success: Apparently, such a “privileged” woman cannot understand the plight of everyday women who are too busy feeding their kids to even worry about being called “bossy,” or so they contend angrily. But here’s the thing: These kinds of words and reactions are an attempt to keep women “in our place”—in the boardroom or in the trailer park. This brand of sexism and belittlement of our success, on whatever level, makes it harder for women—whether Sandberg or someone who grew up in a trailer, as I did—to stay the course for women. We must, however. Every woman must stay loud and be proud to be the boss and seek leadership roles in our community. We owe it to the young women coming up behind us to show how it’s done. I suggest letting every attempt to silence you make you stronger. That, indeed, is the best response. I promise.
March 19 - 25, 2014
Graphic Design Intern Jesse Flowers is a Delta native and graduate of Delta State University with degrees in graphic design and painting. In his free time, he paints, travels and attends electronic music festivals. He designed the cover.
Anna Wolfe is a senior communication major at Mississippi State who strives to use writing as a tool to advance social justice. There, she writes for The Reflector and the Starkville Free Press. She wrote the Personhood story for this issue.
Kathleen M. Mitchell Demetrice Sherman Features Editor Kathleen Mitchell is passionate about a world where little girls (and boys) can grow up to be anything they want to be. Her best friends are her Sheroes. She wrote part of the GOOD Ideas package.
Editorial Intern and Mississippi Delta native Demetrice Sherman loves animals, books, and chocolate, all in abundance. Name a movie and chances are, she still hasn’t seen it. She contributed to the Zippity Doo Dah cover package.
Music Editor Briana Robinson wants to become an expert on all things music. Her other passions include dance and photography. Send her the music scoop at briana@jack sonfreepress.com. She wrote the Jacksonian.
R.L. Nave, native Missourian and news editor, roots for St. Louis (and the Mizzou Tigers)—and for Jackson. Send him news tips at rlnave@ jacksonfreepress.com or call him at 601-362-6121 ext. 12. He contributed to talks.
Ridgeland native Christina Spann is working on her master’s degrees in public policy and administration. She enjoys making people laugh and has a passion to change the face of public school education. She wrote an arts story.
Staff Photographer Trip Burns is a graduate of the University of Mississippi where he studied English and sociology. He enjoys the films of Stanley Kubrick. He took many photos for the issue.
“A parent is the best person to judge what’s best for their child, but we are the best judge of how to spend public money.”
Michelle Byrom may be innocent. Will the state execute her anyway? p 10
—State Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, talking about a controversial bill to give $6,000 vouchers for special-needs students.
Friday, March 14 President Obama tells medical website WebMD that 4.2 million people enrolled for health care this year, enough to make his signature law work. … The search for the missing Malaysian jetliner expands east and west after American officials said it was emitting signals to satellites for hours after its last contact with air traffic control nearly a week ago over the South China Sea. Saturday, March 15 The Malaysian government announces findings that strongly suggest the missing jet was hijacked and may have flown as far north as Central Asia or south into the Indian Ocean. Sunday, March 16 A new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press reveals that the Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
March 19 - 25, 2014
Monday, March 17 Crimea declares independence from Ukraine a day after 97 percent of the region’s residents voted in a referendum to join Russia.
Tuesday, March 18 President Obama belatedly awards the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans who served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam who were previously denied the award due to prejudice. Get breaking news at jfpdaily.com.
by R.L. Nave
hen the robots begin calling, you know race has begun. Before she announced that she had indeed decided to seek the mayor’s office, Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon was already the target of automated robocalls. “Our councilwoman is making a deal with a backroom politician,” said one such call. “Call her and tell her to let Tony Yarber win the mayor’s seat on his own. Please call our councilman, Margaret Barrett-Simon, and ask her not to make a deal with the powerbroker(s) that want to control the future of our city.” The suggestion is that Barrett-Simon got in the race to help Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber by pulling away votes from Yarber’s foes in the race. Pam Confer, Yarber’s campaign communications director, did not address the allegation of a side deal between Yarber and Barrett-Simon, but did acknowledge that the campaign uses automatic calling services. “Robocalls allow Councilman Yarber to enter into the homes of Jacksonians and create a virtual conversation, where he can deliver his message,” and ask for support, Confer wrote the Jackson Free Press in an email responding to a phone message. Confer has not responded to followup calls from the Jackson Free Press to determine the content of his robocalls. For her part, Barrett-Simon has pledged that her campaign would not engage in such tactics. “I would also like to
Councilman Tony Yarber is using robocalls in his campaign for mayor. His campaign has not yet revealed the content, though.
call all of those who decide to enter the campaign to renounce the use of ‘robocalls’ and similar anonymous ‘hit and run’ methods,” Barrett-Simon wrote on Facebook last week. The robocalls are one aspect in the war of words that includes a battle over the radio airwaves, particularly on urban radio stations where several of the candidates are running advertisements. Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber and Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the son of the late mayor, are both running campaign advertising on WRBJ 97.7 and WJMI 99.7, both of which target young listeners
of modern hip-hop and R&B music. Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. has reportedly begun airing a television ad. Sen. John Horhn also has a radio ad that he is airing on older and more conservative outlets, including a local blog that targets white conservatives. The candidates’ advertising choices reflect a desire to connect either directly with their bases or to shore up support among some groups where they aren’t as strong. For example, in addition to advertising on conservative media, during his announcement to seek the mayor’s office last week, Horhn addressed head-on the
A Woman’s Words I
’ve mentioned that several female friends and I share a Pinterest board dedicated to honoring our Sheroes (our lady heroes, obviously). How well do you know the iconic, powerful women in our world, past and present? Match the Sheroes below with either a quote attributed to them, or a description of what makes them great.
by Kathleen M. Mitchell
1. 2. 3. 4.
“A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life.” “You know what? B*tches get stuff done!” This woman is president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
When this Shero began anchoring NPR’s “All Things Considered” in 1972, she was the only woman broadcasting nightly news on national radio or TV.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
This Shero was the first African American nurse in the U.S. Army and the only African American woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences.
Her Twitter biography includes these descriptors, among others: author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker.
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
“I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.”
“I do not wish women to have power over men; but power over themselves.”
a. Audre Lorde b. Susie King Taylor c. Hillary Clinton d. Madeleine Albright e. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley f. Amy Poehler g. Virginia Woolf h. Tina Fey i. Cecile Richards j. Susan Stamberg
Answer key: 1:g / 2:h / 3:i / 4:j / 5:a / 6:b / 7:c / 8:d / 9:f / 10:e
Thursday, March 13 Attorney General Eric Holder endorses a proposal for shorter prison sentences for many nonviolent drug traffickers, saying the change would rein in runaway federal prison costs and create a fairer criminal justice system. … President Obama signs a presidential memorandum directing the Labor Department to propose rules to expand the number of employees eligible for overtime pay.
War of Words Begins in Mayor’s Contest Trip Burns
Wednesday, March 12 In a diplomatic dig at Russia, President Obama hosts the new Ukrainian prime minister at the White House. On the same day, the Group of 7 world leaders say they won’t recognize results of a referendum for the Crimea region to split from Ukraine and join Russia.
“Whatever is passed must be constitutionally sound. Because we want to protect religious freedom, we do not want to pass a law that would possibly jeopardize religious freedom or work to weaken one’s right to religious freedom.”
—Diane Derzis, the owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
—Speaker Phil Gunn, R-Clinton, on a controversial ‘religious freedom’ that many believed was tantamount to legal discrimination.
issue of his November 2013 run-in with the Jackson Police Department. That encounter resulted in a charge of driving under the influence; later, an audio recording of the encounter suggested that Horhn attempted to use his influence in the Legislature to obtain leniency. Horhn, who also ran for Jackson
mayor in 2009, said he is used to opponents “throwing stones” at him, he said. “To be honest, I’ve probably thrown some of the biggest stones at myself for being in this situation,” Horhn added during his announcement at Cade Courtyard. The deadline to file paperwork to qualify in the race is today, Wednesday,
March 19. So far, only three individuals have filed paperwork to qualify for the April 8 special election. Francis P. Smith filed on Thursday; Albert Wilson and Kenneth A. Swarts have also filed paperwork to qualify to run for mayor. Others pursuing the seat include former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and
Immigrants Need Affordable College, Advocates Say by R.L. Nave
him from attending college. “These children, all they want is an opportunity to be treated equally,” Martinez testified. trip burns
he cost of enrolling full time at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College for an in-state resident is $1,150 per semester. Adrian Gamboa, a 20-year-old Biloxi native, pays almost twice that amount, $2,075, to take 12 hours’ worth of courses at the Jefferson Davis campus in Gulfport. That’s because Gamboa is an undocumented immigrant. And, even though he lives in Mississippi and attends the same college as some of his high-school classmates, Gamboa must pay the out-of-state tuition rate. Immigrant-rights advocates have been working to change the law to make college more affordable for Mississippi’s growing immigrant population. One proposal, House Bill 209—which Rep. Reecy Dickson, D-Macon, sponsored—failed to make it out of the House Education Committee this session. Rep. Greg Holloway, D-Hazlehurst, who sits on the committee, held a hearing at the capitol Monday afternoon to discuss the issue. Israel Martinez, a Jackson-area businessman who is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, testified Monday that the high cost of out-of-state-tuition has kept
Israel Martinez, a local businessman and immigrant, said high tuition costs for undocumented students prevented him from going to college.
Information from the National Immigration Law Center shows that 16 states, many of which have large immigrant communities, already allow undocumented students to pay the same in-state fees as their
peers at higher learning institutions. Experts in the states that have already passed this legislation say the cost of implementation has been negligible. In-state tuition is not the same as free tuition. It is a discount, but in fact the money these students pay actually tends to increase school revenues because it represents income that would not otherwise be there. The bottom line is that our economic future depends on educating these young people. NILC representatives argue that in states where colleges have evened the playing field for immigrant students, the cost to taxpayers has been “negligible.” Dr. Debra West, representing the Mississippi Community College Board, said the board had no official position on the legislation and wanted to make college affordable for all students. Rep. Holloway told the Jackson Free Press that questions about how much changing the rules would cost taxpayers needed to be addressed. He said he could propose commissioning a study panel to review the issue and make recommendations for a future session. Comment at www.jfp.ms. Email R.L. Nave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SMG, manager of the Jackson Convention Complex, has issued a Request for Quote (RFQ) for Way Finding Signage (Phase 2): For more information and instructions on how to respond, please visit: jacksonconventioncomplex.com/ about/business
Priester, who rose to the position of the city council president after Lumumba’s death. Regina Quinn has also said she’s in the race, but has not held an official announcement event. Watch jfp.ms/politicsblog for breaking campaign news. Email News Editor R.L. Nave at email@example.com.
Upcoming Mayoral Debates March 20 at 6 p.m. — Mayoral Forum Hosts: West Central Jackson Improvement Association (WCJIA) Location: Johnnie Champion Center (1355 Hattiesburg St.) Moderator: Dr. Rickey Hill, Interim Chair of Jackson State University’s Department of Political Science Contact: Renee Shakespeare, 601-2011445 or firstname.lastname@example.org March 27 at 7-9 p.m. — Mayoral Debate (Live on WLBT and MSNewsNOW.com) Hosts: Jackson Chamber of Commerce and WLBT 3 Location: TBA Contact: Cynthia Buchanan, Executive Vice President, Jackson Chamber of Commerce, 601948-7575 or cbuchanan@ greaterjacksonchamberpartnership.com Contact: John Ditto, Chairman, Jackson Chamber of Commerce, john@ statestreetgroup.com April 4, time TBA — Mayoral Debate Hosts: Clarion-Ledger and WAPT-TV Location: Mississippi College School of Law
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“They have been posturing and wasting the taxpayers’ money for the last month on that piece of legislation, and every legislator there knows that.”
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Cancer. Obesity. Heart Disease. The list of problems can be long. The solutions are not always immediately evident. But discouraged is not a welcome word at The University of Southern Mississippi. Resilient and determined sound much better to us. Those characteristics are why we’re known for embracing
challenges, whether in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, or top-ranked athletic teams. It’s also why the National Institutes of Health recently invested
an additional $18 million
in Southern Miss to lead research efforts for studying an array of diseases.
That we’re the leader in safety and security for the nation’s largest sports venues. That we’re making the world a better place for future generations.
March 19 - 25, 2014
Take a closer look at Southern Miss. You’ll find we are more than meets the eye.
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You might be surprised that we’re developing materials used in aircrafts and ships.
LEGISLATURE: Week 10
Face Off Over Drug Testing, ‘Religious Freedom’
ath is hard to argue with. During debate over one of Gov. Phil Bryant’s pet bills to randomly test recipients of Temporary Assistance Needy Families, a monthly cash subsidy program for working poor people, Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, laid out the numbers. House Bill 49 proposes to issue written screening tests to people applying for TANF benefits. A third party, such as a private company, would review the screenings and determine which individuals might be drug abusers. Those possible addicts would then be tested for drugs and, if they test positive, they would have to enter a treatment program or lose their benefits, which average about $140 per month. There is no fiscal note outlining the cost to taxpayers, but supporters of HB 49 have said cited costs in other states that have similar programs. In Utah, for example, that state pays $1.25 per paper screening test, $50 per drug test and about $300 for each person to go through two months of drug treatment. So, Blount said, assuming the state tests half the approximately 10,000 families in Mississippi receiving TANF benefits, at a cost $1.25 per screen, it would cost the state $6,250 per year. If 10 percent of those individuals test positive and require addiction counseling, it could cost Mississippians as much as $300,000 per year. Compare to the $16,800 per year in benefits those individuals would have otherwise received, Blount said. “If you think that’s a fiscally conservative, sound use of money, then you need to vote for this bill,” he added. The bill, which has already passed the House, is likely headed for Bryant’s signature. The ACLU of Mississippi opposed the bill, but would say if it would seek an injunction against its implementation. GOP Saves Face on RFRA Despite their best efforts to whip up
by R.L. Nave
Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, called out fiscal conservatives for pushing a measure that could mean spending $300,000 on drug tests for welfare recipients.
enough votes for passage, supporters of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, proposal had to change course just before a critical legislative deadline. The Mississippi House of Representatives passed the RFRA—Senate Bill 2681— proposal 80 to 37 after its Republican sponsors, in a face-saving move, amended it to create a legislative study panel. The amended bill keeps a provision that would add the phrase “In God We Trust” into the state seal, but removes controversial language that civilliberties groups argued could clear the way for Jim Crow-style legalized discrimination. After dispensing with most other items on the calendar, the House went into a series of recesses in an apparent attempt for the Republican leadership to convince fellow Republicans to support the bill. When it became clear that the votes were not there, Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, offered the study committee as an alternative. “It is our First Amendment right to worship the God we want to worship,” said
Gipson, who added that protecting that right was too important to outright kill SB 2681. “We need a well-reasoned bill that protects our religious freedom,” Gipson said. The study committee will consist of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, and is required to have its first meeting no later than June 1 and have at least three meetings total, which would be open to the public; the bill also requires the committee to submit a report of its findings by the end of 2014. However, some speculation exists that supporters of SB 2681 will try to complete the process before the conclusion of the legislative session in early April. House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, endorsed the call for more study, saying that the House’s own attorneys had “differing views as to the legal impact of this bill.” “We have been diligently working to analyze all the concerns with this bill, but simply have not had enough time to thoroughly scrutinize all the concerns that seem to surround this bill, given that we only re-
ceived it a short time ago,” Gunn said in a press release. Pressure has been building on Mississippi lawmakers since the original bill passed the Mississippi Senate on Jan. 31. It was similar to a measure that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed last week. Critics said the Arizona measure could lead to discrimination against gay people and other groups by, for example, allowing a baker to refuse to make a cake for a same-sex couple. Gipson’s proposal said government cannot put a substantial burden on the practice of religion without a compelling reason. It said a person whose religious practice has been, or is likely to be, substantially burdened may cite that violation in either suing others or as a defense against a lawsuit. The ACLU of Mississippi and other SB 2681 opponents are still against the bill, arguing that it is vaguely worded and subject to broad interpretation. “The ACLU of Mississippi remains concerned that the status of SB 2681 continues to open the door to discrimination against any group based on religious objections. The study does no more than keep this potential license to discriminate alive,” Jennifer A. Riley-Collins, executive director of the state chapter of the ACLU, said in an emailed statement to the press. Rep. Chuck Espy, D-Clarksdale, called SB 2681 a potential “Pandora’s box.” “I hope at the end of the process, this bill doesn’t turn into something else,” Espy said. That’s highly possible. SB 2681 will likely go to a joint Senate-House conference committee, where it could be restored to its original form and sent along to Bryant. Even though Bryant proposed changing the state seal, he has not spoken publicly about SB 2681. In light of Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision to veto the legislative proposal in that state amid concerns from the business community. Comment www.jfp.ms.
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TALK | justice
An Innocent Woman?
Michelle Byrom vs. Mississippi by Ronni Mott Junior didn’t escape abuse, either. “[I] was fixing to go to bed when my dad came in, and said, ‘What do you think your [sic] doing coming in at this time?’ and before I could answer, he shoves me down, and my back hits the book shelf, and I begin to get up, and he grabs me and slaps me twice, and says, ‘You were a
“It just hasn’t seem to gotten through that people in horribly abusive situations are doing things that don’t look reasonable, like taking rat poison so she can stay in the hospital and get some temporary relief from the situation,” Yoder said. “That’s not a strategy that looks reasonable, (but in the hospital) nobody’s actuTrip burns
‘Happening Now’ If Mississippi executes Michelle, now 56, she will be the first woman the state has put to death in 70 years. It may also be a horrible injustice. “John Grisham couldn’t write this story,” said Warren Yoder, executive director of the Public Policy Center of Mississippi, in an
March 19 - 25, 2014
sit in my room for a good 1 1/2-2 hours, and dad comes in my room, and goes off on me, calling me bastard, nogood, mistake, and telling me I’m inconciderate [sic] and just care about my self, and he slaps me, then goes back to his room. “As I sat on my bed, tears of rage flowing, remembering my childhood my anger kept building and building, and I went to my car, got the 9mm, and walked to his room, peeked in, and he was asleep. I walked about 2 steps in the door, and screamed, and shut my eyes, when I heard him move, I started firing. When I opened my eyes again, I freaked! I grabbed what casings I saw, and threw them into the bushes, grabbed the gun, and went to town.” Edward Byrom Jr. confessed to murdering his father, Edward Byrom Sr., on June 4, 1999, in a letter to his mother, excerpted above. One of at least four known confessions—there are two additional letters and a statement to his court-appointed psychologist—it might have been evidence to convict “Junior” for murder. Instead, Tishomingo County deputies arrested Junior as part of a murder-for-hire conspiracy. Junior’s friend Joey Gillis was the shooter, they said, and his mother, Michelle Byrom, was the mastermind. Junior led police to the murder weapon, though. And only Junior had gunpowder residue on his hands. He made a deal. Junior testified against his mother in return for a reduced sentence. The prosecutor’s theory, based on Junior’s statements (which police subsequently lost) was that Michelle planned to pay Gillis $15,000 for the hit from the proceeds of Edward Sr.’s life insurance. “When they got me here, I gave them a bullsh*t story after another, trying to save my own ass, but when (Tishomingo County Sheriff) David Smith started questioning me, and told me what happened, I was so scared, confused, and high, I just started spitting the first thought out, which turned in to this big conspiracy thing, for money, which was all BS, that’s why I had so many different stories,” Junior wrote in his letter. Junior walked out of prison last year. Gillis, whom prosecutors said Michelle paid to kill her husband, got an even lighter sentence. Mississippi released Gillis in 2009. Michelle is now down to what could be her final appeal. On Feb. 24, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, and Jim Hood, Mississippi’s attorney general, requested an execution date: March 27.
Michelle Byrom, 56, is serving a sentence at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl for the 1999 murder of her husband. Despite serious questions about her guilt, Byrom is scheduled to be executed on March 27. She would be the first woman Mississippi has put to death in seven decades.
interview with the Jackson Free Press. “In any reasonable world, this would be a short story by Flannery O’Connor,” Yoder wrote in an email. “Instead, it is happening now in our Mississippi.” Junior’s confession isn’t the only evidence the jury did not get to see. Sexual and domestic violence filled Michelle’s life. The abuse was so severe that she became mentally ill, doctors said. Evidence indicated that her stepfather, Harold Postalwait, sexually abused her for years and forced her to work as a prostitute. When Michelle was 15, she ran away from home and became a stripper. That year, Michelle met Edward Byrom Sr., then 31, and moved in with him. Under Mississippi law, Edward Sr. was guilty of statutory rape; the age of consent is 16. Junior arrived three years later, and Michelle and Edward Sr. married when Junior was 5. Continuing what her stepfather began, Edward Sr. verbally and physically abused Michelle. He forced her to have sex with other men, which he videotaped. “I wish I could say this is unusual,” Yoder said of the case.
f*cking mistake to begin with!’ and shuts my door and leaves,” he wrote. “… He was always like that.” “I wish I could unread those letters,” Yoder said. “Those are searing—a descent into madness.” Michelle tried to leave Edward Sr., but his threats of violence always dragged her back. It’s a familiar story for domesticviolence victims, especially those with few resources. The prosecution’s response is familiar, too: Blame victims for not leaving—even though that can get them killed. “There’s been arguments made that maybe Eddie wasn’t the husband or the father that he should’ve been,” prosecutor Arch Bullard said during Michelle’s trial. “… Why didn’t she just leave him? Why didn’t she divorce him? Why didn’t she seek sanctuary somewhere else?” Dr. Keith A. Caruso, a forensic psychiatrist who has testified in numerous deathpenalty trials, diagnosed Michelle with borderline personality disorder, depression, alcoholism and Münchausen syndrome, a serious mental illness that caused her to ingest rat poison to make herself ill.
ally abusing her right this minute.” Michelle’s mental disorders are consistent with abuse, Caruso said. “If I had been called to testify … I would have offered the opinion that … she was inclined to harm herself and act in a self-defeating manner, so that she was psychologically unable to leave the abusive relationship with her husband,” he said in a March 19, 2013, affidavit. Michelle also suffers from lupus, anemia, chronic pain from a dog attack and numerous surgeries, fibromyalgia and severe hypertension. She was on at least nine medications to treat her ailments. Her attorneys, trying their first capital case, did not call those witnesses to testify, believing their testimony would be more useful during an appeal. They had Michelle waive her right to have a jury decide her sentence, justifying that the decision would be a constitutional error and grounds for an appeal. “I’ve never heard of such a whacky strategy before,” said Jackson attorney David Voisin, a consultant for death-penalty cases. “… It’s presumptuous to roll the dice that way when someone’s life is on the line.”
self. Later that night, Tishomingo County Sheriff David Smith questioned her. Smith informed Michelle that Junior had told him about the conspiracy and told her not to let her son “take the rap.” Michelle parroted back the details Smith told her of Junior’s statement. The court threw out Michelle’s first two statements because of Miranda errors; however, while still hospitalized, Michelle repeated her “confession” twice more, and the court allowed those statements. Michelle could not know that her first incriminating statement was improper. Indeed, the police told her that the prosecutor was already aware of her confession, and repeatedly admonished her not to let Junior take the fall alone. “The whole tenor of the interrogations, while she was drugged up and in the hospital, was ‘this is going to go really bad on your son,’ basically saying that ‘you should say something to help your son,’” Voisin said. “And that’s what she did.” Police lost Junior’s statements; however, he confessed to the killing to W. Criss Lott, a court-appointed forensic psychologist. Lott did not include the confession in his report to the court. Nonetheless, Judge Gardner was aware of it. “I contacted the presiding Judge and asked him what I should do in the hypothetical situation where I had received specific information about the facts and details of a crime during the course of a forensic evaluation for mental competency and sanity,” Lott said in an affidavit dated Feb. 3. “The Judge told me I should tell him
What if the man she supposedly hired to kill her husband didn’t do it?
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victim. On Nov. 18, 2000, Gardner imposed the death penalty. Gillis, the man Bullard said murdered Edward Sr., never testified. In March 2001, Gillis pled guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder and accessory after the fact in a plea agreement. “They didn’t even make him plead to a murder charge, and he’s out in the free world,” Voisin said. In an interview with the Daily Corinthian newspaper, Bullard admitted that his theory—the one that has Michelle facing execution—was wrong. “Gillis was part of the conspiracy, but not the person who actually committed the murder,” Bullard said. He also admitted that he knew Junior confessed to Lott, but said it could have “seriously compromised” Junior’s future testimony against Gillis. It would have also compromised his case against Michelle, but Bullard did not admit that. “The only reason that Michelle was convicted is because she supposedly hired Joey Gillis for this murder-for-hire plan,” Voisin said. “If Edward (Jr.) was shooting his father for his own reasons, and it wasn’t part of this plan to hire Joey Gillis, then Michelle should not even be in prison, much less on death row.” That is, Michelle Byrom’s conviction may hang on a lie. “She’s been abused as a child, abused as a wife and now, she’s being judicially abused,” Yoder said, calling the case “flagrantly unjust.” What’s at stake is whether Mississippi is executing a woman who did not commit the crime she’s convicted of. “The state doesn’t contest any of (the facts),” Voisin said. “They’re just trying to raise these technicalities to sweep this under the rug, and say, ‘Let’s just kill Michelle, anyway.’ That’s what it boils down to.” Junior’s words to Michelle Byrom bring home the point: “Do you remember the last question your attorney asked me? If I did it? Yes, I did,” Junior wrote. “I released a chaotic chain of events that are still unraveling. Use this letter, if you must, just let me know.” Comment www.jfp.ms/byrom.
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what I knew and so I told him about Edward Byrom Jr.’s confession to me that he had killed his father.” That confession, never heard by Michelle’s jury, is the centerpiece of her most recent appeal, now under consideration with the state supreme court. “When (Lott) evaluated Joey Gillis, Gillis said, ‘I didn’t shoot anybody. I helped Edward Jr. after the shooting, but I didn’t shoot anybody. Edward Jr. told Dr. Lott a very consistent story: that is that he was the one who did the shooting—that Edward Jr. himself did it,” Voisin said. The judge also did not allow Junior’s confession letters into evidence due to a questionable defense error. “It’s not like the lawyers were doing some legal jujitsu,” Voisin said, adding, “It doesn’t serve the cause of justice to punish a defendant by withholding truthful information that goes to the heart of the case.” The prosecutor knew about the letters and Junior’s confession to Lott. “It’s one thing to dismiss one incriminating statement as an offhand remark, but when someone writes two letters, one of them very detailed, and then also makes a confession to a court-appointed psychologist, after a while, you have to think this guy is telling the truth,” Voisin said. On the stand, Junior denied everything. He testified that Gillis was the killer and that Michelle had hired him. The jury returned a guilty verdict. Michelle’s attorneys then waived her right for a jury to hear the penalty phase of the trial, and they did not have any witnesses testify on Michelle’s behalf—namely, that she was mentally ill and a long-term abuse
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That left Michelle’s penalty up to one man: Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner. Because of the lack of mitigating evidence, Gardner characterized Michelle as a schemer, only concerned with profiting from her husband’s death. He imposed the death sentence. In 2006, Michelle appealed to the state Supreme Court for the second time, saying that her attorneys were wrong. In a 5-3 decision, the court denied her appeal. Justice Jess H. Dickinson excoriated the attorneys and Judge Gardner in his dissent. “I have attempted to conjure up in my imagination a more egregious case of ineffective assistance of counsel during the sentencing phase of a capital case,” Dickinson wrote. “I cannot.” “… [T]he trial judge lacked statutory authority to impose the death penalty in this case. Byrom and the State of Mississippi cannot merely agree for the trial judge to have sentencing authority where the statute does not give the judge such power.” Prosecutor: Gillis Not Killer On the morning of June 4, 1999, Edward Sr. drove Michelle to the hospital. She had double pneumonia. Edward Sr. returned home, where he was murdered with a World War II era Luger 9mm pistol that had belonged to his father. Sometime after the killing, Junior called 911, and the Tishomingo County Sheriff’s office responded. With no evidence of forced entry, their suspicions fell on Junior. Determining that Junior and Gillis had been together earlier, they also questioned Gillis. Junior accused Gillis of the shooting, and his mother of hiring his friend to do the deed. Gillis denied he was the shooter. While she was in the hospital and under the influence of at least 12 powerful drugs (including Talwin for pain, a sleeping pill Restoril, the antidepressant Zoloft, and Librium for anxiety and to relieve effects of alcohol withdrawal, all of which could have seriously impaired her judgment), the Mississippi Highway Patrol questioned Michelle, and she did not incriminate her-
March 19 - 25, 2014
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Women: Be Bold and Strive
s we close out March and celebrate National Women’s History Month, I am encouraged by what’s happening here in Jackson. While we reflect on the past accomplishments of women around the world, it’s imperative we acknowledge the revolution the courageous women in our own community are leading. Over the last few years, women leaders have taken our city by storm. It’s refreshing to be involved in a movement chock full of community service organizers, entrepreneurs, elected officials, attorneys, filmmakers. I’m in awe of the overall purposeful impact we as women contribute to society daily. We, as women, can serve as true catalysts of change: the change we so desperately need in our city. We are mothers, wives, sisters, aunts—the backbone and glue of our families. And often, our passions and dreams are forced to take a back seat to the needs of others. So, as I write this article, I render a challenge to each woman reading this as spring slowly peeks over the cold shoulder of winter. I urge all women to continue to be bold and strive to make a meaningful difference. Until there is equal pay for all women, keep striving. Until more than 20 percent of women hold public office globally, keep striving. Until there is a cure for cancer, lupus and AIDS, I say keep striving! It is our duty as women and our privilege to pave a better future for the little girl next door. Be encouraged to travel the path unknown, and be a distinctive voice. I’m reminded of the saying “Progression, Not Perfection.” Any progress today in the right direction is a stride toward building a better tomorrow. Our time is now. Failure is not an option, unless you never try. I am convinced that Jackson’s best days are ahead. Get involved in your community and stay engaged!
‘worship’ “It is our First Amendment right to worship the God we want to worship. We need a well-reasoned bill that protects our religious freedom.”
March 19 - 25, 2014
— State Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, on the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opponents of the bill said could lead to legalized discrimination.
Why it stinks: The U.S. Constitution indeed protects the right to practice the religion of one’s choosing. It does not, however, allow individuals or businesses to discriminate in the execution of that right. The First Amendment guarantees both the “free exercise” of religion and prohibits the government from establishing one religion over others—which includes passing laws that favor one religion over another religion, or the lack of one. In fact, we’ve been through this with legally segregated houses of worship, and we chose, as a society, to change that. Why go back to the dark ages, Rep. Gipson? You can surely find a way to worship without encouraging citizens to discriminate against others and their decisions and beliefs.
Stop the Execution of Michelle Byrom
ichelle Byrom is clearly not guilty of the crime for which the state plans to execute her next week. We say this not out of moral opposition to the cruel and unusual nature—although it is—of the way the death penalty is administered in this country, nor are we quibbling over the technical minutiae of Byrom’s case. As Ronni Mott reports this week (see: “Justice Subverted?” on page 10), Byrom was arrested and convicted for orchestrating the June 1999 murder of her husband Edward Byrom Sr. Prosecutors in Tishomingo County argued at Byrom’s trial that she hired a man named Joey Gillis to kill Edward Sr. Up until that point, Byrom suffered a lifetime of abuse that had a jury heard about it could have been sufficiently mitigating for her to receive life imprisonment rather than death for the capital offense of murder-for-hire. The most glaring fault with her conviction is that the evidence raises serious doubt that Michelle Byrom hired Joey Gillis or that Gillis killed Edward Sr. In fact, Michelle and Edward Sr.’s son, Junior, has confessed more than once in letters to killing his father—letters the jury never saw. Early on, Junior had told the Tishomingo County sheriff about an elaborate plot involving his mother, but Junior said he was “scared, confused and high” during the interview. Later, Junior recanted those statements through letters to his mother and to a court-appointed psychologist. In one letter to Michelle, Junior said after his father belittled him as a “bastard” and “no good
mistake,” Junior retrieved his father’s pistol, crept into the room as Edward Sr. slept, and fired. Junior made four known confessions; but on the stand, he stuck to the story he originally told sheriffs— that Gillis was the killer, and Michelle Byrom had hired Gillis for the hit. A jury found her guilty, and a judge sentenced her to death. Despite those case problems, Mississippi’s Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood has scheduled Michelle Byrom’s execution for March 27. Another man, Charles Ray Crawford, is scheduled to be executed March 26. The state prefers to group executions together to minimize the costs; each execution costs taxpayers approximately $11,000. We cannot ignore the irony that these executions come as a comprehensive prison-reform package heads to the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant, which is expected to sign. The legislation aims to keep people out of prison who do not belong there. Today, both Gillis, the accused shooter, and Junior, who confessed to the shooting, are out of prison as Michelle Byrom languishes in prison and her health continues to spiral downward. It would be gravely inhumane to execute a woman as mentally and physically ill as Michelle Byrom—and a frightening contrast to all the brutal woman-killers that previous Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned, a story revealed to Mississippians for the first time in 2008 by Ronni Mott. To execute Michelle Byrom for a crime that she did not commit would be one of the worst miscarriages of justices in modern Mississippi history. This execution must not happen.
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Hobby Lobby Wages War on Birth Control
Jackson Marcus Butler Dr
he Green family is headed to Washington, D.C., for its day in court—the U.S. Supreme Court. The Greens own a chain of artsand-crafts stores, Hobby Lobby, which has 590 stores, including one in Flowood, and more than 13,000 employees nationwide. The private company’s operating principles include, “honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” That includes demanding the right to deny their employees coverage for birthcontrol pills under their health insurance. On Feb. 10, attorneys for Hobby Lobby filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court for relief of some of the insurancecoverage mandates of the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the Greens object to four forms of birth control mentioned in the bill that may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s womb. They consider the methods abortifacients. “Respondents believe human beings deserve protection from the moment of conception, and that providing insurance coverage for items that risk killing an embryo makes them complicit in abortion,” the suit states. The lawsuit has seen mixed results in the lower courts. An Oklahoma appeals court disagreed with the Greens, while a Texas court agreed. The Greens allege that the ACA is violating their freedom to practice their religion. The main thrust of their legal argument rests on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and it hangs on the court’s willingness to see Hobby Lobby as a “person” under the law, as it did in the Citizens’ United case in 2010. That case opened the floodgates of “dark money” for political candidates, but it did not touch on individual rights. Attorneys for the Greens cite an arcane law called the Dictionary Act, which states that, unless otherwise specified, “the words ‘person’ and ‘whoever’ include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.” In 2011, the Oxford University Press pointed out just how outdated the Dictionary Act is: “The Act specifies that signature includes ‘a mark when the person making the same intended it as such.’ Apparently there’s a lot of insanity in the law, because the Dictionary Act finds it necessary to specify that the words ‘insane’ and
‘insane person’ and ‘lunatic’ shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis. “The Dictionary Act also tells us that ‘persons are corporations … as well as individuals,’ (with rights) to ‘personal privacy.’ (The Act doesn’t specify whether ‘insane person’ includes ‘insane corporation.’)” The government’s argument is that for-profit corporations have no standing under RFRA, which says, in part, that the “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” It cites exceptions—religious organizations and religious-based non-profits—but not ordinary corporations. “The (Texas court’s) overly expansive decision will permit a secular, for-profit corporation’s owners or shareholders to impose their religious beliefs on employees by denying female employees access to preventive health care, including insurance coverage for contraception,” the government argues. “Congress could not have anticipated, and did not intend, such a broad and unprecedented expansion of RFRA. Nor did Congress intend for courts to permit for-profit corporations and their shareholders to use RFRA to deny female employees access to health care benefits to which they are otherwise entitled.” “ … The test Congress reinstated through RFRA ... extended free-exercise rights only to individuals and to religious, nonprofit organizations. No Supreme Court precedent had extended free-exercise rights to secular, for-profit corporations.” Hobby Lobby supporters call the government’s argument absurd. “This is not a case over whether corporations can pray,” said Kyle Duncan on a conference call. Duncan is general counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the chain store. No for-profit corporation has come out in support of Hobby Lobby, nor has the U.S. Chamber or the National Federation of Business. Neither the chamber nor NFIB has been shy about lending their support to businesses in cases where the outcome is beneficial to the business community. It comes down to these questions: Is Hobby Lobby a person under the law, and if so, does the company have the right to impose its religious beliefs on its employees? Are the rights of a corporation more important than those of 13,000 people? If the justices rule for Hobby Lobby, what are the future repercussions?
No for-profit corporation has come out in support of Hobby Lobby.
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Young reproductive-rights activists support the Jackson Women’s Health Organization during a January 2013 demonstration.
‘Personhood’ May Be Back
March 19 - 25 ,2014
he is still learning the ins and outs, he said he supports the Personhood initiative that seeks to outlaw abortion, and other services, in Mississippi. Personhood Mississippi is currently campaigning for Initiative 41 to appear again on the ballot in 2015. Personhood was on the 2011 ballot as Initiative 26, also referred to as Amendment 26. Most voters—58 percent, with votes from the left and the right—listened to voter concerns, which included prohibition of birth-control pills and in vitro fertilization and possible death of the mother in life-threatening pregnancy, and voted down the bill on Nov. 8, 2011. Dalton acknowledges the possible outcomes of Personhood, like the ban of hormonal birth control, but said, “For me personally, we don’t use birth control, so it wouldn’t affect me.” He also believes saving fertilized eggs from being terminated offsets the sacrifices. Failed The First Time The anti-abortion organization Personhood Mississippi filed paperwork for
Initiative 41 on March 5, 2013. If supporters gather 107,216 signatures by May 14, 2014, the bill will appear on the ballot in November 2015. Anne Reed, spokeswoman for Personhood Mississippi, said the language of Amendment 26 confused voters, which is why her group believes the bill failed to pass. She said, with confidence, that the wording of Initiative 41 is much clearer, and Personhood Mississippi should not have a hard time collecting the needed amount of signatures. Initiative 41 reads: “The right to life begins at conception. All human beings, at every stage of development, are unique, created in God’s image and shall enjoy an inalienable right to life.” Initiative 26 read: “Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?” Jonelle Husain, a Mississippi State University graduate student and sociology instructor who has focused much of her research on abortion, said she was insulted when Personhood advocates immediately
eith Dalton, a Jacksonarea landscape worker and local punk musician, had never involved himself with the anti-abortion movement. In fact, he hated seeing the people with signs outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last operating abortion clinic in Mississippi. One day, while driving past protesters outside the bright pink building in Fondren on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Dalton started to weep. He said God placed a burden on his heart after seeing two girls outside the clinic crying and handing out informational pamphlets about abortion. He went home and tried to shake the feeling that God was calling him to act, but it never went away. “God put it on my heart to come out here every morning to this spot and pray for God to have mercy on the women that come in,” Dalton said. Dalton joined the anti-abortion movement three months ago, and while
by Anna Wolfe
Jesus watches over as a surgeon operates in a painting that hangs in Dr. Clifton Story’s office at University Medical Services at Mississippi State.
attributed the bill’s failure to Mississippi voters being misinformed and misunderstanding the amendment. “I don’t know any voters who had
the abortion clinic, agrees with the analogy. “I think that if that person (zygote) could vote then the woman would have two votes, and that might scare the hell out of men.” “This has to be the most offensive piece of legislation ever designed by a man,” Derzis said. The Jackson Free Press reported in 2011 that Les Riley led the effort to obtain the 130,000 signatures to put Personhood on the ballot in 2011. Riley, a trailer salesman from Pontotoc, founded Personhood Mississippi, which is part of a national movement, Personhood U.S.A. Riley is a former member of the neo-Confederate League of the South and is a leader of the state’s secessionist Constitution Party. The Right Wing Watch website calls him a “Christian separatist.” When announcing the new campaign last year to get Personhood back on the ballot, Riley told the media on a conference call: “(Voters) didn’t understand the last amendment.”
been active on this issue that you could define as being confused by any stretch of the imagination,” Husain said. Atlee Breland, the founder of Parents Against Personhood who lives in Brandon, said most voters don’t want to endure another Personhood campaign. “The vote and the campaign was very decisive for people,” Breland said.
be interpreted by a court as violating the legal rights of a person,” Hines said. “The law is not specific enough, so it would be total chaos trying to figure out what was actually going to happen,” Hines said. Hines is confident voters would strike down Personhood a second time around, more PERSONHOOD, see page 18 saying that legislation with ambiguous consequences is not logical. “Courts and legislative bodies don’t really play a role and should not play a role in (medical decision making). Patients should have autonomy, and doctors should practice medicine based on science, not based on some illconceived notion somebody has,” Hines said. “It is very frightening when you take these decisions away from doctors and patients, and start telling judges, ‘You are responsible for the decision,’” Breland said. Michelle Colon, a pro-abortion-rights activist who works as a clinic escort at the Jackson Women’s Heath Organization, said Personhood does not make sense constitutionally, logically, or medically. “Does that mean if I’m a pregnant woman I get two votes Diane Derzis, owner of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, calls Personhood amendments when I vote?” Colon said. “offensive” legislation designed by men. Diane Derzis, the owner of
The Science Of Personhood Breland, mother of three healthy children conceived through fertility treatment, said Personhood would entirely diminish women’s ability to receive IVF. Freezing embryos, for example, would be banned under Personhood. “When you say that (an embryo or zygote) is a person with a right to life, you can’t do things that might potentially damage or injure that embryo’s right to life. Even if you’re otherwise doing them for a good cause,” Breland said. “There’s no way out of this conundrum that makes IVF possible under Personhood.” Reed ignores voters’ and physicians’ concern about Personhood implications by focusing on the well-being of the zygote—the fertilized egg. “For those of us who might ask the question, ‘Well, what about this and what about that?’ if we’re talking about exceptions, my question is, ‘When is it alright to kill an innocent human being?’ My answer to that is, ‘It’s never alright,’” Reed said in an interview.
The ambiguity of the language in the Personhood amendment makes it hard for Dr. Randall Hines of Mississippi Reproductive Medicine in Flowood to know exactly how the bill would affect reproductive health. He said the law lacks specificity, and its application would depend solely on the different courts’ interpretations of the amendment. Hines said any procedure during which a zygote is damaged could be questioned and potentially outlawed. Embryo cryopreservation, which is essential for in vitro fertilization, could be threatened. “In the course of IVF or in the course of natural reproduction, eggs and embryos don’t survive,” Hines said. “If you took to the extreme, you would say every reproductive process could be jeopardized.” Birth-control methods that affect a mother’s womb and could come in contact with and stop the growth of a fertilized egg could be questioned under Personhood. “Almost every birth-control method has more than one mechanism, so depending on which mechanism of action you focus on, you could perhaps challenge any of them,” Hines said. In the case of a life-threatening pregnancy like ectopic pregnancy, during which a zygote forms in a mother’s fallopian tubes, doctors must remove the fertilized egg surgically or medically. “You can’t do any of those if your action is going to
Dr. Clifton Story, the director of University Health Services at Mississippi State, disagrees with many medical professionals on the Personhood issue. He believes God is there when an egg is fertilized so killing it is the same as killing a person.
Traumatized Women? Nick Bell, president of Students For Life, a pro-life organization at Mississippi State University, said his group focuses on the belief that life begins at conception, leaving other political and religious values up to each individual member. The group also raises awareness for the crisis pregnancy center in Starkville located on Academy Road. Bell said women who have abortions suffer from regret and feeling like a part of them has died. “They have been so badly affected by their traumatic experience that they have now dedicated their lives to helping and counseling women who are considering
PERSONHOOD from page 17
Michelle Colon, an abortion-rights activist, argues that Personhood amendments make neither constitutional, logical nor medical sense.
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abortion and women who have had (an) abortion,â€? Bell said. â€œThey say that they do not wish for other women to experience what they did, and so they want to help prevent that from happening to others.â€? Like Dalton, Bell considers not only the embryo but also the woman experiencing the unwanted pregnancy, believing that preventing abortion helps women. Husain said that such generalizations about women who have chosen to have abortions further stigmatize the procedure by asserting that all women who have abortions are psychologically traumatized. These stories are part of a narrative used by pro-life advocates for political gain, she said. The sociology instructor is writing her dissertation on reproductive justice and the anti-abortion movement, focusing her research on women in post-abortion recovery groups sponsored by crisis pregnancy centers. Women in these groups suffer from regret, depression and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. She found that the stories of women who attend these groups do not reflect that of the majority of women who have had abortions. â€œThose claims, that abortion causes trauma that is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, are not just without basis in the scientific literature, but all the major medical associations in the U.S. vehemently disputed those claims,â€? Husain said. â€œThere is just no data to support it.â€? This narrative, as Husain described it, is more of a construct by anti-abortion advocates, who publicize uncommon stories to advance their agenda. At the end of the recovery group session, women are encouraged to tell their stories publicly. A study published in Perspectives
On Sexual & Reproductive Health found that women in the United States had an estimated 1.2 million abortions in 2005. â€œOnly a very small number of women in that group claim to suffer negative effects, which raises questions about the legitimacy of these claims,â€? Husain said. â€œIâ€™ve had an abortion, and I donâ€™t hide that fact. Do I regret it? No. I donâ€™t regret the decision I made. I regret finding myself in those circumstances, but thatâ€™s different. But you donâ€™t hear our stories.â€? Participating in these recovery groups, Husain said, changes how women understand their abortions. Nada Scotland, former president of the American Psychiatric Association, has conducted research and written articles for the Journal of American Medical Association. She asserts that no scientific evidence links depression or other psychiatric diseases to abortion. Colon said women will terminate pregnancies they do not want, and outlawing safe medical abortions creates dangerous situations for women facing unwanted pregnancies. â€œItâ€™s stripping women of their autonomy, of their personhood,â€? Colon said. â€œAll woman should support the expansion of womenâ€™s rights, not the restricting of womenâ€™s rights.â€? A Utilitarian Argument Dr. Clifton W. Story, executive director of University Health Services at Mississippi State, has worked as a doctor at MSU since 2008. Among other general physician care, Story deals with the dayto-day reproductive health of women. He has experience in prescribing birth control and diagnosing pregnancy. Story, on whose office wall hangs a painting of a Jesus-like figure guiding
the hand of a doctor performing surgery, agrees with the language in the Personhood amendment. “I believe we’re created by God. I think God is the one that initiates all that,” Story said. “When the sperm and egg come together almost immediately, or within a few days anyway, the chromosomes that make up who we are and who we become are established.” Story, due to his religious beliefs, believes that the rights of the unborn babies outweigh those of pregnant women
needing medical services that he wants to see prohibited. He doesn’t know exactly what the amendment’s language should include, but said the bill should address the devastating issue of abortion. “I think we cloud the issue by worrying about these side issues—the IVF, the safety of the mother—and then we’re still missing this very huge population of babies that are aborted, that are never given the chance to live,” Story said. Anja Scheib, MSU freshman business major and SFL member, said SFL
does recognize one exception to the Personhood argument—ectopic pregnancy. “There’s no way the baby can survive, so at that point we consider saving the mom,” Scheib said. Although Personhood prohibits destroying a fertilized egg with no exceptions, Bell and Scheib both said they would vote for the bill, prioritizing the abolishment of abortion over allowing women to choose whether to have a child or to protect their own lives. Husain, however, said that the Per-
sonhood amendment is an assault on the reproductive rights of women. “I think the idea that we would have a legislative body inserting itself between the most private relationship, between a woman and her doctor, is just ludicrous,” she said. “You can’t, in one breath, say that women have equality when you are trying to take from them or threaten their most fundamental right, and that is to decide when and under what circumstances that they will be pregnant and have a child.” Comment at jfp.ms.
Senate Passes‘Irrelevant’ Anti-Abortion Bill he Mississippi Senate decided Tuesday, March 11, to assert its authority over women’s reproductive health decisions when it passed HB 1400, a bill that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks. The legislation is seemingly targeted at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic left in the state. Yet, the bill is frivolous legislation in the eyes of the clinic’s owner, Diane Derzis. “That’s a totally irrelevant piece of legislation that I’m sure was aimed at the clinic. The clinic goes to 16 weeks, so what difference does that bill make?” Derzis said in an interview Wednesday. “They have been posturing and wasting the taxpayers’ money for the last month on that piece of legislation, and every legislator there knows that.” The bill only creates exceptions for abortions after 20 weeks when the mother’s health is severely threatened or A bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which cleared the Mississippi Senate this week, appears to target the state’s only in cases of extreme fetal abnormality. The remaining abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Senate also rejected an amendment to the bill by Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, to create exceptions for pregnancies as a result of rape or incest. “Women in Mississippi, and women in this country, The Associated Press reported Mississippi Depart- focusing on restricting abortion, as opposed to other don’t ask politicians for medical advice. Therefore, politi- ment of Health statistics showing 2,176 abortions in Mis- state issues. cians should not enter the decision-making process for sissippi in 2012. Two were reported at 21 weeks or later, “What a shame that we’re not talking about increaswomen,” Simmons said Thursday during a short debate and 382 were listed as unknown gestational age. ing the Aid to (Families With) Dependent Children or whether to reconsider the bill. Derzis said pregnancies terminated after 20 weeks maternal mortality, something to reduce that—the things Derzis said she was not surprised the Senate struck are those done in hospitals by physicians who see the that are really problems in Mississippi,” Derzis said. down Simmons’ amendment, although she was glad a leg- abortion as a medical necessity. “This is another example of a government out of islator raised the concern of women impregnated during a Felicia Brown-Williams, director of public policy for control,” Derzis said. sexual crime. Michelle Colon, a pro-abortion-rights activ- Planned Parenthood Southeast, said in a press release that Personhood Mississippi is currently gathering sigist who has helped defend JWHO for 10 years, doesn’t women facing medical complications should not face re- natures for a new Personhood amendment, Initiative understand the logic of anti-abortion advocates who say strictions when their lives are in danger. 41, which defines life at the moment of conception and that restricting abortion benefits women. “Abortions later in pregnancy typically involve severe would ban all abortions across the state. Mississippi voters “I think it’s an insult and an assault against women fetal abnormalities or serious risks to a woman’s health. voted down personhood in 2011 under Amendment 26. when (anti-abortion advocates) say those things,” Colon These are often very wanted pregnancies that have gone The revived personhood referendum needs to gather said, adding that restrictive legislation strips women of tragically wrong,” Brown-Williams wrote. 107,216 signatures by May 14 to get the initiative back their rights and their autonomy. Derzis criticizes the Mississippi Legislature for on the ballot in 2015.
by Anna Wolfe
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GIRL POWER by Donna Ladd
onfidence equals power. And right there is why so many girls, and then women, don’t achieve the power to influence elections, start successful businesses, oust the philandering or abusive partners, or become CEOs of major corporations. It’s even why too many young women get pregnant—they didn’t have the confidence to say no or demand protected sex—and then too often lead lives of poverty. Confidence. Let’s be honest: Many people (even other women) don’t dig self-assured females. They don’t trust us, resent us and scowl at us for being “self-promotional”—which
men do openly all the time and is a major key to success. And too many people, men and women, don’t want a female boss telling them what to do and what not to do. The socialization against such “bossiness” starts young, with girls told not to be loud, too proud and definitely not “bossy.” As a result, girls start learning that society does not expect them to be leaders—because being a leader, and having power, does involve being the boss. Being in charge. Being strong and direct. Being confident enough to make decisions and right the course of a business or a nation or a city. If we continue to tell girls that it’s not acceptable to be
Too often …
March 19 - 25, 2014
25 • Girls are 25 percent less likely than boys by middle school to say they like taking the lead.
• Teachers (and professors) of both genders typically call on girls less in class than boys. Many have no idea they do it.
• Both boys and girls believe it’s easier for men to become leaders.
• Replacing a women’s name on the same resume with a male name can increase the “worthiness of the hire” by 60 percent.
The Likeability Penalty
More Opportunity=Less Teen Pregnancy
Societal bias means that many people of both genders will find a female leader less likeable. Studies show that a woman who speaks in a direct style and promotes herself or her ideas is less liked. The “tells” for this bias are these words: • aggressive • too ambitious • out for herself • not well liked When you hear these words, ask the speaker for specifics on just what the woman did wrong. Then follow up: Would you have the same reaction if a man did/said the same thing? And remember: Saying men and women have the same issue with her just reinforces the research that both men and women are socialized to express this bias against powerful women. Meantime, start learning that it’s OK not to be liked by everyone, especially for backward reasons.
“Simply put, increased aspirations and expanded opportunities for young women have the potential to extend the downward trend in teen childbearing.” From “Teen Births Are Falling: What’s Going On?” The Brookings Institution, March 2014
A woman is bossy. A man is a leader. A woman is a bully. A man is a role model. A woman is a ball-buster. A man is strong. A woman is loud. A man is heard. A woman is aggressive. A man is confident. A woman is brash. A man is direct. A woman is ambitious. A man has authority. A woman is a b*tch. A man is in charge.
bossy, we are setting them up for failure. We are telling them it is not their place to lead. So they step back. Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive who wrote “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” this month started a #banbossy campaign (banbossy.com) to educate about the need to change the language directed toward women and, especially, girls about leadership. Sandberg is partnering with the Girl Scouts of the USA to call for girls to learn to be ambitious, “lean in” to success, sit at the table, speak up in board meetings and raise their hands in class—habits still sadly lacking for too many females in 2014.
“I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.” —Beyoncé
Never degrade yourself or deflect a compliment with “I got lucky” or “It was nothing”—others might believe you! Just smile and say, “thank you.”
Howard Yay, Heidi Nay In “Lean In,” Sheryl Sandberg details a powerful 2003 study showing just how bad the bias against women leaders is in our society. A Columbia Business School and a New York University professors used a Harvard Business School case study about venture capitalist Heidi Roizen. They assigned half the class to read her story and the other half to read the same story with her first name changed to Howard. The students ranked Heidi and Howard equally competent—but called Howard more likeable. Heidi, the poll found, was selfish and “not the kind of person you would want to hire or work for.”
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Be a Leader, Girl! Rachel Simmons, co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, reports at banbossy.com that girls are twice as likely as boys to worry that taking on a leadership role will make them seem “bossy.” She offers 10 tips to girls to overcome the leadership stigma (and they might help adult women, too); here’s a sample; the rest are at banbossy.com.
Speak up in class. Sit up front and practice raising your hand; don’t edit
Don’t apologize before you speak. Don’t preface your opinion by
your comments in your head ahead of time; and learn that it’s not a big deal to be wrong. And stay the course: females are interrupted more often and given less credit for their ideas. Learning to say “Please don’t interrupt me” at a young age will help. apologizing for it or saying “I might be wrong but ….” Watch the “upspeak” of ending your sentence like a question. Don’t ask, “Does that make sense?” Take a breath and speak with a strong voice, not a tiny, whiny one.
Challenge yourself. Girls must learn to push through their comfort zones and try out new experiences. Try a sport, take a class, learn to code—or state your opinion out loud (without qualifying it first!). Just say it.
Ask for help. Successful people find mentors and advisers and build power-
Don’t do everyone else’s work. Don’t take on the work of slackers.
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ful relationships with them, often lasting a lifetime. Ask what they wish they’d known when they were your age. Be willing to listen.
Talk to the classmate (or co-worker, adults) about the problem and take it to teachers and managers if you need to. And make sure you get credit for work done.
Be. Ambitious. Ambitious is not a dirty word. It’s a powerful one and means that you are willing to work hard now for success in the future. Sheryl Sandberg advises women to, right now, start asking for “stretch projects” to learn new skills and try to pass on or delegate the undervalued work everyone assumes you will do. Never stay still with your skills or go backward.
A great resume shows that you excelled and grew a job; a poor resume is peppered with one after another entrylevel job. Don’t be afraid to stretch as far as you can in your current position—or lean in, as Sandberg puts it—to impress future employers with your ambition and leadership potential. Women still have to work twice as hard for success—be sure you’re working smart and learning.
Role Models Are Key A Bloomberg Businessweek study, reported at ProjectEve.com, found that the entrepreneurial gender gap is due, in part, to young girls showing too little interest in owning their own business some day. Answers, researcher Scott Shane found, include putting resources to teach girl more about entrepreneurship and making sure they are exposed to women business leaders. • If you’re a female business leader, seek out young women to mentor—and tell them the advantages of your role. Share your powerful story every chance you get, especially to young girls who need to hear it. • If you’re in early years of your career, find a female role model who will help you build your career, and never let go of her. Help her, and she will help you. • If you’re a student (or parents of one), find strong female leaders to expose your daughters to. Now. Download tips for girls, parents, managers, teachers and troop leaders at banbossy.com.
My family and I are truly grateful to you for your overwhelming support and presence on last evening at City Hall as I announced my candidacy for Mayor of the City of Jackson. Despite less than favorable weather conditions, you stood with us and, for that, we say THANK YOU. Your positive energy and enthusiasm was truly humbling. Being in the midst of so many passionate and dedicated citizens provided a small glimpse of the collective impact we can make in this City. This was an incredible first step in OUR campaign—The People’s Campaign! This campaign is
not about an individual or one man, this campaign is about our City and one People! I believe in this City. I believe in the People of Jackson. Please like our Facebook Page “Elect Chokwe Lumumba” for real-time updates. If you are interested in getting involved with The People’s Campaign, please email us at ChokweAntarForMayor@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @ChokweLumumba. You can also receive updates on Instagram @ChokweAntarForMayor. You may also contact The People’s Campaign by contacting the campaign office at 601.362.0021. If you would like to contribute to The People’s Campaign, please send your donations to: The Committee to Elect Chokwe A. Lumumba P.O. box 11691 Jackson, MS 39283 There is much work to be done and WE NEED YOU to continue the vision and make prosperity and security a reality for all of Jackson. Love + The People’s Power = Progress., In sincere gratitude, Chokwe Antar #ThePeoplesMissionContinues PAID FOR BY FRIENDS TO ELECT CHOKWE A. LUMUMBA
Dear Fellow Jacksonians,
Leadership by Kathleen Mitchell
mproving the lives of girls and young women is a vast and interconnected endeavor. But time and time again, studies show that when women’s lives improve—economically, educationally, health-wise or otherwise—so do their family’s. In the following pages are three areas where Jackson can empower its women. First, leadership. To make long-term gains for women, they need movement at both ends of the wage spectrum—at one end, they need to earn a living wage, while at the other, women must break the glass ceiling (and continue to break it) to reach upper-tier success and pay equal to that of men in the same job. In between, they need the confidence, tenacity, experience and skill sets to reach leadership roles, so that they can mentor and inspire younger women. Communities need women representing them at the highest levels of politics, business, medicine and all other fields. To leave them out is to ignore the voices of half the population.
“Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” by Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf, 2013, $24.95). Sandberg’s book is chock-full of research on the gender leadership gap and calls to action to on how to fix it.
COURTESY BACK BAY BOOKS
“Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” by Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay Books, 2007, $17). While this book is not focused on gender, one chapter in particular offers ideas on how to overcome our subconscious (and split-second) stereotyping of women who apply for jobs and public roles—genderblind testing. Gladwell found that nearly all orchestra and symphony musicians at the highest level who played larger instruments were men. When women walked out to play at auditions, the judges were mentally dismissing them before the women played a single note—and they likely weren’t even aware of it. One simple fix revealed the truth—when blind auditions were held (meaning auditioning musicians played behind a curtain and didn’t speak or give their names, so the judges could only hear how they played their instrument), the judges chose women and men nearly equally as the best musicians. Although blind auditions and interviews don’t work in all circumstances, implementing more gender-blind steps for interviews can help challenge many stereotypes about what kind of leadership women are capable of.
March 19 - 25, 2014
Did you know?
35 women have served as U.S. governors compared to 2,319 men.
“Miss Representation,” available on Netflix streaming. Actress and activist Jennifer Siebel Newsom explores how the media representation of women—including women in leadership roles—is damaging to young girls’ ambitions and sense of self. The documentary eventually spun off a nonprofit called The Representation Project (therepresentationproject.org), which aims to fight sexism and gender stereotyping across the spectrum. One of the project’s current campaigns is a major push to call out sexism in commercials, products, articles and more using the hashtag #NotBuyingIt on social media.
#NotBuyingIt Of 196 countries, only 33 have had female presidents— the U.S. isn’t one. SOURCE: FASTCOMPANY.COM
Security by Kathleen Mitchell
women do not earn even a living wage, many women feel unsafe due to domestic violence, and these issues can compound one another. If a woman can’t make enough money to support herself and her family, she may not have the strength to get out of an abusive situation.
Locally, learn about:
Did you know? U.S. women continue to earn 77¢ to every dollar that men earn.
The Center for Violence Prevention (409 Roberts St., Pearl, 601-932-4198, mscvp.org), which serves 10 counties in Mississippi and works to fight many aspects of domestic violence. The JFP Chick Ball (jfpchickball.com) This year, the Chick Ball celebrates 10 years of helping the center “prevent, protect and empower.” Come help us.
YEARS OF TH E
JFP CHICK BALL
“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Knopf, 2009, $15.95). Kristof and WuDunn also made a documentary of the same name. Visit halftheyskymovement.org.
In Memphis, Tenn., an organization called Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality has organized a subgroup called the Women’s Caucus, a joint effort between the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis and the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. More than 90 percent of women who experience homelessness also experience physical and/or sexual assault, and domestic violence is the primary cause of homelessness among adult women. So HOPE WC’s primary focus is self-defense classes for women, as well as teaching women to become self-defense in-
structors so that they can spread that teaching to other women in shelters, on the street and elsewhere. To learn more, find HOPE WC on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In Chicago, Ill., an organization called Women Employed (womenemployed.org) is calling for wage reform. Although many people stereotype minimum-wage workers as teenagers earning a little extra spending money, 80 percent of minimum-wage workers are adults, and 59 percent are women—many of them with children and families to support. Working with Raise Illinois, Women Employed hopes to raise the Illinois minimum wage to $10.65 over the next four years.
Did you know?
One in four
women are abused by a partner in their lifetime.
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omen need security before they can begin to conquer the other demons in their lives. Until a woman feels both safe and financially secure, she often has a hard time working to move up the success ladder. Many
by Kathleen Mitchell
omen’s health in Jackson must encompass many things—healthy food, exercise and mental-health resources, to name a few—but wellness also depends on reproductive health, which is one of the areas where Mississippi is the farthest behind.
61% of women
who have children after enrolling in community college do not finish their education.
Nearly 7 in 10 Mississippi teens have had sex by the end of 12th grade.
SOURCE: THE WOMEN’S FOUNDATION
Locally, learn about: SOURCE: THE WOMEN’S FOUNDATION
Did you know?
Mississippi law does not require that sex education be evidence-based and/or medically accurate.
age of 14. SOURCE: FILM.MISSREPRESENTA-
March 19 - 25, 2014
In 2011, approximately 1000 Mississippi 50 of every 1,000 girls age 15-19 Mississippi girls age 15-19 gave birth. 50 SOURCE: THE WOMEN’S FOUNDATION
SOURCE: THE WOMEN’S FOUNDATION
SOURCE: THE WOMEN’S FOUNDATION
of teens in the U.S. have sex before the
A bit of good news: The U.S. teen birth rate for women age 15-19 decreased 25 percent from 2007-2011. Over that same period of time, Mississippi’s birth rate decreased even more than the national average, a 28 percent dip.
Credit Where It’s Due
Mississippi has the second highest teen birth rate in the country.
The Women's Foundation of Mississippi (120 N. Congress St., 601-326-0700, womensfoun dationms.org). Its website states that the Foundation “is the only grantmaking and advocacy organization in Mississippi entirely dedicated to funding programs that improve the lives of women and girls statewide.”
Cities to look to: The Women's Foundation looks to the state of South Carolina as a model, where rates of teen pregnancy have dropped considerably in recent years. Carol Penick, executive director of the Women’s Foundation, says the Fund has already adopted one program and implemented it here in Jackson—a website that provides medically accurate information about reproduction aimed at teens and their parents. FactNotFiction.com is Mississippi’s version. Next, the Foundation hopes to adopt a version of South Carolina’s grassroots Tell Them (tellthemsc.org) program, which advocates for improving the state’s sexual health policies. Its website states that “[i]ts purpose is to develop an online network of reproductive health advocates and provide
them with the up-to-date information and resources necessary to be active at all political levels. Tell Them advocates support age-appropriate, medically accurate health education and increased access to high-quality reproductive health counseling and services. Special emphasis is placed on meeting the needs of underserved young people who live in rural communities, where often there is no access to counseling or services, and where the rate of unintended pregnancies is sometimes three times the U.S. national rate and more than double the overall state rate.” In Memphis, Tenn., an organization called A Step Ahead Foundation (astepaheadfoundation.org) offers free long-acting reversible contraception— the ParaGard IUD, Mirena IUD and Nexplanon Implant—to anyone with a Shelby County zip code.
Jackson Women Power Players (Or Some Of Them) Carolyn Meyers, president of Jackson State University
Beverly Wade Hogan, president of Tougaloo College
Phylliss Anderson, Tribal Chief of Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
Jackson City Councilwoman Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, former
president and current board member at St. Dominic’s Beneta Burt, chair of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce
superintendent of the Hinds County School District Carol Burger, president and
CEO of United Way of the Capital Area
Patricia D. Wise, judge
and chancellor of the Hinds Fifth Chancery Court District Regina Quinn, attorney
Carey Wright, state
supervisor of education Sandy Middleton, executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention Julia Ann Harrison,
president of Homestar LLC
Help the JFP Chick Ball celebrate its 10th anniversary of helping keep metro families safer from abuse. Sign up now to sponsor, volunteer or donate for the silent auction.
Write email@example.com or call 601-362-6121 ext. 23 to get involved.
JFP Chick Ball | Saturday, July 19, 2014 6 p.m. to midnight | Mississippi Arts Center
Mary Ashley Wolverton,
CFO of Digital Imaging Group Creative Solutions Selena Swartzfager,
president of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education Candie Simmons, senior vice president of Regions Bank
These are just a few of the powerful female leaders in our city. Send us more power players to honor—email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mississippi Women Legislators House of Representatives Sonya Williams-Barnes Clara Burnett Kimberly L. Campbell Alyce G. Clark Angela Cockerham Linda F. Coleman Mary H. Coleman Carolyn Crawford Becky Currie Reecy L. Dickson Deborah Butler Dixon Esther Harrison Lataisha Jackson Wanda Jennings Sherra Hillman Lane
Rita Martinson Margaret Rogers Omeria Scott Jody Steverson Sara R. Thomas Linda Whittington Patricia H. Willis Adrienne Wooten Senate Lydia Graves Chassaniol Nancy Adams Collins Deborah Jeanne Dawkins Sally Doty Angela Burks Hill Rita Potts Parks
COURTESY JSU; COURTESY BEVERLY HOGAN; ; COURTESY PHYLLISS ANDERSON; TRIP BURNS; COURTESY ST DOMINICS; JACOB FULLER; COURTESY HINDS COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS; JERUTHA CRAWFORD; TRIP BURNS; TRIP BURNS; COURTESY CAREY WRIGHT; RACHEL BUSH; COURTESY HOMESTAR LLC; COURTESY MARY WOLVERTON; COURTESY SELENA SWARTZFAGER; COURTESY UMMC
by JFP Staff
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