v18n17 - Amazing Teens 2020

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Dr. Marian Talley

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Phone Number: (601) 990-6896


Phone Number: (662) 298-3584



April 15 - 28, 2020 Vol. 18 No. 17

ON THE COVER Skye McKey Photo courtesy Skye McKey

4 Editor’s Note 7 Talks

9 Woes of the Unsheltered


or new parents, a trip to the neonatal intensive care unit for their baby can be a very scary experience. Nurses like Shannon Alsobrooks help make the time less stressful for parents by providing their little ones with the best care possible. Graduating from St. Joseph Catholic School in 2013, Alsobrooks attended the University of Southern Mississippi for two years before transferring to the University of Mississippi Medical Center to begin nursing school. She needed only one clinical rotation through one of the hospital’s most critical units for her to decide which specialty was for her: the newborn intensive care unit. “We had a clinical in the NICU, and I was so nervous to go to it,” Alsobrooks says. “I was scared of how overwhelming it was there, but when I got there I just fell in love.” Earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2017, Alsobrooks immediately went to work in the hospital’s NICU. At the state’s only Level IV neonatal facility, she coordinates with a specialized care team of doctors, therapists and other medical professionals to ensure that their smallest patients receive meticulous care. She also teaches parents how to properly care for their newborns by providing physical instruction and emotional support. “It can be incredibly (difficult) to find the right word to say to someone who is facing their worst day ever. You have to be compas-

12 It’s OK, Teenagers

Shannon Alsobrooks sionate, but also stick up for your little patient,” she said. “(But it is) always exciting to see patients grow and come back to visit us.” Alsobrooks, who lives in Jackson with her husband, Kolbe, says that even with COVID-19, operations have largely continued as they had before. As a common practice the nurses have always “scrubbed in” before each shift and anytime they enter the nursery. Parents may still visit their baby’s bedsides, albeit one at a time. Very strict guidelines were already in place for visitors, including washing hands to above the elbows for three minutes with soap provided before entering the nursery, using the alcohol foam provided at each baby’s bedside whenever they touch anything other than their baby or their station and wearing a gown over clothing when holding the baby. The unit has, however, committed to social-distancing guidelines. “It hasn’t changed how we care for patients,” Alsobrooks says. “The NICU always had the best handwashing practices.” In the three years since she began her career, Alsobrooks has had rewarding moments and emotional ones. Nevertheless, Alsobrooks knows she is where she belongs. “I love working with the babies and helping the parents,” she says. “I can’t see myself doing anything different. It is an amazing place where miracles happen.” —Torsheta Jackson

Maisie Brown assures her fellow teens that their feelings of discouragement due to COVID-19 are valid.

14 Amazing Teens 2020 19 Arts 20 Food 21 Music 22 DIY Mask 24 Puzzle 24 Sorensen 25 astro 25 Classifieds

26 JFP’s Acacia Clark Get to know valued team member, freelance photographer Acacia Clark.

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

courtesy Shannon Alsobrooks

Essential workers share their honest testimonies as to how COVID-19 has affected their lives.


editor’s note

by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief


s I typed Tuesday morning, April 14, public-school administrators, parents, teachers and students had no idea whether they were going back to school next week. Gov. Tate Reeves hadn’t yet shared his decision, even as most of us knew it was impossible to re-open schools this semester as the state’s COVID19 cases and death toll still climb. Nevertheless, school staff prepared to re-open schools, using wasted taxpayer resources, while trying to navigate new realities, and care for their own children and livelihoods while they waited. It’s not that far off from Reeves taking way too long to declare a statewide shelter-in-place order to keep COVID-19 from spreading in Mississippi. It’s a strange timeline. Before he went to Spain for spring break with his family—where and when COVID-19 was already a serious issues—

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

This is beyond amateurish. It’s repulsive.


he actually set up a COVID-19 task force. Then, he left the country. Reeves returned the Friday of spring break with coronavirus hitting us all fully in the face. That, by the way, was the first official day our staff started working remotely to help flatten the curve and stay safe. Maybe Reeves was jet-lagged, because he didn’t immediately grab a microphone to tell Mississippians to stay home to stop the spread. Over the next week, we kept hearing from people shocked by close gatherings on beaches, in flea markets, in restaurants, at auto auctions, in churches, right at the pivotal time when stronger, smarter leadership could have helped contain the spread and, frankly, keep some Mississippians alive who have died since then. Finally, under a lot of pressure from citizens of all political stripes, mayors across the state and this newspaper, Reeves finally issued a weak executive order on March 24. It mostly provided an expansive list of “essential” businesses and operations exempt from social-distancing and closing rules, including car sales, gun shops, churches, department stores, shopping centers and even “offices.” (The latter three weren’t on the “essential” list, but he still managed to exempt them, which caused major confu-

sion and worker fear in upcoming days.) The order also was a clear override of any attempts by local governments to limit his laundry list of essentials. His staff and friends in media then tried to deny that he had done a lot of what he said in black-andwhite in the order, even personally attacking me and reporter Nick Judin for reporting what he wrote. It was a hot mess. It took until Wednesday, April 1, for Reeves to bow to pressure and issue a shelter-in-place order—24 hours after he had taken great pains to explain why issuing one in just one county (Lauderdale) made a lick of sense. By then, of course, many people had come into contact with those infected with the virus, and the rest is tragic history. Reeves showed that he can, however, make haste with anything connected to conservative political wedge issues. Just two days after he belatedly issued the shelter-at-home with excuses about it just then being needed, Reeves quietly signed a Confederate Heritage Month proclamation on April 3. Now, this embrace of the “heritage” of a treasonous war to maintain and extend slavery is horrific any year, and makes Mississippi look back-assward, but doing it this year was mortifying. For one thing, we knew by then that many of the early deaths were African American. Nick and I had started asking for race demographics of the COVID-19 cases and deaths well before—him at press briefings and me daily in social media, tagging the Mississippi State Department of Health and Reeves. Importantly, Reeves and State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs knew when the governor signed that Confederate glorification document that black Mississippians were disproportionately contracting and dying from the coronavirus.

courtesy State of Mississippi

Gov. Tate Reeves Has Failed the COVID-19 Leadership Test

Gov. Tate Reeves is using COVID-19 to play politics with Mississippians’ lives, only invoking the Constitution when it serves the political interests of his voter base.

Still, as we discovered two days later on the Sons of Confederate Veterans Facebook page, Reeves signed that proclamation and gave it to SCV, much as former Gov. Phil Bryant used to do. But here’s the thing: I really don’t think even Bryant would show the kinds of callous leadership Reeves is showing. Last year, for instance, in 2019, Bryant signed a Unity Month proclamation instead of honoring the Confederacy, urged by a Christian racial-reconciliation group out in Flowood, Reeves’ hometown. On top of that, Reeves has given special dispensation to gun stores, saying he was honoring the Second Amendment (which doesn’t mention regulation of sales) and going after mayors who tried to enforce social distancing in churches, saying the Constitution doesn’t allow government to close them during a pandemic. (Churches are a major hotspot for coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. and elsewhere.)


Seyma Bayram

Torsheta Jackson

Richard Coupe

Staff Reporter Seyma Bayram is from the Kurdish region of Turkey and grew up in The Netherlands and New York. She is a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School and the State University of New York at Binghamton. She wrote about how COVID-19 has affected small businesses.

Freelance writer Torsheta Jackson is originally from Shuqualak, Miss. A wife and mother of four, she freelances and is a certified lactation counselor. She wrote about JXN Transplants. She wrote about Jacksonian Shannon Alsobrooks this week.

Recently returned from living in France, Richard Coupe is a scientist, occasional writer, soccer referee, and once more, against all odds, the owner of a house needing much work. He wrote about several Amazing Teens for this issue.

But Reeves’ devotion to constitutional rights did not extend to women. He banned abortion on Friday, April 10, saying they are an “elective” surgery and the protective gear is needed for COVID-19 cases. Problem there is that Reeves told the hard-right American Family Association president just the day before on his radio show that he was using the same strategy the Texas governor used to stop abortions during the COVID-19 crisis—basically to pretend it was to preserve PPEs. To recap: Reeves’ leadership logic says it’s OK to endanger people’s lives to keep churches and guns stores open using a constitutional excuse, but then ignore constitutional precedent on a procedure Mississippi women have the legal right to choose. Bottom line: A real leader would put politics and his 2023 re-election aside right now to save lives. Reeves must stop delaying needed safety precautions in an extraordinary time while using the pandemic as political red meat for his (and Donald Trump’s) voter base. He should stop ensuring that the State will spend even more in legal fees over abortion lawsuits, especially since he foolishly went on the radio to make it clear that he was about to violate the constitutional rights of Mississippi women. Reeves should also rescind and apologize for “Confederate Heritage Month.” Oh, and stop blaming a non-existent statute for making him sign a celebration of a war for slavery while black people can’t even have funerals to properly bury their dead. This lack of leadership and treatment of Mississippians is beyond partisanship, and more than amateurish. It’s repulsive. Twitter and Instagram:@donnerkay.

Get Help with Health Coverage, Today If you have lost your job due to COVID-19, Health Help Mississippi may be able to assist you. Mississippians who lose the ability to work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for Medicaid or ACA Marketplace coverage. If you or someone you know needs health care coverage, a member of the Health Help Mississippi team can help you review your options. Call or visit us online today.


April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms



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April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms





storytelling & re, ir tu

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“They thought about servers and people who had lost their jobs, and they thought about big business. But the small business, it feels like a throwaway. It feels like we were an absolute afterthought.”




— Mitchell Moore, Jackson restaurateur and baker.

ce eren rev

With No Relief In Sight, Business Owners Struggle by Seyma Bayram

courtesy Emmie King

Emmie King, who is working to save her candy manufacturing and retail business, Nandy’s Candy, is concerned that the timeline on which PPP and SBA loans operate do not take into account the more recent cost increases businesses may have incurred.

a payroll. But if a person is self-employed and files a schedule C on their tax returns, and their contractors pay that individual directly, the self-employed person can apply for PPP even without a payroll. They can instead report losses in their net income. Although he is grateful for the relief options available to small-business owners struggling because of the novel coronavirus, Paige wishes the packages were more inclusive of all industries. “It does limit my options,” Paige said. He recently worked with his accountant to apply for the low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the Small Business Administration—his most promising option at the moment. He also applied for unemployment benefits. Paige is concerned about the pressure the SBA loan places on small businesses to take out additional loans. Most small business owners must already incur

debt in order to be able to start a business, he explained. “I would have liked to see a little more grant money or an easier way to do the grant money than the loan, because as a business owner, we already have loans that we are paying back, so we’re actually adding more debt to our debt-to-income ratio,” Paige said. “Now we’ve got the choice of completely going broke or going out of business or taking on more debt that we’re still going to have to pay off when we already had debt we were paying (off),” he said. Paige is also concerned about the confusion stemming from the SBA loan application process. “I heard from other business owners they’re having a hard time just getting the process done. Some just don’t know to go apply for some of this stuff,” he said. He has been using his own social-

media pages to direct his network toward online unemployment, SBA, and PPP applications. Just six days ago, he had to resubmit his unemployment application because his previous application suddenly disappeared from the Mississippi Department of Employee Security website. Impact on Black Businesses The COVID-19 pandemic has hit small businesses, which typically do not have more than two weeks’ worth of working capital funds at any given time, especially hard in recent weeks. Despite the fact that the SBA has promised small business owners up to $2 million in loans each for damages due to COVID-19, many businesses are struggling to secure even a fraction of what was offered to them. In addition to long processing times, on April 9, the SBA began notifying those more BUSINESS STRUGGLE, p 8

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms


ike many small-business owners, Chris Paige had to abruptly close the doors of his south Jackson barber shop, Custom Cuts & Styles, because of COVID-19. That decision has not only cost him, but also the three other barbers who work inside his business. “That really affects me because you know, I just hate to have to see someone out of work. Because that’s how we feed our families,” the father of three girls told the Jackson Free Press in early April. A native of Jackson’s Washington Addition neighborhood, Paige has been a licensed barber for 21 years, though he has been cutting hair for longer. After working for others for nearly a decade, the former Academy of Hair Design instructor saw an opportunity in 2010 to invest in south Jackson, an area he knew intimately since childhood. Paige found a storefront on Terry Road—a well-traveled thoroughfare that promised to bring in a lot of customers— and applied for and received a City of Jackson small-business development grant. This August will mark the barbershop’s 10-year anniversary. He also opened Paige Barber Supply two years ago. The supply store, too, is closed because of the pandemic. Paige does not have employees on payroll. Like many other barbershop and salon owners, he rents out space in his shop to other barbers, who function as independent contractors with their own clientele. As such, he is not sure that he is eligible for the Payroll Protection Plan. “I have people that subcontract inside the shop with me. … They don’t get a W2, I don’t pay them,” Paige said. “The money that they were paying me for their chair—I don’t know how I can be compensated for that because they’re not my employees,” he added. Paige’s eligibility for PPP depends on whether he is a self-employed, sole proprietor or operating as an entity, Jackson-based attorney David Humphreys confirmed to the Jackson Free Press on April 14. For an entity—such as an LLC or S-corp partnership—to be eligible for PPP, they must have



BUSINESS STRUGGLE, from page 7 Credit unions like Hope serve businesses and people that banks and governments have historically underserved. This includes people of color, which represent 80% of Hope’s clients, women, and people who earn less than $35,000 a year, who account for about half of the credit union’s client base. “They’re going to really have to get that money down to the CFIs (community financial institutions), to the small communities, to the small credit unions … in order to reach the masses of small businesses that may not have that banking relationship to receive the money through the traditional routes,” Bynum said. He also called on lawmakers to consider consumer protection measures during the pandemic, given the likelihood of an increase in predatory loans that can further entrap business owners and individuals in debt. Courtesy Chris Paige

whom it did approve that they would In an April 9 call with the Misin fact not receive more than $15,000 sissippi Black Legislative Caucus to each. A day later, the U.S. Chamber discuss the impact of COVID-19 on black Mississippians, Hope Credit of Commerce sent a letter to Congress Union CEO William Bynum warned requesting additional Economic Injury of the difficulties that the private-bank Disaster Loans and Payroll Protection Plan funds, warning that “such limited economic relief will be insufficient for a great many main street employers.” “No family and no business should be bankrupted by the temporary economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” the letter concluded. Advocates worry that minority-owned businesses, which already operate on an uneven playing field, will suffer the most. A 2020 Brookings Institute study on the devaluation of businesses in majority-black neighborhoods, for example, pointed out that black-owned businesses struggle significantly more than their white counterparts to secure loans. Despite the inflated risks the novel coronavirus poses for minority-owned businesses, Congress earmarked just $10 million—or Chris Paige, owner of the south Jackson barber 1%—of its $2.2 trillion COVID- shop Custom Cuts & Styles, said he wishes that 19 stimulus package to fund the governmental relief were more inclusive of all Minority Business Development industries suffering during the pandemic. Agency, which works to connect minority-owned businesses to loan and loan requirement poses for most, nongrant opportunities. traditional small businesses in America, In an April 6 phone interview, Rep. and black businesses in particular. Jarvis Dortch, D-Jackson, pointed out an “They’re going to take a major hit,” additional barrier that could prevent small Bynum said on the call. and minority business owners from ac The federal government must do cessing government relief. The SBA is not more to ensure that relief funds reach those disbursing funds directly to businesses but who are most at need, he said, especially rather to private banks. business owners who do not have relation “I think private banks are making ships with large private banks or who are their own rules on who they’re going to deemed ineligible for SBA relief by them. serve, who they’re going to make a priority,” Dortch said. He noted that Bank of America, for example, is requiring SBA applicants to have already banked with them prior to the pandemic in order to be eligible for a loan. On April 13, U.S. District Court ith the sheltering at home order still in Judge Stephanie Gallagher declined to place, some of us may be beginning to grant an injunction against the bank afexperience a degree of listlessness or irter Maryland small business owners filed ritability. In other words, we are getting a federal class-action lawsuit against it for stir-crazy! To keep from unraveling like a yarn prioritizing existing clients. sweater caught on a doornail, here are some ideas for enduring our prolonged stay inside. A group of advocates from across the state, including lawmakers, have Give yourself a personal project. Set a goal been holding tele-town hall meetings in for yourself and work toward accomplishing recent weeks to provide business owners it. Keeping my mind busy on something positive with information on how to apply for has certainly helped me stay sane, and the sense and secure a loan. of achievement afterward is a plus. Whether it be

Watching for Predators Ed Sivak, executive vice president of policy and communications at Hope, echoed the need for consumer protections. One of his clients, who recently struggled to meet mortgage payments, turned to another lender who in turn contacted Hope to obtain additional information about the client. The loan, Hope discovered before the client signed it, had a 700% interest rate. “It just goes to show that as resources come in, there’s going to be financial predators out there trying to take advantage of people. We saw this after Hurricane Katrina,” Sivak told the Jackson Free Press in an April 14 phone interview. He emphasized the necessity of ad-

ditional protective policy solutions as the government disperses $1,200 stimulus checks, namely debt and fine-collection suspensions and other debt relief so that people can receive their checks in their entirety. “At this time, again, we need to make sure that all resources available are directed towards meeting the needs of people that need them most,” Sivak said. More than half of Mississippi households experience liquid asset poverty, meaning that they do not have savings to enable them to survive beyond three months in the event of income loss, a Prosperity Now Asset and Opportunities Scorecard found. For black Mississippians, the situation is even more grim: 72% of black households cannot afford to go without an income for three months. Hope Credit Union has seen a high demand for SBA loan assistance and PPP, Sivak said. “So far we’ve had 104 requests totaling $28 million of small-business owners that we are going to be supporting through that program. And it’s a wide swath of businesses,” Sivak said. “Pest-control businesses, childcare centers, and home health and restaurants, hospitals—rural hospitals—housing developers. … All of these are businesses, Mississippi businesses, in need of support,” Sivak said. ‘It’s Going to Take the Community’ Last Christmas season, Emmie King, who owns Nandy’s Candy in Maywood Mart in Jackson purchased a health-insurance policy for her employees. Her landlord also increased the rent for the building in which she operates. King, who is trying to save her family’s 39-year-old candy manufacturing and retail more BUSINESS STRUGGLE, p 10


W 1.

by Nate Schumann reading a book that has gone untouched on your shelf for years, starting that novel you have been mulling over or even binging a television series from your ever-growing queue, being engaged in a fun task may help put you at greater ease.


Find ways to be social, from a distance. Technology allows us to commune with people not in our homes. Getting together over video chat to play an online game or to simply have a verbal conversation can help restore our social health, which is as important as our physical and mental health.


Attune to nature. Research suggests that demonstrating even brief interactions with nature can improve cognitive function and support a positive mood. So take a breather and safely venture outside for some fresh air and take in the scenery. And, of course, exercise reduces stress.

Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

Ideas for Coping with Cabin Fever



Essential Workers Bearing Weight of COVID-19


lex Marten is tired. You can see it in his eyes, surrounded by the telltale wrinkles of his unending shifts bundled in protective gear. You can hear it in his voice, no more clearly than when he responds to the elegiac praise politicians and corporate brands heap on health-care professionals like him in the days of coronavirus. “It’s a token,” he says curtly, “a way to show appreciation without doing anything to help us.”

send their infant son to stay with family. Marten’s decision-making operates around the calculus of the present moment. “We don’t want to become a drain on resources rather than an asset,” he said. Still, knows he is lucky to be insulated from the economic crisis that trails COVID-19. “I am thankful I have a job—I know a lot of people aren’t even able to work right now. At a minimum, the financial stuff, we should be sheltered from that.” Courtesy Eric Bennett

Eric Bennett stocks the shelves at a Shopper’s Value market in Clinton. While he sees the attempts at social distancing manifesting all around him, he says elements of daily life make full isolation impossible.

Marten, who asked not to be identified by his real name, is a nurse at a Mississippi hospital with several confirmed cases of COVID-19. He spoke to the Jackson Free Press about the experience of being an essential worker, exempted from the shelter-at-home order to care for patients in one of the highest risk environments in the nation today. “It’s personal for us,” he admits, speaking of his wife. As the novel coronavirus approached, they had to make the decision to

‘Unprepared for Catastrophes’ At Alex Marten’s hospital, which he declined to name, personal protective equipment is heavily rationed: nurses stretch out single-use masks for a week’s worth of shifts. Marten sees the structure of our health-care system as the source of the impending calamity. “It’s painfully obvious that no one was prepared for an event like this. Because hospitals don’t want to keep a supply of medical equipment that doesn’t see an immediate use,” he explained.

The phenomenon of “just in time” management applies to far more than hospitals; it is a cost-cutting approach that attempts to finely synchronize supply and demand to reduce overhead costs to a sliver. “It’s like running a Walmart,” Marten said. “You stock what you’re expected to use in a given timeframe. But that can’t prepare you for unforeseen circumstances.” This leaves hospitals in a terrible position to fight off a pandemic that calls for masses of protective gear, ventilators, hospital beds and trained medical professionals, Marten says, adding that he doesn’t have much hope for a market solution. “We are, on a business level, so used to operating on razor-thin margins, that we’re unprepared for these catastrophes,” he said. Marten worries that hospital administration is too removed to make critical choices. “The people that are making all of these business decisions aren’t the ones who are in the patients’ rooms, giving the care. They’re getting their information from middle-management,” Marten said. They, too, lack a clear picture of what health-care workers need, he added. To Marten, the problem is structural, and requires a structural solution. But individuals can do one small thing to make the work day easier. “People do appreciate offers of food. Safe, catered food is a big morale boost,” the nurse said. ‘Not Sure What I’d Do’ Eric Bennett works as a stocker at the Shopper’s Value market in Clinton. Three days a week, he joins his fellow essential workers in breaking down new shipments of food supplies and placing them on shelves, usually as crowds mill past for daily shopping. Bennett said in an interview that he has mostly remained calm through the pandemic, with some anxious moments. “There was a point when the first announcements went out that we could potentially end up quarantined, and all the panic buying happened,” Bennett said. “They had to start scheduling employees much more aggressively. That was my biggest fear. The more I had to be up there, the more likely I was to get sick. And if I got sick, my parents were going to get sick.” Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. has discovered the novel coronavirus in more than 1,500 supermarket employees since the beginning of the crisis, with thousands more quarantined after possible expo-

sures. Commercial unions are fighting for recognition of their food-service and grocery-store employees as first responders, in the hopes that this will give them priority access to PPE, including masks. Across the Jackson metro over the weekend, many grocery stores were in the uneasy rhythm of the shelter-in-place order. Signs announced responsible guidelines for distancing. Cashiers sheltered behind plastic shields separating the customers in their lines. Easter felt more like Halloween, with shoppers and workers alike clad in varieties of masks as they went about their day. But the insufficiency of our public spaces for a crisis like this was also clear. At the Ridgeland Costco, opened just in time for its first global pandemic, an effective system for moving customers through the checkout bank kept shoppers distant and protected. But everywhere else in the store where queues inevitably formed, people packed shoulder to shoulder, with little ability to stay more separate. Bennett has a mask, and Shopper’s Value provides its employees with latex gloves. “I’m less at risk than the cashiers are, but I’m out there on the aisles while customers are in the store, and I have to just hope they practice social distancing,” Bennett said. He acknowledged that most customers and employees are trying their best. But, he said, a certain degree of exposure is ultimately unavoidable. At the Jackson Kroger, the tight aisles are often filled with patrons. Nationally, the grocery chain announced April 7 that it was limiting its stores to 50% of their regular capacity. The impact was hard to see in the Jackson store the next weekend. Painter’s masks, surgical gear and colorful scarves aside, it felt much like any shopping day. Bennett, who does not have health insurance, said the federal guarantee that it would cover COVID-19 treatment even for the uninsured was a weight off his shoulders. But he admitted his lack of coverage was a gamble he continually has to take. “The likelihood of me needing health insurance is pretty slim. But if I were to come down with something serious….” Bennett paused for a moment, doing the same hurried risk analysis as the other 27 million uninsured Americans. “I’m not really sure what I’d do,” he said. Failing Rural America For Mississippi’s wage workers, the more FRONTLINE p 10

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

by Nick Judin





Northern District Public Services Commissioner Brandon Presley says rampant deregulation has turned the telecommunications industry into “the wild, wild west.”

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic,” Presley said. “This has been an unmitigated mess.” The commissioner said AT&T had missed deadline after deadline for restoring service to Tippah County—calling it the inevitable consequence of the government’s lax hand with regulation. “The market has failed rural Amer-

ica. The rush to deregulation has turned the telecommunications industry into the Wild, Wild West. There are basic functions of telecommunications that should be regulated. They should be required to let customers know if they’re going to take towers out of service,” he said. The Jackson Free Press could not reach AT&T’s regional office by press time. ‘Society-Wide Change’ Many workers feared speaking on the record for this story, concerned about losing their jobs during a global pandemic, as a potentially devastating recession kicks in. A singular understanding tied most of the interviews together—that business as usual has left the working class exposed to immense danger in this time of crisis. “It just feels as if we have been thrown away, written off as the ones who will have to get sick—and then they move in the next employee, until they get sick, and so on. Where is our safety net? Do we shut up and take our fate? I’m terrified of what my future holds and the future of my family,” one worker said on background. In his role as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Presley plans to create a COVID-19 task force to explore these questions: “We’re going to jot down lessons learned. One thing we already know is that minimumwage workers hold this economy together. But how do we make sure those workers are taken care of and ensure that we are recognizing their worth?” He said the first step was a broader respect for labor. “Anybody who says there’s not been

1. “SCV: Gov. Tate Reeves Proclaimed ‘Confederate Heritage Month’ on April 3” by Donna Ladd 2. “‘When Is the $600 Coming?’: Mississippi Unemployment Questions Answered” by Todd Stauffer 3. “Reeves to Issue Shelter-in-Place as COVID-19 Cases Swell to 1,073 in Mississippi” by Nick Judin 4. “Governor Rejects State Lockdown For COVID-19: ‘Mississippi’s Never Going to Be China’” Nick Judin 5. “Mayor Lumumba: Jackson Police Will Enforce Strong Stay-at-Home Order” by Seyma Bayram

a tendency to look down on blue-collar workers is living in an alternate reality,” Presley insisted. “Once you have that respect, everything flows from that.” Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, pointed out the lack of institutional support for workers. “Mississippi needs to address the lack of protection for workers beyond this crisis. We need a separate and distinct Department of Labor to show the state’s commitment to fair and balanced labor laws,” he said, stressing that Mississippi is one of the only states in the nation without its own labor department. Alex Marten agrees. “This is going to require a society-wide change. My fear is that by the time this is over and done with, we’ll wipe the sweat from our brow, say ‘Whew, that was close,’ and move on without making changes that will prevent the next disaster,” the nurse said. Email nick@jacksonfreepress.com. Read more at jacksonfreepress.com/COVID19.


business, said that the timeline on which the PPP and SBA loans operate do not take into account the more recent cost increases businesses may have incurred. Nevertheless, she applied for PPP, which would allow her to keep her business afloat for at least 2.5 more months, if it is approved. The businesswoman is aware that governmental relief is not going to be enough, especially when most small businesses already have outstanding loans. She wishes that the government had acted earlier so that businesses could have had more opportunity to prepare for the fall-out. “It’s not going to be this (PPP) loan which saves the business, it’s really going to be the hard work of my employees and the work of me to reduce costs, to find places to save,” she said on April 13. That will likely include forgoing a paycheck for herself, she added. While King is grateful that she can still conduct some business curbside, she knows that her barber and nail-technician colleagues do not have that option. “I know it hurts a lot of businesses that may never come back. I think that’s a fear for all of us,” she said. King intends to do all that she can to sustain her business, but she and other small-business owners will need the


April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms


That means holding corporations accountable, especially those who manage massive utilities, Presley said. He cited the case of Tippah County in north Mississippi, which lost its AT&T service beginning on March 3 as a scheduled, but unannounced, upgrade came online. COURTESY MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC SERVICES

daily challenges of employment are only half the story. For many of those furloughed or suffering hour reductions, the prospect of losing their homes and utilities is real. Gov. Tate Reeves ordered an eviction freeze for Mississippi as part of the executive order establishing shelter-inplace statewide, which began April 3 and is scheduled to last until April 20. But Mississippi Public Services Commissioner Brandon Presley talked in an interview of at least a dozen reports of eviction notices or attempts at backdoor evictions through utility shutoffs, a practice Presley stressed violates the executive order. “Ninety-nine percent of landlords are doing the right thing,” Presley said. But the Northern District commissioner, who describes himself as an “FDR Democrat,” said the federal government must do more to protect tenants in the new recession. “There has to be a federal intervention with money. The truth is if you don’t do that you risk taking a roof over people’s heads. (Homeowners) have the ability to defer or forbear mortgage and utility payments,” Presley said. He suggested that the federal government should extend similar protections to the roughly 43 million Americans who rent. Further federal investment, Presley said, should aim squarely at small businesses and average workers. “First and foremost, there needs to be a strong focus on Main Street,” he said. “For our small-business owners who are employers, to keep people on the payroll. For there to be a further recognition of the people who have held together the knitting of our economy.”


After the COVID-19 pandemic forced local business owner Mitchell Moore to shutter three of his restaurants, he has baked and sold bread and other goods to support his employees.

support of the local community to aid them towards recovery, King told the Jackson Free Press. “I think it’s going to take the community, not just an SBA loan, to make everything come back. I think it’s really going to be the kindness of the American people,” King said. ‘We Were an Absolute Afterthought’ Jackson restaurateur Mitchell Moore had to shut down all three of his businesses—including a fourmonth-old donut shop Belhaven—after people stopped coming in because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Like many other business owners in the city, Moore had to get creative to keep his family afloat and support his employees during the pandemic. “I realize that all of my staff, they’re in the same boat that I’m in,” Moore said in an April 3 phone interview. “We have nothing, literally nothing.” He has been working 60-hour weeks, baking bread and selling other baked goods through take-out popups at Campbell’s Bakery in Fondren (Monday through Friday) and Campbell’s Craft Donuts in Belhaven

PPP, Unemployment, SBA Loans


(Friday and Saturday), and sharing sales proceeds with his employees, some of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck or rent homes. At the same time, Moore has been exploring what kind of governmental relief he can benefit from as a small business owner. Moore is disappointed that the federal government has protected large corporations, while doing what he says is comparatively little to support small business owners who are particularly vulnerable right now. “You’ve got bail-outs for big business,” he noted. “They don’t actually have to physically pay that back, but for us, for small business people, their solution is, ‘here you go, take a loan.’ Well, I don’t want to take a loan,” he said. Moore is already in debt as a result

of opening his newest business in Belhaven, and now that he finally owns his two other businesses, he is hesitant to go into debt again. Though he lauded lawmakers for bridging partisan lines and coming to a swift decision, Mitchell wishes that they had considered the scope of the pandemic’s impact on small businesses. “I’m really disappointed that this is the solution that they came up with, out of $2 trillion,” he said. “They thought about servers and people who had lost their jobs, and they thought about big business. But the small business, it feels like a throwaway,” he said. “It feels like we were an absolute afterthought,” Moore said. Email city reporter Seyma Bayram at seyma@jacksonfreepress.com and follow her on Twitter at @SeymaBayram0.

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he Payroll Protection Plan, which the government is ostensibly offering to businesses in operation since before Feb. 15, offers loans of two-and-a-half times that business’ average monthly payroll cost, though it does contain some restrictions, such as a $100,000 salary cap per employee. If businesses use PPP funds to cover payroll, including paid sick leave, health insurance and retirement plan contributions, the government will forgive that portion of the loan, essentially turning it into a grant. People who have been laid off or sent home without pay, and workers who have contracted COVID-19 or are caring for someone with the disease can apply for unemployment through the Mississippi Department of Employee Security. Mississippi small-business owners can also apply for the low-interest disaster assistance loan, called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, or EIDL, from now until Dec. 21, 2020. Specifically for COVID-19 response, a $10,000 emergency advance is also available to businesses that apply for the loan. Businesses are not required to pay back the $10,000 advance, which functions like a grant, regardless of whether or not they qualify for the loan, Jackson attorney David Humphreys confirmed April 3. (If you receive both an EIDL advance and PPP loan, some of that overall number may not be fully forgiven, Humphreys said.) Business owners should assess the impact of the novel coronavirus on their operations from Jan. 31, the date the virus entered the U.S., and compare it with their prior years of operation. Applicants must prove that they have experienced a loss in their revenue or production because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they must have fewer than 500 employees. Applicants can benefit from up to $2 million each in loans for damages due to COVID-19. Interest rates vary, from 3.75% for small businesses to 2.75% for “most private nonprofit organizations,” Lampton said. The funds can pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other general expenses, Lampton said. Businesses registered in the State of Mississippi and have filed tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service—a schedule C for sole proprietorships or a corporate tax return for corporations—are eligible. During a March 20 teleconference call, Michael Lampton of the SBA explained that while the SBA takes into account a business’ credit history in determining whether or not to approve the loan, people should apply regardless of their credit. Businesses can extend repayment for up to 30 years and defer payments for up to one year, he said. Applications are available at www.sba.gov/disaster. Applicants can also call 1-800-659-2955 to request a paper application and to ask questions related to the loan.


Maisie Brown


s my classmates and I left Murrah High School on the Friday before spring break, our minds were filled with the excitement of vacations, freedom and, of course, the year’s end that seemed reserved for all things senior year. But instead we were faced with something none of us could have imagined: a global pandemic. What we thought would be one of the most exciting breaks of our lives soon turned into a time of panic, fear and pure incoherence. We were being told it was just a bad cold. People die from it as often as they die from the flu. This too shall pass. But it didn’t. The diagnosis then started to hit closer to home. People we knew started to die. We watched them pile the remains of human bodies on the back of moving trucks on television. It seemed like we were in the middle of a dystopian novel we’d read in class. In the midst of us searching for some sort of reason as to why this was all happening, we were being forced to wholeheartedly accept our new normal and somehow find relevance in things we’d partaken in before our worlds seemed to crash. Instead of mental-health assurance, we received schedules detailing how classes would run. Instead of briefings that provided clarity as to exactly what was go-

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

These activities aren’t just moments, they’re memories.


ing on, we were sent loads of work. Instead of being consoled that everything we’d be looking for was becoming bleak, we were told and shown that the show must go on. Though some of us may have viewed home as a safe space away from the sometimes toxic world of steadfast academia, we were forced to transform those areas into just that. It started with the small things. We were told school may get pushed back for a while, but we would be sure to return. The hospitals may get a little busy, but it will all slow back down. We were

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Teenagers, It’s OK to Feel Hurt By What We’ve Lost to COVID-19

Editor-in-Chief and CEO Donna Ladd Publisher & President Todd Stauffer Associate Publisher Kimberly Griffin Creative Director Kristin Brenemen REPORTERS AND WRITERS City Reporter Seyma Bayram State Reporter Nick Judin Culture Reporter Aliyah Veal Contributing Reporter Ashton Pittman, State Intern Julian Mills Contributing Writers Dustin Cardon, Bryan Flynn, Alex Forbes, Jenna Gibson, Tunga Otis Torsheta Jackson, Mike McDonald, Anne B. Mckee, Mauricio J. Quijano EDITORS AND OPERATIONS Deputy Editor Nate Schumann JFPDaily.com Editor Dustin Cardon Executive Assistant Azia Wiggins Listings Editor Kayode Crown Consulting Editor JoAnne Prichard Morris ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY Senior Designer Zilpha Young Contributing Photographers Seyma Bayram, Acacia Clark, Nick Judin, Imani Khayyam, Ashton Pittman, Brandon Smith

Murrah High School senior Maisie Brown writes that adults too often undermine and discredit the pain of not getting to graduate in a cap and gown or attend senior prom in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

assured that this disease could never affect a country like ours like it had overseas. They were wrong. We were wrong. Small delays turned into full-blown cancellations. Prom was no longer a thing. Senior week? You could forget it. Graduation? We just don’t know what to tell you. And while it may seem childlike or even selfish to dwell on “small” inconveniences when chaos and disarray is so rampant, it is easy to write off the feelings of young people without any sort of empathy. Too often, adults undermine and discredit the hurt feelings of my age group simply because we haven’t lived long enough or worked hard enough to afford to feel the way that we do. We’re told that we haven’t suffered in enough ways to earn the right to complain about anything, if much at all. How can we expect this generation to extend any type of comfort or courage to each other when we can’t even receive it from those we look up to? The principle is much larger than a simple dance in our nice dresses and having five seconds on stage in our cap and gown. It’s bigger than those last few bus rides we will have with our class on our way to today’s activity. It’s bigger than that one day everyone plans to skip and simply indulge in themselves. These activities aren’t just moments, they’re memories. They act as a symbol. A bridge. They serve as the entryway to a new, unknown chapter so many of us have looked forward to since the moment

we entered high school. For so many students, the idea of graduating from any school seemed far away, unattainable or simply not worth it. And this moment. This memory. This opportunity. It served as a representation of the years of hard work we all tirelessly put in to achieve the prosperity we were promised would come along with it. But now we will never get that transition and celebration that so many others had. All we can get is a heartfelt apology and a pat on the back telling us how God is still in control. While we’re taught to believe everything happens for a reason, I think it’s important to acknowledge that not every bad thing comes with a lesson on the other side. Sometimes bad is just that, bad. And we have to stop searching for reasons as to why we should be grateful or any less hurt by any of this. Sometimes it’s OK to just allow us to sulk and be a little sad about it. There’s no harm in that. As we all know, no storm lasts forever. Our sunshine is coming soon. I can almost feel it. And to the class of 2020, you may now turn your tassels. Our time has just begun. Maisie Brown is a senior at Murrah High School and has contributed columns to the Jackson Free Press since she was 14. She will attend North Carolina A&T University this fall. This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the JFP.

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2020 W

hile COVID-19 has forced school closures, the Jackson Free Press is still recognizing some of the rising stars of the Jackson metro through our annual Amazing Teens issue. These students have exhibited remarkable talent, community service and character throughout their high-school careers. We honor these young men and women and know that they will continue to make Jackson proud as they navigate the future and continue to be upstanding individuals.

Courtni Sutton

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

courtesy Courtni Sutton

Courtni Sutton, a senior at Forest Hill High School, engages in a variety of extracurricular activities. In addition to memberships in her school’s art, math, foreign language and Beta clubs, she serves as director of her school’s student choir and captain of its cheer team. Her classmates have also named her both student body president and homecoming queen. Her positive relationships with her fellow students may stem from her selfdescribed “goofy” personality, which she uses to uplift others. “When I know someone’s down, I will always try to go out of my way to make them feel better,” Sutton says. Being on the cheer team led her to be less reserved and come out of her shell, she says: “(Cheerleading) has helped me become the person and leader I am today by practicing hard work, patience and being able to communicate well with my team.”


Outside of school, Sutton serves her community as a member of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. Alongside other members of her church, she volunteers at the Cottage Grove nursing home and works its summer feeding program, for which she helps feed homeless people at Smith Park, Poindexter Park and through Stewpot. She says that volunteering makes her grateful for her blessings and keeps her in the mindset of always giving back. An honor-roll student in the top five of her class’ academic rankings, Sutton thanks her parents and sisters for supporting her and appreciates her teacher, Rigel Robinson, for going out of his way to make sure she excels. Going forward, Sutton plans to attend Jackson State University and major in elementary education. —Sarah Kate Pollard

courtesy Luke Mason


“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight,” so says the Scout Oath. Luke Carter Mason, an Eagle Scout, endeavors to embody that motto each day. For his final project to earn the rank, he cleaned and organized the children’s minister’s office at his church, Wells United Methodist Church, shortly before COVID-19 shut down public gatherings. “They always had problems with people leaving random things in the office, so it just turned into a junk pile. They also had an issue with people coming and taking things out,” he says. “Giving this designated space to the children’s minister was important.” An active member of his church, the

17-year-old serves on the Administrative Council as the youth representative, where he “(goes) to meetings and give(s) them the 411 on what’s going on with the youth,” Mason says. The Germantown High School senior ran cross country, played trumpet in the school’s band for both the marching and concert seasons and is a member of the National Honor Society. “(Germantown has) tons of resources, and the teachers are really good,” he says. In the fall, Mason will attend Rhodes College in Memphis, where he will run cross country and serve in the school’s ROTC program. With the goal of becoming a lawyer, he plans to major in political science. Mason lives in Madison with his parents, James and Erin, and his younger brother, Noah. —Richard Coupe

Danely Saraí Almanza Ridgeland High School senior Danely Saraí Almanza spends her time assisting others however she can both in school and at home. The 19-yearold participates in her school’s mentoring program, where she is assigned to an elementary student, whom she helps with schoolwork and other issues that may arise. She is also a member of the volunteer club, which organizes various projects to help the community, such as decorating for trick-or-treaters or cleaning up children’s centers. “I felt like (volunteer club) was a better way for me to be around other students. Also, I feel like that’s where I fit in most. I like being helpful,” she says. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, in addition to juggling her schoolwork and taking care of her younger sister, Almanza has been further assisting her parents with their family restaurant, courtesy Danely Saraí Almanza


Luke Mason

Mi Mexico Lindo, as a waitress and the family bakery, Princess Cakes, as a cashier. Both are on Old Canton Road in Ridgeland. Regarding her future, Almanza is presently deliberating between where she would like to be an elementary-school teacher or venture into cosmetology, in which she has an existing interest. As a DACA recipient, she says she feels encouraged to strive for and accomplish her dreams. Almanza credits her parents for being her inspiration for wanting to achieve her goals—citing them as the most hard-working people she has ever known and thanking them for doing their most to show her how to work for herself and keep pushing. She says she is very proud of her Mexican heritage and plans to continue to carry her roots with her as she progresses through life. —Nate Schumann

Jaden Coleman

courtesy Jaden Coleman

High school senior Jaden Coleman is a go-getter on and off the field. As the captain of the football team at St. Joseph Catholic School, he plays in the line on both offense and defense, and he held positions at first base and as designated hitter for the baseball team. Meanwhile, his academic performance has helped him earn memberships with the National Honor Society, Rho Kappa Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society and the National Latin Honor Society. Coleman attributes his accomplishments to his school. “It feels like a family at St. Joe’s. I get a top-of-theline education, and I’m also allowed to learn about God and deepen my faith,” he says. An active member of New Hope Baptist Church, Coleman helps with teaching children’s Sunday school. “I want to teach them how to be better Christians,” he says. Among his favorite recreational activ-

ities are tennis and traveling. He plays tennis for the joy of the game and has already visited several countries in the Caribbean and in Europe. “I love seeing different places, new people and different cultures,” he adds. In the fall, Coleman will begin a new chapter in his life as he enrolls in Southern University and Agricultural & Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, La. A number of his family members attended Southern, and Coleman was impressed by the school’s academic curriculum. He will study premed with the goal of becoming an anesthesiologist and plans to take courses at the university over the summer to get a jump-start on his postsecondary education. Coleman lives in Madison with his parents, Roderick, a pediatric dentist, and Robin, a nurse practitioner, along with his younger sister, London. —Richard Coupe

Starting point guard for Jim Hill High School’s basketball team, Amauri Quick-Collins credits the game for steering her life onto its current track. “I started to get into a little trouble in sixth grade, and I was pushed towards basketball. It ended up being something really helped me and changed my life,” Quick-Collins says. Now a sophomore, Quick-Collins recently scored 29 points, a record high, during the Elite, a competition of eight different teams. “(The scoring feat) meant a lot because we already lost to this specific team twice, and I really wanted to step up and do my best for my team,” Quick-Collins says. “My team is like my family. We are all definitely doing

(our part) for each other.” The 16-year-old also runs track and cross country and says that sports, especially basketball, have given her something to look forward to and strive for and have helped her become a better leader and a better communicator while also improving her patience. Quick-Collins expresses gratitude for her parents, particularly her father, for always pushing her and supporting her in sports and her other pursuits and for being her biggest fans throughout everything. In the future, the high schooler hopes to play college basketball, but if that doesn’t happen, she plans to pursue a degree in the medical field all the same. —Sarah Kate Pollard

Mary Noble Howard For Mary Noble Howard, art functions as much more than a pastime. The Jackson Preparatory School senior uses art to improve her own mental health. “Art is my everything. I deal a lot with anxiety, and at a young age I realized that art was the best outlet for (coping with) that. It’s my passion,” she says. For two years in a row, Howard has won Project Rez, an art competition that Keep the Rez Beautiful hosts for which participants create artworks from recycled materials with the goal of motivating people to keep the reservoir clean. In 2018, she constructed a dress made from leftover extra copies of her school’s junior-high literary magazine, Mindprints. “The idea behind it was that we wear our words. Everything we say and put out there and everything we do becomes part of who we are and how people see us,” Howard says. The following year, she crafted another dress, this time made from discarded receipts, with a theme of consumerism.

Other accomplishments include being included in Portico Magazine’s “25 Most Likely Students to Change the World,” receiving two gold keys and a silver key in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, having had artworks displayed at the Mississippi Museum of Art and recently earning the Miss Jackson Prep title. Presently, Howard is working on her A.P. art portfolio, which she is using to present a timeline of her life through her works. Each piece of the puzzle features a red dot someplace to represent the 18-yearold at different points in her life. This fall, Howard will enter Millsaps College to study art. “I like the unknown of not knowing where God’s going to put me in life, but a huge part of (my future) will be trying to use my art for positive things and spreading God’s word,” she says. “The biggest dream I would have is owning my own business, and maybe doing sculptures for hotel lobbies or big businesses.” —Jenna Gibson

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

“(The award) really shows that I am trying to make a change every day and that I can make a difference in my community,” McKey says. Beyond volunteerism, McKey models with Elite Modeling Squad and will be on her school’s cheerleading team beginning next school year. Her favorite school subject is English, and she has an interest in attending Spelman College in Atlanta—with one of her main goals being to eventually be able to travel to and volunteer in different countries around the world. McKey thanks her mother and her aunt for always encouraging her to make good choices and to continue to assist her community and others at large. —Sarah Kate Pollard

courtesy Amauri Quick-Collins

courtesy Skye McKey

Wingfield High School sophomore Skye McKey is no stranger to volunteerism. The Capital Area Sunset Rotary Club recently recognized her community-service efforts by bestowing her with the Rotary Youth Leadership Award. The organization selects nominees for this honor who demonstrate leadership skills and offer their own time to give back to the community, as to exemplify the Rotary Club’s motto, “Service before self.” McKey’s acts of service include volunteering with the annual Mississippi Book Festival, packing lunches for people in need within her community, and collecting trash and otherwise cleaning up local areas. With the Rotary Club, she also builds food packages for people in need from areas like Africa, Haiti and more.

Amauri Quick-Collins

Mark Hinkle

Skye McKey

more AMAZING TEENS, see page 16 15



2 0 2 0 ,


Natalie Turner

Shakerra Bolton

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

courtesy Shakerra Bolton

Shakerra Bolton, a 17-year-old junior at Lanier High School, has joined her school’s choir, the National Honor Society and the Ladybug Club all in the past year. Bolton has been a singer since age 5 and is also the youthchoir director at her church, Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson. Since joining the National Honor Society in 2019, Bolton has been performing community service throughout Jackson and also helps Jackson Public Schools students in grades below hers with subjects such as college readiness. The Ladybug Club is a mentoring organization that teaches Jackson young people to improve their social skills. With the program, Bolton assists young adults in her community with voter registration and helps to distribute food to local


children in need. She also participates in a program that gives away free prom dresses to students who cannot afford their own. After graduating, Bolton plans to attend either Mississippi State University or the University of Southern Mississippi and major in business administration and the performing arts. “I’ve always felt like singing is my strongest form of expression,” Bolton says. “My goal is to one day open up my own performing arts school and teach children about singing, dancing and other forms of expression. I want to be able to give them opportunities they might not have had otherwise and help them discover what they want to do in the world. ” Bolton lives with her mother, Felicia Bolton, her father, Eddie Williamson, and her sister, Sinithea Bolton. —Dustin Cardon

In addition to being a National Merit Finalist and an A.P. Scholar, high school senior Phoebe Xu has held leadership positions in her chosen extracurriculars. “Having the mentality of ‘As long as you work hard, it will pay off’ has really been driven into me. I need to do my best. Being able to work hard is a lifelong lesson that I will always carry with me in any situation that I’m in,” Xu says. The 18-year-old attends St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and serves as captain of its women’s soccer team, which won the State Championships this year. She started playing soccer in fourth grade and has since been voted Best Offensive Player during her 8th through 10th grade years, was named to the Clarion-Ledger All-State Girls Soccer Team as a junior and this year competed as a member of a traveling team. “Being able to be on these teams has really helped me grow as a player and as a person, because I know I can always decourtesy Phoebe Xu

The 16-year-old is currently working on writing more short stories, both in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. “The idea of sci-fi is to make you think about things and to have a conversation about a topic that would normally make you uncomfortable— in a form that isn’t uncomfortable,” she says. “When you leave the book and finish it, you’ve left this deep conversation to help you realize what your opinions are and what you think about the world.” Beyond writing, Turner enjoys drawing and painting and takes oil painting classes with Bob Tompkins, a local master of the art. In the future, she hopes to attend an animation school and pursue a career working for an animation company and telling her own stories. —Jenna Gibson

1 5

Phoebe Xu pend on (my teammates), and I’ve gotten a family in every single team I’ve played with,” Xu says. At school, Xu leads a chapter of The Period Movement, a nationwide group that sends feminine-hygiene products to places like homeless shelters and prisons. Her chapter has recently raised over $300 to send supplies to people during the COVID-19 crisis. “We’ve worked to increase awareness about period poverty, because there’s so much inequality there,” she says. “Not everyone can afford to go buy a couple products every month. One of the main things that our group is working on is getting rid of the tampon tax in every state. I think it’s really important because every woman has a period, and women shouldn’t be held back because they can’t have clean sanitation.” Xu aspires to become a doctor. “I want to help those around me the best way I can,” she says. —Jenna Gibson

Kelvin Gardner Kelvin Gardner, an 18-year-old senior at Provine High School, has been studying photodynamic cancer therapy at Millsaps College since 10th grade. The treatment involves exposing compounds such as nitrogen oxide to ultraviolet light in order to activate the compound to destroy cancer cells. Garner says he became interested in studying cancer treatment as a child because a teacher at his elementary school and several family members were struggling with cancer. Omega Hart, Garner’s chemistry teacher at Provine, recommended Garner to a cancer-treatment program at Millsaps that chemistry professor Wolfgang Kramear leads. “Mr. Hart saw that I was excelling in his class even though we aren’t able to have a lot of lab time at Provine,” Garner says. courtesy Kelvin Gardner

Jessica W. Holmes

Jackson Academy sophomore Natalie Turner has an affinity for storytelling. She serves as the editor of her school’s creative writing magazine, Images, and has already won an honorable mention in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her short story, “The Woman in the Woods,” a fantasy tale about a traveler who stays at an old woman’s home but learns that the host has an eventually revealed darker side. “Like most writers, I started out as an avid reader, and I discovered that there was much more to reading and storytelling than it being entertaining. A lot of times I would finish a book, and I would realize that I’ve learned something,” Turner says. “I think it’s a wonderful tool to help people be in situations that they never would have thought of, and it helps expand peoples’ compassion and worldview of others.”


“Studying at Millsaps gives me the chance to spend several months each summer learning the basics of cancer therapies and doing lab work like I wanted.” After graduating from Provine, Garner plans to enroll at Millsaps and major in biomedical engineering. He also wants to play as a goalkeeper for the Millsaps soccer team while pursuing his degree. Garner is a member of the youth council for the Mississippi branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, whose members go to local schools and community organizations to help teens and adults with mental illness. He is an usher at his church, Hill of Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Bolton, Miss. His mother is Christiane Williams, and his sister Keleah Gardner, 21, lives in Texas. —Dustin Cardon

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April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms



“I have great hope for tomorrow. My hope lies in three things-truth, youth, and love.”

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

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Murrah High School senior Charles Rounds stands with some of his artworks at a recent exhibition held at the Mississippi Museum of Art.

tivating himself and building confidence, as well as a way to help others. “I asked God to use my hands as a manifestation of his glory. … Now, my aim has just been to provide inspiration to all types of people,” he says. His mother, Tonia Rounds, inspired his architectural goals. In the field, Rounds says he wants to design houses and “anything that would benefit the community courteSy Power aPac

Charles Rounds’ “Overcoming the Past, Embracing the Present, and Building My Future.”

(in) all different endeavors.” He has been sketching buildings and making models at home since the pandemic forced school closures. Rounds’ works were recently part of the “2020 Scholastic Art Awards—Mississippi Regional Competition” exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art, before the museum temporarily closed its galleries due to COVID-19 concerns. Rounds is still mulling his college plans, with Mississippi State University and School of the Art Institute of Chicago among the possibilities.

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April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms


harles Rounds, a Jackson Public Schools senior attending Power APAC through Murrah High School, is among just 16 students nationwide to receive the top award, a Gold Medal Portfolio and its accompanying $10,000 scholarship, in the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. “It was unexpected,” Rounds, 18, says, chuckling as his teachers Renna Moore and Elise Payne tease him about the win. Rounds has been drawing since the second grade. In self-portraits and drawings of friends, he conveys a range of emotions, from his thoughtful countenance in “Serenity,” with a peaceful landscape in the background, to the frightened uncertainty in his pen-and-ink “When You See the Lights,” where he stares straight ahead and grips the steering wheel as a police officer peers into the car. “Overcoming the Past, Embracing the Present, and Building My Future” reckons with his father’s early departure and their reconciliation, Rounds’ current focus with art and his dreams of becoming an architect. His artworks rarely start with a detailed plan, Rounds says. “I’m one of those people that has to start on the artwork first, and then as I’m doing the artwork all these ideas come to me, and I ask God. … He’s pretty much leading me when I’m doing anything.” His oil painting “The Grace of God” speaks directly to that faith, with a haloed spiritual presence, arms outstretched, behind him, which depicts “the idea that there’s always someone there beside me, even if I don’t realize it,” he says. Rounds uses his art as a means of mo-

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by Nate Schumann


n my household, we drink a lot of warm tea. We have a tin box in which we file away our packets of teabags in neat, sectioned rows, and we have small containers for our loose-leaf teas. If you are a fellow tea lover who also has a bit of a sweet tooth at times, tea-infused cupcakes are easy to make, taste like your favorite blends and leave a pleasant after-taste that makes you feel like you just had a sip from a warm mug. I used a cream cheese-honey icing because I love adding the natural sweetness of honey to my own nearly daily spot of tea. For this cupcake recipe, I used Earl Grey tea, but the treats can be made using a variety of tea flavors, so feel free to substitute your tea of choice.

Ingredients (Cupcakes):

• 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/2 cup butter • 1 cup sugar • 1/4 cup honey • 1 teaspoon vanilla • 2 eggs • 3/4 cup milk • 2 tea bags of chosen blend (or equivalent amount of loose-leaf tea)

Ingredients (Honey Frosting):


Earl Grey, Sweet


• 2/3 cup (5 ounces) cream cheese • 3 tablespoons butter • 1/4 cup honey • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions: 1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 3. Pour milk into a small saucepan. Place the tea bags or infuser with loose-leaf tea into the milk. Set the burner to medium heat and let the tea steep in the milk. Stir occasionally, and the milk will adopt a new color taken from the tea. Avoid letting the milk reach a boil. 4. In a second mixing bowl, use an electric blender to beat the room temperature butter until it has a consistent, smooth texture. Add sugar, honey and vanilla and mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixture and beat until blended. 5. A little at a time, add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients, stirring as you go so that the batter becomes smooth, though a little thick. 6. Slowly pour the tea-infused milk into the batter and mix. If the batter is too thick, add more regular milk until you reach

Enjoy a spot of tea with your tea-infused cupcakes.

your desired consistency. 7. Pour batter into a muffin tray, either coated in nonstick spray or lined with paper baking cups. Bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cups in the muffin tray and on how full each cup was filled. Check on doneness by using a toothpick and piercing the cakes to see if the batter has cooked—which can be determined by whether or not the toothpick pulls out clean. Remove from the oven to cool. 8. To make the honey frosting, let the cream cheese and butter set so that they reach room temperature, or close to it. Add the two ingredients, as well as the honey and vanilla, and blend. Gradually add the powdered sugar, blending as you go, until you reach your desired consistency for the frosting. Ice the cupcakes and enjoy, perhaps with a cuppa!

Spend Your Day at JA!

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

Jackson Academy Summer Camps have something for everyone, from rising sports or stage stars to future artists and scientists. With more than 30 camps to choose from, there is fun to be had by all rising K4 through ninth graders. Camps are open to JA and non-JA students. Lunch Club is also available for campers attending both a morning and an afternoon camp.






For all the details and to REGISTER ONLINE, go to:

JACKSONACADEMY.ORG/SUMMER Sign up for Summer Camps by May 1 and get 5% OFF at check out!



JPS Trombonist Becomes a Lion


by Nate Schumann


ach year, the Mississippi Lions ous topics that interest him, practicing his All-State Band assembles some of the horn, creating music and writing poetry. most talented high school musicians “I’ll write about something I want to to rehearse and compete as a unit in explain to somebody—but I see poems an international band competition, which and music as my way of speaking—so I has been hosted in places such as Italy, just put my thoughts into a poem so that Japan and Germany. The group has brought I can express myself more easily,â€? he says. in 35 first-place, champion titles throughout its decades-spanning history, including the last seven years in a row. This year, Callaway High School junior and trombonist William Hulbert Jr. earned a place in the Lions Band roster— the first Jackson Public Schools student to do so in 14 years. “(Being invited to join the Lions Band) was really overwhelming,â€? he says. “I felt really surprised, but I was hoping to make it and knew that I could. ‌ When it did happen, I was really excited.â€? Unless COVID-19 concerns interfere, Hulbert and the Lions Band will travel to Hawaii this summer for an international competition. Jeff Cannon, director and manager for the Mississippi Lions Band, will let the students admitted this year know whether or not the trip will continue as planned mid-May. Hulbert has been playing the trombone for approximately Local junior and trombonist William Hulbert five years. He auditioned for Jr. earned a place in the internationally Lions Band in the fall and recognized Mississippi Lions All-State Band. received a callback, after which he was admitted into the honor band. For Hulbert plans to continue performthe audition, students play specific sections ing throughout college and perhaps learn from two arrangements, the 12 major scales to play more instruments, including nonand the chromatic scale, which highlights a wind instruments like the piano or guitar. musician’s range of pitch. As a career, he hopes to be able to produce His band director Curtis Luckett Jr. and compose music—both tunes that and Adam Almeter, his private tutor from could be played in a symphonic setting and Belhaven University, helped Hulbert hone songs that could be heard on the radio. his musicianship skills for his audition. “My favorite genre that I would like to Since his freshman year, Hulbert has try to replicate would be old jazz. My favorearned a place in the JPS All-City Honors ite trombonist is Tommy Dorsey. I would Band, this year attaining first chair in his want to try to recreate his sound because section. He has also performed with the I don’t really hear it enough anymore,â€? Jackson State Honor Band, the Mississippi Hulbert tells the Jackson Free Press. Bandmasters Association Honor Band and “I like how everything he plays sounds the Magnolia Honor Band throughout his like he’s singing. ‌ Not too many people high-school career thus far. can play like he can, so I just hope one day Outside of school, the 16-year-old I’ll be able to produce that type of sound.â€? enjoys drawing, reading, researching variTo learn more, visit misslionsband.org.


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April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms





DIY: Three-Ingredient Disposable Face Mask by Zilpha Young

Step 0: Step 1:

Zilpha Young

Zilpha Young


ow that the CDC has recommended everyone in the U.S. to wear face masks as a precautionary measure when leaving home and entering the public sphere, you may wonder how you can get ahold of face masks, as they can be elusive in stores. This do-it-yourself will show you how to make a disposable (single use) face mask out of a few items that you likely already have around the house. Note: These masks aren’t foolproof; please social distance!


• Paper Towel • Facial Tissue • Rubber Bands

• Hole Punch • (Optional) Wire (like a grocery tie) and tape

----------Directions ---------Wash your hands and clean your workspace and tools with alcohol or hand sanitizer. Layer your pieces. To start, make a “tissue sandwich” by placing a folded (or cut-to-size) tissue between two half

Step 5:

Unfold and wear! Loop the rubber bands behind your ears and you’re ready to go! Keep in mind that this isn’t going to stop 100% of particles from escaping if you should cough or sneeze, so you still need to cover your coughs and wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching or fidgeting with your mask after you leave the house.

sheets of paper towel.

Step 3: Step 4:

Zilpha Young

Fold the bottom of the long side of the stack upward by about an inch. Flip the whole thing and fold again, repeating until you reach the top and have a “fan” of paper towel.

Zilpha Young

Step 2:

Place holes. Pinch the end of the fan flat and place a hole one half inch from the edge. Repeat on the other side.

Push one end of the rubber band through the hole, and then pull that first loop through the other side of the rubber band to create a knot. Repeat on other side

Step 4.5

(Optional): Place a short piece of flexible wire, like a grocery tie at the top of the mask on the outside where the bridge of your nose will be and press a piece of tape down over it to hold it in place. When it’s on your face you can squeeze the wire to conform to your nose and get a better seal and improve comfort.

To learn how to make a reusable cloth mask (pictured right) or to learn how to use a bandana as a face mask (pictured left), visit jfp.ms/facemask.

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

Help those impacted by COVID today.


1. We’ve just launched our digital gift cards 2. You can help by donating a meal(s) in the form of a gift card to frontline healthcare workers and restaurant works impacted by the pandemic. 3. We’ll send you a bonus gift card in 1/2 the amount you donate. Let’s keep our community thriving and safe.


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Non-Profits and Professionals: You Need a New Plan to Reach Clients and Constituents. it harder to reach your clients and constituents

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April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms

With COVID-19 canceling events and making


Last Week’s Answers


51 Ohio airport code 52 Dad joke, often 53 Upscale hotel offering 54 Noir investigator, slangily 55 Bob Mould’s band before Sugar 58 He played Wiseau 60 “Just ___ bit more� 61 Drama with a title character voiced by Kristen Bell 63 Contested 64 Embarrassed 65 Parts of loaves 66 Buckeye and others


“Fly Free� --another freestyle for everyone. Across

1 Wish for success 11 Nemesis for Hook 15 It stops at ports of call 16 “You leave ___ choice� 17 Nonstop 18 Lenovo competitor 19 PC menu command 20 Short-term positions 22 20-20, e.g. 23 Gp. with a Seattle team come 2021 25 Maiden name lead-in 26 Turn green, perhaps 27 Pre-grads

28 Kool Moe ___ 29 “The Hollow Men� poet 31 Instruction segment 33 British heavyweight? 34 Word before operandi 39 ___-Caps (concession stand candy) 40 Pushed, with “on� 41 Home of California’s Mendocino College 42 TV character who jumped the shark, with “the� 44 Course outlines 46 Short Morse code bit 48 Break stuff?

Do You Get the

JFP Daily?

April 15 - 28, 2020 • jfp.ms



Sign up at JFPDaily.com

1 Speaks too proudly 2 Cream-filled pastry 3 Individual beings 4 ___ Modern (London art gallery) 5 Nearby 6 Gives substance to, with “out� 7 Tipsy 8 Fathom or foot 9 Swimming pools, a la “The Beverly Hillbillies� 10 Krispy ___ (some doughnuts) 11 Key with no flats or sharps, for short 12 Editing a program, say 13 Single-file 14 Wearing some Victorian garb 21 PGA’s Calvin 24 Explorative phrase in kids’ science shows, maybe 30 Yule symbol 32 Ambient music producer Brian 34 Requisite 35 “Fine, I give up� 36 Pork roast flavorer 37 Suffix after habit or sex 38 Rhombus, e.g.

43 Archive format 45 Old Scottish towns (as opposed to towns elsewhere?) 47 La Brea attraction 48 Nick follower on cable TV 49 Ruling 50 Reprimands 56 Classic canvas shoe brand 57 Pres. Eisenhower’s alma mater 59 Petri dish medium 62 Plop down

Š2019 Jonesin’ Crosswords (jonesincrosswords@gmail.com For answers to this puzzle, call: 1-900226-2800, 99 cents per minute. Must be 18+. Or to bill to your credit card, call: 1-800 655-6548. Reference puzzle #930

Editor’s Note: Psycho Sudoku by Matt Jones has been discontinued.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20):

Most authors do their writing while sitting on chairs in front of desks. But long before there were standing desks, poet Rainer Maria Rilke and children’s author Lewis Carroll wrote their books while standing up. Novelist Henry James had eight desks, but typically paced between them as he dictated his thoughts to a secretary. And then there have been weirdoes like poet Robert Lowell and novelist Truman Capote. They attended to their craft as they lay in their bed. I suggest you draw inspiration from those two in the coming weeks. It’ll be a favorable time to accomplish masterpieces of work and play while in the prone position.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20):

While sleeping, most of us have over a thousand dreams every year. Many are hard to remember and not worth remembering. But a beloved few can be life-changers. They have the potential to trigger epiphanies that transform our destinies for the better. In my astrological opinion, you are now in a phase when such dreams are more likely than usual. That’s why I invite you to keep a pen and notebook by your bed so as to capture them. For inspiration, read this testimony from Jasper Johns, whom some call America’s “foremost living artist”: “One night I dreamed that I painted a large American flag, and the next morning I got up and I went out and bought the materials to begin it.” (Painting flags ultimately became one of Johns’ specialties.)

CANCER (June 21-July 22):

Ford Madox Ford (1873–1939) was a renowned author who wrote The Good Soldier, a novel that has been called “one of the 100 greatest novels of all time.” Yet another very famous author, Henry James (1843–1916), was so eager to escape hanging out with Ford that he once concealed himself behind a tree so as to not be seen. You have astrological permission to engage in comparable strategies during the coming weeks. It won’t be a time when you should force yourself to endure boring, meaningless, and unproductive tasks.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):

I like this quote by the author Jake Remington: “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’” Although this passage is more melodramatic than necessary for your needs in the coming weeks, I think it might be good medicine that will help you prevail over the turbulence of the coronavirus crisis. Getting yourself into a storm-like mood could provide you with the personal power necessary to be unflappable and authoritative. You should also remember that a storm is not inherently bad. It may be akin to a catharsis or orgasm that relieves the tension and clears the air.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):

Libran rapper and activist Talib Kweli says, “You have to know when to be arrogant. You have to know when to be humble. You have to know when to be hard and you have to know when to be soft.” You Librans tend to be skilled in this artful approach to life: activating and applying the appropriate attitude as is necessary for each new situation.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21):

Scorpio artist Marie Laurencin (1883–1956) enjoyed a colorful fate. One of the few female Cubist painters, she was a prominent figure in the Parisian avant-garde. She was also the muse and romantic partner of renowned poet Guillaume Apollinaire. But there came a turning point when she abandoned her relationship with Apollinaire. “I was twenty-five and he was sleeping with all the women,” she said, “and at twenty-five you don’t stand for that, even from a poet.” Is there a comparable situation in your life, Scorpio? A role you relish but that also takes a toll? Now is a favorable time to re-evaluate it. I’m not telling you what you should decide, only that you should think hard about it.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):

Sagittarian sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1596–1680) was a prodigious, inventive creator. One scholar wrote, “What Shakespeare is to drama, Bernini may be to sculpture.” He designed and built public squares, fountains, and buildings, many in Rome, which embodied his great skills as both sculptor and architect. Unlike many brilliant artists alive today, Bernini was deeply religious. Every night for 40 years, he walked from his home to pay a devotional visit to the Church of the Gesù. According to my reading of the astrological factors, now would be an excellent time for you to engage in reverential rituals like those—but without leaving your home, of course. Use this social-distancing time to draw reinvigoration from holy places within you or in your memory.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19):

As I understand the current chapter of your life story, you have been doing the unspectacular but yeoman work of recharging your spiritual batteries. Although you may have outwardly appeared to be quiet and still, you have in fact been generating and storing up concentrated reserves of inner power. Because of the coronavirus crisis, it’s not yet time to tap into those impressive reserves and start channeling them into a series of dynamic practical actions. But it is time to formulate the practical actions you will take when the emergency has passed.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18):

Aquarian poet Jacques Prévert offered a variation on the famous Christian supplication known as the Lord’s Prayer. The original version begins, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” But Prévert’s variation says, “Our father who art in heaven: Stay there.” Being an atheist, he had no need for the help and support of a paternal deity. I understand his feeling. I tend to favor the Goddess myself. But for you Aquarians right now, even if you’re allergic to talk of a divine presence, I’ll recommend that you seek out generous and inspiring masculine influences. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you will benefit from influences that resemble good fathering.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20):

How skillful are you in expressing what you want? Wait. Let me back up and reformulate that. How skillful are you in knowing what you want and expressing the truth about what you want to the people who might ultimately be able to give it to you or help you get it? This is the most important question for you to meditate on in the coming weeks. If you find that you’re fuzzy about what you want or hazy about asking for what you want, correct the problems.

Homework: For three days, uphold your highest ideal in every little way you can imagine. Report results at FreeWillAstrology.com.



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I hope that during the coronavirus crisis you have been entertaining wild truths and pondering the liberations you will initiate when the emergency has passed. I trust you have been pushing your imagination beyond its borders and wandering into the nooks and crannies of your psyche that you were previously hesitant to explore. Am I correct in my assumptions, Leo? Have you been wandering outside your comfort zone and discovering clues about how, when things return to normal, you can add spice and flair to your rhythm?

And I’m happy to report that your capacity for having just the right touch at the right time will be a crucial asset in the coming weeks. Trust your intuition to guide you through every subtle shift of emphasis.


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Aries artist Vincent van Gogh got started on his life’s work relatively late. At ages 25 and 26 he made failed attempts to train as a pastor and serve as a missionary. He didn’t launch his art career in earnest until he was 27. During the next ten years, he created 860 paintings —an average of 1.7 every week—as well as over 1,200 additional works of art. For comparison, the prolific painter Salvador Dali made 1,500 paintings in 61 years. During the coming twelve months, Aries, you could achieve a van Gogh-like level of productiveness in your own chosen field—especially if you lay the foundations now, during our stay-at-home phase.

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I’m a ’90s baby. I was born in Chicago and lived there until I was 6, when my family moved to Mississippi, first in Ridgeland and then Jackson proper. I am a proud alum of Murrah High School (Go Mustangs!). My father was a professional photographer for years, so I always knew that at some point I would follow in his footsteps. In 2018, I picked up all of his equipment and started my own business, Captures by Caci. I started working with the Jackson Free Press completely by chance. I was invited to the BOJ Party in 2019 and decided to bring my camera and get a few shots. I posted the pictures on my Instagram, and the JFP reached out to me about sharing the photos and asked if I would be interested in doing freelance work. The rest is history!


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