JAC K S O N VOL 19 NO. 10 // JANUARY 6 - 19, 2021 // SUBSCRIBE FREE FOR BREAKING NEWS AT JFPDAILY.COM
FREE PRESS MAGAZINE REPORTING TRUTH TO POWER IN MISSISSIPPI SINCE 2002
Preview Judin, pp 10-11
Boosting Black-Owned Businesses Crown, pp 5-7
Excavating Privilege Hathorn, p 12
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January 6 - 19, 2021 Vol. 19 No. 10
ON THE COVER Mississippi State Capitol Photo Kristin Brenemen
4 Editor’s Note 5 Talks
8 Childhood Education Jeff Good argues that early childhood education programs can positively affect the lives of new generations of Mississippians.
hen Emily Pote opened “Coffee Prose,” a coffee shop that doubles as a used bookstore, she wanted to participate in the local movement to portray Jackson as a place that is revered for all its many wonderful qualities, as opposed to the sometimes negative perceptions others have of the capital city. Now with two locations, one in Highland Village and the other across the street from Millsaps College, the business is better able to serve Jackson locals. “Our midtown store is the flagship, but we always knew we wanted to open a second location,” Pote says of the transition. “The opportunity at Highland Village popped up, and it was a location we had been eyeing.” Pote is no stranger to trying new things, as she purchased the equipment and recipes of a now-closed popsicle shop, Deep South Pops, and began selling the frozen confections alongside the used books and hot coffees that gave the business its signature name. The small-business owner has plenty of experience in the literary world, too, previously serving as the manager of children’s books at Lemuria after graduating from Mississippi College with a degree in English, and she strives to share that
Emily Pote knowledge with her customers by offering them a “heavily curated” selection of books, noting that the shops “carry everything from kids’ books to fiction to nonfiction” and that the staff makes sure that each book is in good condition. These carefully curated shelves are replete with unique finds, as Pote remarks that she recently found a book that was printed in 1898 and another that had a bookmark from a shop in Decatur, Texas, a place that Pote says she will likely never visit herself but is now aware of because of her store’s unique offerings. Coffee Prose’s main enterprise, Pote explains, is helping lovers of books and coffee find sanctuary. “It’s more of a treasure hunt than a traditional bookstore,” Pote says. “(We consider ourselves to be) a celebration of the physical book and of sustainability. We give things a second life and celebrate their history,” which she does by christening beverages with names that allude to literary titles, such as “Cream and Punishment.” When Pote is not juggling her two children and her two businesses, she donates her time to various community-oriented organizations in the Jackson community, serving as president of both the Jackson Symphony League and University Press’s Book Friends. “I want to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to Jackson,” she says. —Taylor McKay Hathorn
14 Chef McKinley Pierce Local chef teaches culinary skills to students from the Boys & Girls Club of Central Mississippi to mitigate the struggle of food inequality.
15 Dr. Viola Dacus Read about the Mississippi College associate professor of music’s career as a vocalist and teacher.
16 Events 17 Local List 18 Puzzles 18 Sorensen 19 Astro 19 Classifieds
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
10 Legislative Preview
by Nate Schumann, Deputy Editor
ell, it happened. Despite my continued caution, I ended up contracting COVID-19 the week before Christmas. Throughout this pandemic, I have taken the threat fairly seriously, in my view. For the most part, I have remained isolated—as the Jackson Free Press’ staff began working from home in early March when reports of the virus encroaching closer to Mississippi began to waft through the news. I could probably draw the four walls of my home office—formerly known as the dining room—that have ingrained themselves into my memory. Not well, mind you, as I’m not the artist my younger brother is, but nevertheless I have spent nearly every day inside my apartment. When I did decide to leave and experience a change of scenery or some muchneeded sunlight, I typically only ventured
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
I have spent nearly every day inside my apartment
as far as the grocery store, where I would wear three masks, socially distance and sanitize my hands every chance I had. If I visited anyone for the sake of my social health, I would check to see whether the group would exceed CDC guidelines for indoor or outdoor occupancy. Unfortunately, a close friend of mine lost his father—who had been having health issues on-and-off for years—shortly after Thanksgiving, due to natural causes. While I did not attend the funeral, his wife invited a small group of friends to swing by their house that weekend to uplift his spirits. Loving our friend, my fiancée and I visited, and the eight of us played board games and shared some laughs. As it happened, at least one of us must had been exposed to the coronavirus, as the following Tuesday night, Dec. 15, I began experiencing fever and cough, while my fiancée developed a fever and head congestion. We drank some hot tea and began monitoring our symptoms. The next day, Hannah called into work to let them know she was feeling ill and thought it best she stayed home for the day. By the time evening rolled around, a couple friends from the party had texted me that they tested positive for COVID-19
and that others who were present for the board-game night were being tested as well. They suggested Hannah and I get tested. Considering our symptoms had been increasing, we mentally prepared ourselves for what we suspected when we first showed temperatures: We tested the next day and confirmed that we were both positive. Naturally, though, I do not regret visiting my friend in the least. He needed me, and I was more than happy to carry him on my shoulders through this dark time he has been undergoing. Thus, quarantine began anew. Not much about my daily activities has changed. I still work from home. Hannah informed her boss and coworkers about her condition. Fortunately, she had only worked one day since she had been exposed, and those she interacted with had tested negative and still have not shown symptoms all this time later, thankfully. My coworkers graciously sent us a care package of vitamins, medicines, soups and other beneficial goodies to help get us through the rough time. I had acquired pressure headaches and fatigue, while Hannah developed severe nausea. We began our daily regimen of recommended treatments, and I cooked my first Christmas meal—even though by then both of our senses of taste had become so deadened we wondered whether the food was worth the effort. Nevertheless, despite not being able to see any family, even in small numbers, we managed to have as merry a Christmas as we could. Speaking of family, my usual household family coincidentally contracted COVID-19 the same time Hannah and I did, even though we had not seen them in weeks. My mother, father and brother were
My COVID-19 Story: Appreciate the Good, But Don’t Be Complacent
The Mississippi Department of Health has a number of free COVID-19 testing options, including this drive-thru one at the West Street Farmers Market.
all blessed with very mild symptoms, and all three have already overcome them by now, albeit with some scratchy throats that are still healing, and are assumed negative. Today marks three weeks since Hannah and I first developed symptoms. We are recovering but not in the clear. I predominantly only have to worry about fever and cough for now, both of which are fairly mild, but Hannah’s nausea continues to vex her. We plan to see a doctor again this week to see whether she is still being affected by the coronavirus itself or whether COVID19 lowered her immune system enough that she caught some sort of stomach bug or infection of some sort and needs additional medication. Pray for us. My sense of taste has started to return, and not a moment too soon. I had no idea just how badly I would miss tasting food. I had always thought that if I had to lose one of my senses that taste would be my first choice, as I believed I could go on through life without the loss of taste affecting me. I
State reporter Nick Judin grew up in Jackson and graduated from the University of Mississippi. He is covering this year’s legislative session. Try not to run him over when you see him crossing State Street. He wrote the legislative preview and the COVID-19 vaccine update.
City Reporter Kayode Crown recently came to Mississippi from Nigeria where he earned a post-graduate diploma in Journalism and was a journalist for 10 years. He likes rock music and has fallen in love with the beautiful landscapes in Jackson. He wrote about boosts to Black business.
Taylor McKay Hathorn is an alumna of Mississippi College’s English program and a student at Asbury Theological Seminary. She enjoys binging TV shows, watching the sun set over the Mississippi River and tweeting her opinions @_youaremore_. She wrote the Jacksonian and book review.
was wrong. Since my taste returned, every food seems more delicious than it had before—or maybe I just appreciate it more. Appreciating the good in life has been a lesson I have taken from this experience. Yes, I physically felt miserable at times, but I had a strong support system of coworkers, friends and family who checked in with us and endeavored to keep our chins up. No, our holiday experience did not end up how we initially planned for it to go, but we made the most of it and still created some memories we may come to cherish much more in the future. That being said, I implore anyone who is reading this editor’s note today to heed this warning: Take COVID-19 seriously. Yes, I am blessed that my family survived the coronavirus and that Hannah and my symptoms are largely lessening, but that is not everyone’s experience. In the same time span that I have been afflicted with this virus, at least three people I personally knew have died because of illnesses and symptoms sustained from COVID-19, and this state lost several public leaders. I know that news of coronavirus vaccines being disseminated has given a lot of us hope, but we have to make sure we don’t get complacent just because we have a tentative end in sight. We must stay steadfast in our preventative measures. Numbers are reaching all-time highs in Mississippi, and they will continue to grow if we forget to care about each other. This virus is a genuine threat, and this state, this country and this world has lost too many good people to it already. Each of us must do our part to mitigate the casualties even further—so that others can appreciate the good in life even more as well. Stay safe out there.
storytelling & re, ir tu
“When you go into the courthouse to vote absentee, you have to provide voter ID. With mail-in voting, you have to get that notarized (twice). No-excuse absentee voting is a win-win.”
— Rep. Zakiya Summers, D-Jackson, page 11
ce eren rev
Black-owned Jackson Businesses See Million-Dollar Boost by Kayode Crown
The Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative Senior Vice President Otis Rolley III said it is unfortunate that African Americans are about 80% of Jackson’s population but control a small portion of the economy.
more likely than Whites to be in poverty and working poverty,” the report added. “More than one in three Blacks live below the federal poverty level compared with about one in every 10 Whites.” ‘It’s Morally Wrong’ Rolley believes the lopsidedness along race lines should give people a pause. “That’s not just morally wrong, but just any majority population having that little control would be wrong, whether it was 80% Italian, 80% of women, and it’s not sustainable,” he said in the interview. The philanthropic organization instituted the 12-city funding initiative to open up capital and credit access to parts of business communities that have suffered historical discrimination. “Data shows us that if investments are made in people of color, it benefits
not just them and their families, but the communities, the cities, states and the country as a whole,” Rolley said. He cited a recent study released in September 2020 by Citigroup, titled “Closing the Racial Inequality Gaps: The Economic Cost of Black Inequality in the U.S.” The study concluded that in the last 20 years, the racial gap between Black people and white people set the country’s overall economy back by $16 trillion. “Providing fair and equitable lending to Black entrepreneurs might have resulted in the creation of an additional $13 trillion in business revenue over the last 20 years,” the study said. “This could have been used for investments in labor, technology, capital equipment, and structures, and 6.1 million jobs might have been created per year.” The Citigroup 104-page study indicated that though many laws are in
the books to provide equality of access, centuries of slavery have left residual effects through today. “Black entrepreneurs suffer not from a lack of vision, but a lack of funding along every point in the investment cycle,” it said. “Attitudes and policies undermining equal access are at the root of the racial gaps plaguing U.S. society.” The hindrance to Black entrepreneurs getting financing via traditional routes puts them at an added disadvantage. “The reliance of Black founders on less lucrative forms of financing may reflect the difficulty in financing along the investment channel,” the study explained. “According to the Fed(eral Reserve Bank), creditworthy Black-owned firms experience greater challenges raising capital than creditworthy white-owned firms. Even after controlling for firm characteristics and performance, more BLACK BUSINESSES, p7
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courtesy Rockefeller Foundation
OVID-19 has hit Black-owned businesses in Jackson hard, but Otis Rolley III, senior vice president of The Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative, is eager to work with them for the long haul. On Dec. 15, the organization announced Jackson’s addition to The Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective, or ROC, a program launched in June to address the disproportionate effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority-owned businesses by investing $1 million in 12 U.S. cities. They are Atlanta, Ga.; Boston, Mass., Chicago, Ill., El Paso and Houston, Texas; MiamiDade County, Fla.; Louisville, Ky; Newark, N.J.; Norfolk, Va.; Oakland, Calif.; Baltimore, Md.; and Jackson, with the last two cities added in December. Rolley has a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined the Rockefeller Foundation in 2019 after decades of urban economic-development experience in different cities. He told the Jackson Free Press he is delighted to work toward rectifying the city’s race-based economic imbalance. “Jackson is almost 80% African American, yet American Africans only have about 25% of the city’s economy,” Rolley said. “And so we want to be part of the solution and part of both of the policy change and the programmatic change to really try to steer dollars more towards those (disadvantaged) individuals.” PolicyLink and Program for Environmental and Regional Equity jointly released a paper in 2017 titled “An Equity Profile of Jackson,” which concludes that the poverty rate for African Americans in the city is more than triple the rate for white people. “Black residents of Jackson are more likely than White residents to be unemployed,” the report said. “About 11 percent of African American adults between ages 25 to 64 are unemployed, compared with only four percent of the White population.” “African Americans in the city are
black businesses, from page 6
Negative Perception Colors Reality The study discussed the racial wealth gap due to bias in venture capitalists’ funding practices. Negative perceptions of Black applicants skew decisions against them, it said. “Anecdotal assertions of bias include investors not trusting that Black entrepreneurs have viable and sustainable businesses, and/or lack an understanding of the product or customer Black founders are serving,” Citigroup said. “Even for professional investors choosing to invest in VC funds, data-based evidence of bias is revealed in a Stanford University study which determined when venture capital funds are managed by a person of color with strong credentials, professional investors judge them more harshly than their white counterparts with identical credentials.” The Rockefeller Foundation wants to address some of those financial imbalances through the ROC program by targeting Black-owned businesses. “We’re really talking about these businesses, contractors, operating businesses that are African American, women-owned entities that sadly (and) historically within the United States have just not necessarily had the access to capital or credit that they need to be successful, even when they have great credit rating,” Rolley said. “Even when they have the résumé to show investment should be made, historic and structural racism has kept those dollars from going to these individuals.” The senior vice president said the plan is to counter historical devastation from racist imbalances by using the ROC program to help small businesses and entrepreneurs with technical assistance, direct grants, potential loans, and drawing in more private and public investments. Rolley said that Rockefeller chose to add Jackson due to the leadership they see throughout the capital city. “It has the right leadership not just in terms of city hall, with which we have been impressed, but leadership throughout in terms of its civic and community leadership and business and entrepreneurial leadership,” he said. “They were applying and ready for this type of investment from the Rockefeller Foundation.” The focus is small businesses ranging from those owned and operated by an individual to those employing up to 200 people.
Striving for Equity Expansion In a Dec. 15 press statement announcing ROC, The Rockefeller Foundation described the initiative as part of its ongoing effort to expand equity and economic opportunity for low-wage families and
Rockefeller’s strategy is to use public and private-sector investment to promote more inclusive growth, both in the postpandemic recovery and over the long term, the foundation stated. “The ROC Funds are being allocated Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
the Fed finds that approval rates for Blackowned firms still remain lower.”
Between February and April 2020, 41% of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. closed because of the pandemic, almost twice the national percentage, which was 22%, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports.
communities of color across the country because the ravages of COVID-19 pandemic have a deeper impact on them. “The time to act is right now to address the inequities made worse by this virus and build a more equitable, sustainable future for our working families,” Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv J. Shah said of the rationale for the initiative. “The suffering that continues to grow in communities all across America, and the staggering loss of life and livelihoods, increasingly bleak choice of having to choose between putting food on the table and paying rent, and overwhelmed health systems is unacceptable.”
to a collective of government, business, faith-based and nonprofit partners over several years,” it added. “The Foundation is investing in partners, projects, and programs with the core goal of eliminating barriers to access capital and credit among low-wage workers and small businesses operated by women, Black and Latinx owners.” Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said the capital city is poised to benefit from the initiative substantially. “The City of Jackson is honored and encouraged by joining the Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective,” he said in a statement about the program. “Access to capital has been a significant barrier for
underrepresented entrepreneurs in the Jackson community, and Covid-19 has only exacerbated these challenges,” Perils of ‘Structural Racism’ Rolley said many Black-owned small businesses need additional resources and technical assistance relating to financing, including bond insurance, understanding banking or credit practices, and debt assessment. Other forms of needed guidance are training programs and networking opportunities because the pandemic has exasperated the disadvantages Black-owned businesses already suffered. “Many white businesses (are) able to access friends and family for some of that technical support, but because of historic, structural racism within the United States that kept people of color from having access to capital and credit, we don’t have those kinds of networks and relationships and access to wealth that many of our white counterparts do,” Rolley said. The program will not involve The Rockefeller Foundation coming to the city to stand up an organization to manage the fund in a top-down approach. “It’s not that our dollars go to one entity that decides where the money can best be spent, but it’s in partnership through collaboration and communication and coordination with multiple players,” Rolley said. “In some of our other cities, we start off by doing a webinar where multiple players (are) on the call, and we talk about our theory of change, and open up opportunities for a different discussion in terms of where the grants can and should go.” According to the foundation, the addition of Jackson to the ROC program is against the backdrop of the findings that Black-owned businesses disproportionately suffer from pandemic-related closures. In a release in August, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York stated that
Newly Wet Mississippi Counties in 2021
fter nearly 90 years since the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition, House Bill 1087—which Gov. Tate Reeves signed over the summer—has now legalized the possession (not sale) of alcohol across the state, as of New Year’s Day. The following 29 counties, which had been (officially) dry through 2020, became wet counties by default on Jan. 1, 2021. Counties and cities maintain the capacity to vote to return to their dry statuses.
Alcorn Attala Benton Calhoun Choctaw Covington Franklin George Greene Itawamba
Lamar Lawrence Leake Lincoln Monroe Neshoba Newton Pearl River Pontotoc Prentiss
Rankin Scott Smith Tate Tippah Union Walthall Wayne Webster
courtesy Mississippi Department of Revenue
by Nick Judin
he new year dawns on a Mississippi in deep crisis, with the last week of 2020 breaking many key coronavirus records as the situation continues to deteriorate in the state’s hospitals. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs warned on Twitter of another record in new hospitalizations. An average of 162 Mississippians were hospitalized for COVID-19 every day for the week ending Jan. 2; the now-dwarfed summer peak’s highest weekly rate was 114. On Tuesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced 1,767 new cases of COVID-19 and 91 deaths, the highest single-day report of fatalities in the pandemic so far, a record that has been repeatedly surpassed as the post-holiday surge has claimed additional lives. On Monday, Jan. 4, Gov. Tate Reeves announced that Mississippi would be altering its COVID-19 vaccination schedule to
favor older Mississippians receiving the vaccine first. Previously, a multi-tiered system pairing aging Mississippians with a broad range of essential workers aimed to provide vaccine access to those 65 and older sometime in February. Now, individuals 75 and older will be able to apply for the vaccine at private clinics as early as Jan. 10. For those 65 and older, access should begin on Jan. 17. Dobbs told the Jackson Free Press at a Jan. 5 press event that the new guidelines target the most vulnerable populations, those disproportionately represented in the state’s hospitals. “Twelve percent of those who get diagnosed with COVID over the age of 65 die. About one in eight. That’s astounding,” Dobbs said. Reeves pointed to the significant proportion of deaths derived from older populations. “Of the total fatalities that are marked as a result of COVID—about 4,800 total fatalities to date—3,732 of them are over the age of 65,” he said. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told The Today Show on Tuesday that states should not let carefully targeted vaccine recipient criteria slow down the rollout of available doses. “Your headline today should be, ‘Surgeon General tells states and governors to move quickly to other priority groups,’” Adams said. Hospital Transfers Under Scrutiny Currently, Mississippi is operating under MSDH’s COVID-19 System of Care guidelines. As the public-health agency explained on Dec. 20, “Mississippi has reached a point where hospitals can no lon-
Aiming for 10-fold Capital Increase Structural barriers to accessing financing at traditional banks and institutions that administered relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fueled this lopsided effect, the foundation reported. “Negative or nonexistent credit information, cash constraints, and lack of availability of private capital and access to affordable financing are all components that limit a community’s economic development,” the report said. “These conditions also cause lost job opportunities, restrict housing options, and ultimately limit the goals of many low and middle-income families.” “An estimated 26.5 million U.S. adults are not in the formal credit econo-
Stephen Wilson/File photo
41% of Black-owned firms closed down due to the pandemic against 17% white-owned between February and April 2020 and a national average of 22%.
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba appreciates the capital city’s inclusion in The Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective.
my. Federal data show that 15% of Black and Hispanic Americans are credit invis-
ger accommodate acute clinical demands.” While the COVID-19 system-of-care orders are in effect, Mississippi has a central authority for hospital transfers for critical care: Mississippi Med-Com, located at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Marc Rolph, executive director of communications at UMMC, explained to the Jackson Free Press in an interview that
“We’ve been in the same realm for hospitalizations for the last month,” Rolph said. Typically, hospitals seeking a transfer to a higher setting of care will contact other institutions directly. That has become nearly impossible in a winter of unmitigated viral spread and skyrocketing hospitalizations, necessitating a central management system. courtesy UMMC Communications.
Vaccinations For Mississippi Elders Opening Soon, State’s Hospitals Under Stress
Vaccine availability is being extended to all Mississippians 65 or older in the next two weeks. Currently, hospital transfers are being carefully managed statewide, protecting an extremely fragile system.
the command center is managing criticalcare transfers on a rotational basis, slowly working its way through the state’s facilities equipped with intensive-care units to maximize the limited space available. For UMMC, that means fewer transfers than in previous spikes—a necessity as the hospital simply has no more room.
Just as Dr. Dobbs warned the Jackson Free Press in June, the rationing on transfers applies to all ICU patients statewide, not just those infected with COVID-19. Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Email state reporter Nick Judin at nick@jacksonfreepress. com and follow him on Twitter @nickjudin.
ible (compared to just 8% of White and Asian Americans). In the U.S., Black and Hispanic businesses receive only 2.5% and 5.8% of funding through the Small Business Administration.” On how the program has been running in other cities after the June launch, Rolley said some of the partners include venture-capital funds; business incubators providing technical, marketing, finance and other forms of direct support to entrepreneurs. He said the foundation would be delighted to see a 10-fold increase in private capital moving to businesses owned by BIPOC—Black, Indigenous and people of color—entrepreneurs in Jackson as the program unfolds in the city. Rolley said the organization felt that there are good partners in Jackson that align with their focus on the BIPOC population. The next step will include a Jackson-tailored action plan, mapping out the goals, and the timeframe for
achieving them in concert with the city and in partnership with qualified government and quasi-government agencies, together with community and religiousbased groups and other nonprofits. “We think that there are a number of strong potential partners throughout Jackson,” he said. “If there were not folks who are thinking about this, (thinking) of how do you increase access to capital and wealth for people of color, Jackson then would not have been selected.” “We have the intention to be staying in Jackson and 11 other cities for the long haul,” he added. “So at the very least for the next three to five years, but pending internal approvals, we really are looking to do this work over the next 10 years. (I am) just really excited to add Jackson to the family.” Email tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
JEFF GOOD Early Childhood: Best Investment for Community, Business Strength
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
Employers need early childhood programs as well.
help ensure that employees are focused, productive and successful. Unfortunately, in Mississippi, most working families don’t have access to these high-quality and affordable childhood programs. Seventy percent of Mississippi children under age 6—roughly 142,000 children total—have parents working outside the home; yet, many of these children are not in high-quality programs. Why? Because nearly half (48 percent) of Mississippians live in a childcare desert, which are areas in which there are at least three children for every
Photo by CDC on UnsPlash
s we near the end of an incredibly tumultuous and unpredictable year, I’ve thought a lot about what really matters and what kind of Mississippi I want to live in. I want our state to be safer and economically prosperous, and for every working Mississippian family to have access to programs that support their young children and make their lives easier. The best way to achieve these goals is by making meaningful investments in early childhood. Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman once said that “early childhood is the best investment.” Early childhood education will “help reduce the achievement gap and the need for special education, increase the likelihood of healthier lifestyles, lower the crime rate and reduce overall social costs,” he added. I could not agree with him more. Early childhood programs play a crucial role in making sure our young people are successful, communities are safer and the economy is strong. These programs are invaluable to working parents, who are crucial members of our workforce. They need these programs to support their families and make sure their children need to grow developmentally and socio-emotionally. Employers need these programs as well. These crucial supports
Editor-in-Chief and CEO Donna Ladd Publisher & President Todd Stauffer Associate Publisher Kimberly Griffin Creative Director Kristin Brenemen REPORTERS AND WRITERS City Reporter Kayode Crown State Reporter Nick Judin Contributing Reporter Julian Mills Contributing Writers Dustin Cardon, Bryan Flynn, Taylor McKay Hathorn, Jenna Gibson, Tunga Otis, Richard Coupe,Torsheta Jackson, Michele D. Baker, Mike McDonald, Kyle Hamrick EDITORS AND OPERATIONS Deputy Editor Nate Schumann JFPDaily.com Editor Dustin Cardon Executive Assistant Azia Wiggins Editorial Assistant Shaye Smith 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
Early childhood education helps “reduce the achievement gap and the need for special education, increase the likelihood of healthier lifestyles, lower the crime rate and reduce overall social costs,” economist James Heckman warns.
licensed child-care slot. Our current early childhood education, or ECE, system does not meet the needs of Mississippi families, children and employers. That’s why ReadyNation, an organization of business executives building a skilled workforce by promoting solutions that prepare children to succeed, created the Mississippi Early Childhood Investment Council, often referred to as ECIC. The council is committed to supporting the enhancement and expansion of early-childhood education and programs in Mississippi, to strengthen our economy in the short and long term. I am a proud new member of the ECIC and thrilled to join fellow business leaders and the state in a mission to strengthen working families and communities. On Nov. 12, the ECIC held its annual meeting to discuss how we can best support early childhood in Mississippi moving forward. The event kicked off with opening remarks by Tonya Ware, the project director of ReadyNation Mississippi who is based in metro Jackson. Council for a Strong America’s President and CEO Barry Ford the addressed the council, explaining the ECIC’s overarching goals. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work on increasing awareness, increase child-care options, and influence decision-makers into making appropriate systemic policy decisions
and investments in children,” he said. The Mississippi ECIC aims to show the state’s business leaders that we can support ECE in a myriad of ways. We can use our time, influence, and voice to help strengthen early childhood and our economy. If we come together and advocate for public investments in ECE with policymakers, and get involved in our local communities, we will be able to initiate substantial, state-wide impact. Mississippi is making valuable strides in early childhood education. State-funded programs garner a strong child-care rating and are providing the tools to help ensure our youngest children grow into well-rounded and productive adults. However, as we head into 2021 and continue to battle the pandemic, we need to support and invest in this crucial sector. As a new member of the Mississippi ECIC, I’m looking forward to continuing to enhance business leaders’ role in this progress. High-quality, affordable, and accessible early childhood programs are key to making Mississippi strong today, tomorrow and long into the future. Jeff Good is the president and owner of Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group. He is a member of the Mississippi Early Childhood Investment Council and lives in Jackson. This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the JFP.
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Parole Reform, Pay Raises and COVID-19: 2021 Legislative Preview by Nick Judin
Photo courtesy Brice Wiggins
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann is fighting to delay the 2020 session, hoping to stave off another outbreak of COVID-19. When the session does begin in earnest, Hosemann plans to push forward on pay raises for state employees, including teachers, in spite of the financial crunch of the virus.
As of press time, that delay seems unlikely, with Speaker Gunn dedicated to getting through the session to avoid the endless procession of 2020 repeating. ‘We Couldn’t Have Quorum’ Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann spearheaded the effort to delay the session, citing the danger posed by another legislative outbreak and the high transmission of the virus in Mississippi. “I propose that we come in on January 5, adopt our flag, do whatever other things we have to do, perfunctorily, and then adjourn until March 1st,” the Senate leader said at a Dec. 29 press event. Hosemann told the Jackson Free Press that part of the difficulty of holding the session during the pandemic was the strict necessity of quarantining after exposure. “If, in fact, you have been with someone (infected with COVID-19), under Dr. Dobbs’ orders, you are supposed to be quarantined for 14 days. Now, if that were enough of the Senate, we couldn’t have quorum. We wouldn’t have enough people to vote,” Hosemann said. Not all legislators share Hosemann’s desire to see the session delayed. Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, said that the session should continue as planned, with improved safety measures to avoid an outbreak. “As I saw one of my colleagues comment, teachers and other public employees
Parole Reform, Take Two Distinct from COVID-19 struggles was the last-minute collapse of the Legislature’s criminal-reform push, which failed to overcome a gubernatorial veto in early July 2020, despite broad support in both chambers. Now, however, a breakthrough in negotiations between reform-minded legislators and law-enforcement organizations signals a promising opportunity for a successful attempt in 2021. At the bill’s center was a long-awaited package of parole reforms intended to standardize a pathway to parole eligibility lacking for many incarcerated Mississippians. Senate Bill 2123 would have provided parole eligibility for incarcerated Mississippians serving time for nonviolent offenses after 25% of their sentence or 10 years, whichever was less. For Mississippians serving time for violent offenses, eligibility would have required the lesser of 50% of their sentence or 25 years of incarceration. Legislators supporting the bill, spanning both parties in both chambers, argued that it addressed a growing prison population derived from excessively harsh sentencing guidelines established in the 1990s. Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, lamented the bill’s failure in July. “Mississippi has the secondlargest incarceration rate in the world.
SB 2123 addressed Mississippi’s growing prison crisis,” Simmons said. “It was bipartisan policy.” But for Gov. Tate Reeves, the bill went too far. “Right now, you’re eligible to get out of prison at 60 unless you’re a trafficker, habitual offender or violent criminal. This totally eliminates those protections,” he wrote on Facebook upon vetoing the bill. The governor’s concerns didn’t match the content of the bill, which did nothing to guarantee parole, merely provided the incarcerated with the opportunity for a hearing before the parole board. But Reeves later admitted to the Jackson Free Press that his concerns about who might sit on that parole board after his term in office ended fueled his skepticism about signing the bill into law. “I have a maximum of seven years and five months left serving as governor. And I have no idea who is going to be the next governor,” he said at a press event. Reeves’ veto held in no small part thanks to the backing of two powerful professional organizations, the Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association and the state Prosecutors Association, both of which publicly voiced opposition to SB 2123. Jasper County Sheriff Randy Johnson, president of the MSA, told the Jackson Free Photo AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
asked legislators tapped fists as the 2021 legislative session began on Jan. 5, a familiar scene awaiting an uncertain future. The state’s latest legislative gathering during a pandemic quickly gave way to the first of 2020’s many lingering threads: the codifying of the state’s new flag. Only moments after the gaveling-in, House Bill 1 sped through a Rules Committee hearing, on track to put declarative punctuation to one of 2020’s vanishingly few moments of unity. House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, opened the proceedings by putting the flag bill before a House floor that voted it through 119-1. “Today would be a most appropriate day for us to put that into the code,” he said. With the flag settled in one chamber, after only Republican Stephen Horne of Meridian opposed it (and Dan Eubanks, of Walls voted “present,”) enormous work remains. The 2020 session, though it dragged on for nearly the entire year, left much unfinished. Public employee pay increases, criminal-justice reform and COVID relief all loom in the near future. In spite of the monumental work ahead of the Legislature, there is good reason to question the wisdom of holding the session now at all. With a two-thirds vote, the House could begin the process of delaying the session until March.
have been working through this pandemic, and us legislators should do that, too,” Wiggins told the Jackson Free Press. Hosemann, who was infected during the 2020 legislative outbreak, said contact tracing revealed that last-minute budget talks held in private offices caused much of the transmission between legislators, which infected at least 49 of them. “(We) let our guard down, actually. We weren’t as good about it as we needed to be,” he said. But while legislators are likely to be more wary of the virus after so many were infected in the last session, it is unlikely that a repetition of the same security measures from previous months—voluntary mask usage, temperature checks at the door and loads of hand sanitizer—is a guaranteed protection against a large-scale outbreak. In 2021, just as in 2020, it is the uncaring virus that will determine if the session continues uninterrupted, not legislators.
Sen. Juan Barnett, D-Heidelberg, chairman of the Corrections Committee, is enthusiastic about the prospect of parole reform surviving this session, citing productive talks with Mississippi’s sheriffs and prosecutors.
you get into the session, people’s opinions can change. That being said, I would agree that significant progress has been made with those groups,” he told the Jackson Free Press at the end of the year. The state senator warned that one of the key provisions of the agreement— adherence to re-entry programs—would require investment from the Mississippi Department of Corrections that Wiggins said he had yet to see in previous years. “The Legislature has passed many (bills) to address re-entry … That was the one of the purposes behind House Bill 585 (from 2014): so people could get the rehabilitation that they need. The problem is that MDOC did not do it,” Wiggins said. Mississippi Code §47-7-3.1 requires MDOC to provide a complete case plan for all inmates within 90 days of their admission which includes a clearly defined parole eligibility date, and mandates a meeting with caseworkers every eight weeks to discuss the inmate’s progress on that case plan. “What we have found is that MDOC has never done that,” Wiggins said. ‘Habitual Undercompensation’ Lt. Gov. Hosemann has his eye on criminal-justice reform as well, echoing Sen. Barnett’s sentiments on the meetings between legislative leadership and law enforcement at his Dec. 29 press event. Past the horizon of parole reform, Hosemann sees another step toward repairing the state’s ailing carceral system. “In my meetings with Mr. Cain, it is obvious to me that we are undercompen-
Rep. Zakiya Summers, D-Jackson, saw the struggle many Mississippians had with absentee voting in 2020, and hopes to put an end to those challenges with an upcoming bill expanding access to the practice.
presented with no solutions to fill in the $1.8 billion-plus hole in the state support budget such a tax cut would leave behind.
Whether Hosemann’s plans to reinvest in the state’s teachers and other public employees will come to fruition, or whether they’ll be buried under the weight of coronavirus-induced austerity yet again, remains to be seen. ‘Democracy Will Win’ The rolling catastrophes of 2020 exposed weaknesses across far more than the state’s health-care system. November’s presidential election was a precarious one for Mississippi, in which voters requested nearly a quarter of a million absentee ballots, well over twice the amount from 2016. Images from the weeks preceding the election showed absentee voters lining the sidewalks, with extensive waiting times for many. Rep. Zakiya Summers, D-Jackson, aims to address those weaknesses in her second year in office. “With the historic election we had in 2020 … I’m hoping with this session we’ll have the opportunity to speak with election officials, from the state to the local level, to see what worked, what didn’t, and what they have in mind to improve the process,” she told the Jackson Free Press in an interview just before the session began. Summers has one goal already in mind. “I am definitely going to be pushing for no-excuse absentee voting,” she said. “I’m hoping that my colleagues will have an appetite for it on the elections committee.” To Summers, absentee voting is the ideal solution to expand ballot access, especially to working class voters who might find it difficult to making it to a polling place. “I heard so much frustration from voters and election officials alike about how the process works. (Voters) weren’t sure if they qualified, and if they did, which excuse to use,” she said. Plus, the freshman representative sees expanded absentee voting as a more likely avenue of greater ballot access, given a growing Republican hostility to early voting nationwide. “When you go into the courthouse to vote absentee, you have to provide voter ID. With mail-in voting, you have to get that notarized (twice). No-excuse absentee voting is a win-win,” Summers explained. Nor is she willing to hedge on a commitment to getting the vote out because of repetitious, baseless claims of voter fraud. “When you have the president shouting out disinformation on a daily basis because the outcome of the election didn’t favor him, that’s not democracy,” Summers said. “But I believe that democracy will win. There are things we can do to make this process better for both sides.” Email state reporter Nick Judin at nick@ jacksonfreepress.com
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, is more cautiously optimistic than his Democratic colleague Sen. Juan Barnett, but still aims to help pass the revived corrections bill back to the governor’s desk when the session kicks off.
sating our corrections officers,” Hosemann told the Jackson Free Press in an interview. “That unfortunately has been habitual in several different (areas) of Mississippi. I think it’s time for Mississippians to look at what we’re going to do for compensation for people … doing work for the state, so that they at least have a meaningful job that’s not below the poverty rate.” Hosemann’s last push for a raise for some of the state’s lowest-paid employees dates back to the early days of the 2020 session, before COVID-19 obliterated all hopes of a normal year, meant to be a follow-up to what seemed at the time like a universally approved teacher pay raise. “We have over 1,000 employees working full time for the State of Mississippi whose gross salary is less than $20,000,” Hosemann said in early February. “That is not economically feasible … We have thousands of open positions in state government. Why is that? We can’t compete with a growing and burgeoning economy in Mississippi. They can get a better job.” Hosemann’s continued interest in raising pay for state employees stands in contrast with the plans of Gov. Reeves and Speaker Gunn, both of whom have endorsed plans to aggressively cut—and eventually eliminate—the state’s income tax, beyond the 3% bracket set to phase out this year. The lieutenant governor roundly rejected that plan, first in an interview with the Jackson Free Press and again at his Dec. 29 press event, explaining that he had been courtesy Zakiya Summers.
‘A Good Resolution’ Sen. Juan Barnett, D-Heidelberg, the chairman of the Senate Corrections Committee, made passing parole reform the centerpiece of his first term leading the committee. He told the Jackson Free Press in a Dec. 23 interview that enormous progress had been made in negotiations, and that he expected even broader support for the amended bill in the coming session, removing the last barrier for lasting change to the state’s parole system. “We’ve come to a good resolution on how we should proceed,” Barnett said. The first step in the process was simply communication. Barnett said clearly expressing the limitations the bill kept in place was an important part of the negotiations. Convicted murderers, sex offenders and anyone explicitly sentenced without possibility of parole cannot benefit from the reforms. Nor does parole eligibility guarantee release. But there are material changes to the second attempt at the bill that ameliorate some of the concerns from law enforcement. Proposed reforms to geriatric parole are now limited to those convicted at a younger age, ensuring that elderly offenders cannot serve exceedingly short sentences. Most importantly, Johnson’s concern—the release of incarcerated Mississippians without re-entry preparation—will be addressed in the 2021 version of the bill. Incarcerated individuals seeking expanded access to parole will have to complete “two years of job training, before their release,” Barnett said. “We want to make sure they have every opportunity … (but) if you expect to be paroled, then you have to take advantage of the job-training programs,” he added. Barnett said the Mississippi Department of Corrections would be partnering with other state agencies to expand re-entry program availability, as well as regional jails that already offer job-training programs. The corrections chairman believes the system will play to the strengths of new MDOC commissioner Burl Cain. “The current commissioner had big success in Angola (La.) doing the same thing. That’s something that he has spoken about. We’re going to allow him the opportunity to (expand) that type of training,” Barnett said. Sen. Wiggins, a member of the Corrections Committee and another key leg-
islator in the ongoing parole-reform effort, shared Barnett’s positive impression of the talks with law enforcement advocates. But he was hesitant to say that the bill would see smooth sailing in the upcoming session. “My experience tells me that when Imani Khayyam
Press in September that his primary concern was a lack of preparation the influx of parolees would receive prior to their reentry to society. “We’re not against people having a second chance. We’re not against people getting out. We want them to have a good step forward when they do get out, instead of just opening the door,” Johnson said.
Privilege and the High Cost of Being a ‘Fortunate One’ by Taylor McKay Hathorn
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
and the intrigue intensifies as the novel depicts the reflections of the now-grown Charlie interspersed throughout his own coming-of-age story. The authorial decision to have an adult narrate a book that’s largely about the antics of teenagers does eventually and unfortunately lend itself to the weakness of the novel, which I found to be the dialogue of the teenage protagonists. Although an elevated vernacular is certainly expected for a group of wealthy Nashville teenagers, it comes across in many sections of the novel as stilted, with the adolescent characters sounding more like the elite adults they would become by the end of the novel and making decisions that seem far more socially aware than is entirely believable. This backward-storytelling does, however, allow Charlie to recognize his own selfishness, and while we see him edge toward growth and progress throughout the novel, “The Fortunate Ones” is not a moral tale. Charlie, though he is raised more humbly than his privileged peers, is as utilitarian as they are, taking advantage of the wealth around him to forge opportunities and relationships that he might not otherwise have. He even does this at the expense of his first friend, Terrence, a Black boy whose grandmother helped raise Charlie before his mother elevated their social status by finding work in a very different world than the one in which she had previously raised her son. Terrence believes in the best of Charlie—in the Charlie he first knew—and the novel
finds its greatest victory when Charlie eventually recognizes this potential. He confronts the racism and the privilege he had once been so steeped in and comes to see the political machinations that work to oppress his friend and the ways that he himself had been complicit in those machinations. The glimmers of this more receptive Charlie sustained both Terrence and me as a reader, as I found myself rooting for a character that made deeply flawed decisions while still seeming like a deeply human (and indeed, humane) person. Despite Charlie’s ability to win me over, I was not entirely convinced by Tarkington’s portrayal of southern life—or perhaps the ritzy picture of life in Nashville simply did not ring true for me, a woman raised in a small town where many lived below the poverty line. I was, however, convinced by his portrayal of southern relationships, as I keenly recognized longing swathed in politeness, in feigned ignorance to spare another’s feelings, in loyalty to the point that outsiders would consider senseless. Therefore, for a southern reader, everyone in the novel behaves unforgivably but not inexplicably. Private pains lead to public decisions to choose, over and over again, to remain one of “the fortunate ones,” proving the aptness of the novel’s title. Those interested in Tarkington’s novel can tune in to a live chat with the author through Lemuria Books’ Facebook page on Tuesday, Jan. 12, at noon, and hardcover, first-edition copies of the book are available for purchase at Lemuria.
courtesy Algonquin Books
n a narrative that smacks of privilege while also reckoning with its insidiousness, Ed Tarkington spins a southern yarn about manhood, family and desire in his latest book, “The Fortunate Ones.” The novel begins abruptly—Charlie Boykin is delivering the news of a fallen comrade to a heartbroken family when a news story stops him in his tracks: Arch Creigh, an affluent young politician, has committed suicide. While the entire group is horrified at such a revelation, the narrator’s alarm is personal, and he tells the family that he once knew the deceased. His relationship with Arch is the axis upon which “The Fortunate Ones” pivots, as the narrator rewinds his tale to its beginnings at a private, all-boys school in Nashville, and it soon becomes apparent that Charlie more than knew Arch Creigh. Arch was his assigned mentor at school, and the boys’ bond deepened, with public professions of brotherhood and private confessions of desire. This magnetism between Charlie, who grew up in near poverty in east Nashville, and Arch, who had known money and its pursuant privileges all his life, is the strongest feature of the novel, although its “moth to a flame” nature is evident from the outset. Charlie and Arch compete for the affections of a young woman who trusts Charlie with her secrets but Arch with her future, and the boys vye for the attentions of the adults of the novel, who are mired in scandals of their own doing (and undoing, to be sure). Although the relationship between the two could certainly be classified as toxic, it also compels the reader,
Nashville-based author Ed Tarkington’s novel, “The Fortunate Ones,” examines the complexities and costs of shifting between socioeconomic classes.
Lemuria Books will be hosting a virtual discussion with Tarkington on Jan. 12 at noon on Facebook.
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Local Chef Nurtures a New Generation of Cooks by Michele D. Baker
COURTESY MCKINLEY PIERCE
he old saying “if you want something done right, do it yourself ” rings true for McKinley Pierce—the idea helped him define and develop his passion for food. Born in the Mississippi Delta where food deserts are common and access to grocery stores and obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables always seemed out of reach, Pierce became determined to improve his circumstances. When his family moved to the Jackson area, a new world of good food appeared. As his exposure to new tastes and dishes increased, his palate changed. Pierce credits Outback Steakhouse as the restaurant where he honed his skills. “I had no experience in a kitchen, so they gave me my first opportunity to cook,” Pierce explains. “I started to incorporate that knowledge into cooking meals for my family. I like to eat, and I was able to make whatever I had a taste for.” For his next challenge, he strives to nurture and engage young people in a new world of cooking, healthy eating and lifestyle changes. Pierce firmly believes that changing the eating habits of children can change the lives of families. “Once you know how cooking works, you can look in the refrigerator and piece together something nutritious,” he says. With this goal in mind, Pierce joined the Boys
Chef McKinley Pierce teaches culinary skills to students in the local Boys & Girls Club.
& Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi, or BGCCM, to lead its culinary operations and mitigate the struggle of food inequality. Since 1936, Boys & Girls Clubs have
provided after-school and summer youth-development programs for at-risk children in the Jackson metro area. BGCCM currently serves about 2,200 youth ages 6 to 18 in Hinds and Madison counties at four locations. The newest Club offering is the recently named “Dole’s Sunshine for All” culinary program. Pierce uses firsthand experience struggling with access to affordable, nutritious food as an asset when teaching children to cook healthy recipes that are inexpensive and easy to prepare. Dole Packaged Foods supplies many of the ingredients needed for the cooking demos. “Right now, the 15 (club members in the culinary program) are learning the basics: how to properly use knives, food safety and sanitation,” Pierce says. “But we’ve also made mango chutney and chicken pasta with Alfredo sauce. The students were all so excited to show their parents.” Future lessons will cover all aspects of cooking from searing fish, to grilling steaks and sautéing vegetables. “I want children to see cooking as a career option,” Pierce says. “This is a great skill to have. Once you get the knowledge, get some experience. Then you’ll always have a job.” To learn more about the Boys & Girls Club of Central Mississippi and its programs, visit BGCCM.org.
SAY HELLO TO Voted Best Gumbo Best of Jackson 2019-2020
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Viola Dacus: Vocalist, Instructor, Mother by richard coupe
Dr. Viola Dacus both performs and teaches vocals at Mississippi College.
the church choir and performed in musicals during high school, despite never having any formal vocal lessons at that time.
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Originally, Dacus intended to attend Mississippi State University and become a veterinarian, but at the last minute she felt that she was supposed to pursue another path, so she enrolled in the University of Mississippi instead of MSU as a theater major. However, during her first semester at UM, Dacus saw the Boston Camerata perform in Fulton Chapel, and she understood what direction she wanted her life to travel. “I had never heard live music at that level before, and I was profoundly moved,” she says. Ultimately, Dacus graduated from UM with a bachelor’s degree in music education and then attended Louisiana State University, where she received her master’s degree and doctorate in vocal performance. She accepted a teaching position with Mississippi College in August 2001. Since immersing herself in the field, Dacus has served as a soloist in the Verdi Requiem at Carnegie Hall and has sung in the New York premiere of Dan Forrest’s “Requiem for the Living,” among other accomplishments.
“One of my most wonderful memories of performing was I got to sing in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve,” she says. “That was really moving and something that I’ll never forget—on a stage in Manger Square.” While Dacus performs regularly with Opera Mississippi, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and New Stage Theatre, she also loves balancing that aspect of her life with her teaching career. “I’m kind of a homebody. I have a lot of colleagues whose whole life is performing—I distinctly remember at a Mississippi opera production the lead mezzo was taking off on a plane to go somewhere else, and I thought, ‘I get to go home and be with my children,’” she says. Dacus lives in Clinton with her husband of 35 years, Edward, whom she met when he performed at her senior recital at UM. They have two children, Emily Katherine and Jonathan, the latter of whom will be starting college at MC in the spring 2021 semester.
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January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
courtesy Viola Dacus
r. Viola Dacus vividly recalls one of the teaching moments that affirm her career choice of helping others develop their vocal performance. “I had been working with a young mezzo, playing with resonance, and her voice went somewhere wonderful where she had never explored,” the associate professor of music at Mississippi College says. “She literally jumped up and down in the studio screaming, ‘What was that, what was that?’ That’s what I find so gratifying: helping students discover their authentic voices and seeing their surprise at what that might be and then embracing it.” Born in California, Dacus moved to Yazoo County in first grade and graduated from Manchester Academy. Coming from a family who loves music, Dacus remembers her dad often listening to country, while her German-born mother always had opera, operetta and symphonic music reverberating through the house. Dacus started piano lessons in second grade, and she would often sing with her sister. She also sang in
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COMMUNITY Open House/Wedding Expo Jan. 9, noon4 p.m., at Castle Hill Pavilion (285 Old Enochs Road, Florence). The Florence wedding venue hosts the annual event featuring wedding vendors and food prepared by the venue’s catering staff. Registered brides or grooms may bring up to four guests for a fee of $5 per person. Due to coronavirus restrictions, parties are limited to a total of five people. Up to 15 people allowed inside per hour. Time slots are selected at registration. $15 bride or groom reg, $5 additional guest, up to 4 per party; call 601-845-1445; email castlehillchp@ gmail.com; find it on Facebook. Rip the Runway Jan. 9, 7-11 p.m., at Xclusice Yours (5530 N. State St.). House of Fashion presents the fashion show featuring local fashions and models. Beverly Ellis and Anissa Hampton provide entertainment. Fashion and food vendors on-site. $20 advance tickets, $25 at the door; call 601-955-6490; email email@example.com. MLK Convocation Jan. 15, 8 a.m.-noon, at Rose Embly McCoy Auditorium (1400 John R. Lynch St.). The Jackson State University archive and museum hosts the annual convocation honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Free event; call 601-979-0592; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KIDS Born to Be Wild Jan. 10, 1:30-4 p.m., at Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive). The museum dedicated to Mississippi’s natural environment joins with the Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities to offer the series of outdoor skills classes for ages 8-18. All classes are at MMNS unless otherwise indicated. All classes outdoors, weather permitting. Schedule subject to change based on weather conditions. The program is free to members of CCD. Non-members may join CCD at tinyurl.com/joinccd. January’s topic is wildlife law enforcement. Free to members of CCD, registration required; call 601-576-6000; email email@example.com; mdwfp.com.
FOOD & DRINK
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
The Detectives Present Jan. 14, 7 p.m., at Shaggy’s on the Rez (1733 Spillway Road, Brandon). The restaurant and the theater troupe present “Down the Drain,” a comedic mystery play, and a three-course meal. Seating and cocktails begin at 6 p.m. Social-distancing guidelines observed. $47.99 per person, tax, gratuity, & drinks not included; call 601-937-1752; email firstname.lastname@example.org; find it on Facebook.
Murder Mystery Dinner Jan. 18, 6-9 p.m., at Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142). The Jackson restaurant and the local dinner theater troupe present a three-course prix fixe menu and an evening of interactive dinner theater. Cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. Covid safety guidelines are followed. Maximum six guests per table. $49 per person, tax, gratuities, and drinks not included call 601-291-7444; email brittany. email@example.com; find it on Facebook.
STAGE & SCREEN
Bastard’s Crossing - Movie Premiere: First of the 12 Westerns Jan. 15, 7-9 p.m., at Cinemark Pearl and XD (411 Riverwind Drive, Pearl). Filmmaker Travis Mills and Running Wild Films present the premier of the first film from their “12 Westerns in 12 Months” project. Select cast and crew are present and available for a Q&A session after the film. $20 general admission; call 480-593-9059; email firstname.lastname@example.org; find it on Facebook. Bravo III - Winter Windfall Jan. 16, 7:30 p.m., at Thalia Mara Hall (255 E. Pascagoula St.). The MSO presents the performance of works by Mendelssohn and Beethoven. Advanced registration required. No at-door sales or will-call available. Masks required throughout performance. This is a concert-only event with no intermission or concessions provided. $20 general admission; call 601-960-1565; email rroberts@ msorchestra.com; find it on Facebook. Lady Sings the Blues Jan. 18, 7:30 p.m., at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). The opera company presents Jackson jazz singer Rhonda Richmond in the tribute concert honoring the music of Billie Holiday. $30 general admission in advance, $35 at the door; call 601-960-2300; email email@example.com; operams.org.
CONCERTS & FESTIVALS Travelin’ Jane Duo Jan. 7, 5-9 p.m., at H.D. Gibbes & Sons (140 Main St., Learned). The local acoustic musical duo plays at the steakhouse. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-613-7236; email ajchappell79@ gmail.com; find it on Facebook.
DJ Remy and DJ Ang at Martin’s Downtown Jan. 8, 8 p.m., at Martin’s Restaurant & Bar (214 S. State St.). The local DJs perform at the Jackson bar and venue. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-354-9712; find it on Facebook. Rockin’ Evening with Brian Jones Jan. 9, 6:30 p.m., at The Little Pub (387 Highway 51, Ridgeland). The local musician performs live at the Ridgeland bar. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-898-2225; find it on Facebook. The Ballard Journeay Show Jan. 9, 8 p.m., at Pop’s Saloon (2636 Gallatin St.). The Mississippi band performs live at the Jackson saloon. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-961-4747; find it on Facebook. Southern Komfort Brass Band Jan. 9, 8 p.m., at Martin’s Restaurant & Bar (214 S. State St.). The brass band performs live at the local bar and venue. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-354-9712; find it on Facebook. John Causey Jan. 14, 6 p.m., at The Iron Horse Grill (320 W. Pearl St.). The local musician performs live at the Jackson restaurant. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-398-0151; theironhorsegrill.com. Happy Hour with Wayward Jones Jan. 15, 5-8 p.m., at The Little Pub (387 Highway 51, Ridgeland). The Mississippi singer/songwriter duo plays an early set at the Ridgeland bar. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-898-2225; find it on Facebook. Travelin’ Jane Band Jan. 15, 7-10:30 p.m., at Kathryn’s (6800 Old Canton Road, Ridge-
SPORTS & WELLNESS AHA BLS CPR Certification Class Jan. 9, 8:30 a.m., at Rankin CPR Instruction (317 Kitty Hawk Circle, Brandon). The local CPR training company offers the class in basic life support (BLS). This course is required for healthcare providers and is designed to provide training to recognize emergencies, provide high quality CPR, operate an automated external defibrillator (AED), and relieve choking. Course fees include class, materials and certification E-card (delivered within 24 hours). Social-distancing guidelines practiced. $65 fee; call 601-383-3568; email firstname.lastname@example.org; find it on Facebook. Jackson Master Skills Camp Jan. 9, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at Madison County Sports Zone (213 Industrial Drive N., Madison). The baseball-skills camp features college coaches and instructors teaching players skills to improve their game. The camp is divided into four sections to focus on position-specific instruction, as well as overall skill improvement. Skill areas addressed includ hitting, infield, outfield, and speed and agility. $98 fee; call 816-912-1665; email krystal.swoffer@fastpitchmasters. com; find it on Facebook. KUKUWA African Dance Class Jan. 9, Jan. 16, 10-10:30 a.m., Zoom. The local counseling and wellness organization offers the weekly African dance fitness class led by instructor Niketa. $8 admission; call 786-603-1748; email email@example.com; find it on Facebook. UNAA Area Qualifier Jan. 16, 8 a.m., Jan 17, noon, at Ninja Warrior Arena (3010 Lakeland Cove, Suite Z, Flowood). The Flowood facility hosts the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association’s COURTESY GOLDEN AURA WELLNESS MS area qualifying competition. Divisions for ages 6 through 40+. Competition follows UNAA rules. Schedule: Saturday morning–7U and 9U, Saturday afternoon–11U and 13U, Sunday afternoon–15U and 40+, Sunday evening– amateur and pro. Exact start times TBA. $40 UNAA member registration, $50 non-member registration; call 769-216-3593; email firstname.lastname@example.org; find it on Facebook.
land). The local band performs live at the Ridgeland steakhouse and restaurant. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-613-7236; email ajchappell79@gmail. com; find it on Facebook. Royal Horses Jan. 15, 8 p.m., at Martin’s Restaurant & Bar (214 S. State St.). The South Mississippi band performs live at the Jackson bar and music venue. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-354-9712; find it on Facebook. Burnham Road Jan. 16, 8 p.m., at Pop’s Saloon (2636 Gallatin St.). The local band performs at the Jackson bar. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-961-4747; find it on Facebook. Rutabaga Jones Jan. 16, 8 p.m., at Martin’s Restaurant & Bar (214 S. State St.). The Jacksonbased funk band plays a limited capacity/socially distanced show at the downtown bar and music venue. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; call 601-354-9712; find it on Facebook.
LITERARY Welty at Home | A Virtual Book Club Jan. 11, Jan 18 noon-1 p.m., Zoom. The virtual book club discusses the short story collection “In the Valley” by Ron Rash. Dr. Suzanne Marrs, Millsaps professor emerita and biographer of Eudora Welty, leads discussion. Free online event; call 601-353-7762; email info@eudoraweltyhouse. com; find it on Facebook. “The Fortunate Ones’’ Book Discussion Jan. 12, noon, at Lemuria Bookstore (4465 Interstate 55 N.). Nashville-based author Ed Tarkington discusses his new book live via Facebook Live through Lemuria’s business page. Free book discussion, $26.95 hardback, first edition book; call 601-366-7619; email lemuria@lemuriabooks. com; lemuriabooks.com. “The Prophets’’ Book Discussion Jan. 14, noon, at Lemuria Bookstore (4465 Interstate 55 N.). Author Robert Jones, Jr. discusses his debut novel with fellow author Chanelle Benz live via Facebook Live on Lemuria’s business page. Free book discussion, $27 signed first edition book; call 601-366-7619; email lemuria@lemuriabooks. com; lemuriabooks.com. “Concrete Rose’’ Book Discussion Jan. 15, 5:30 p.m., at Lemuria Bookstore (4465 Interstate 55 N.). Jackson author Angie Thomas discusses her new book with actor Russell Hornsby live via Zoom Webinar. Book purchase required to attend. Participant’s email address taken at purchase; Zoom Webinar link emailed on the day of the event. $19.99 first-edition, signed book; call 601-366-7619; email lemuria@lemuriabooks. com; lemuriabooks.com.
ARTS & EXHIBITS Free Sundays at the Two Mississippi Museums Jan. 10, Jan. 17, noon-4 p.m., at Two Mississippi Museums (222 North St.). The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights museum offer free admission every Sunday afternoon. Free admission; call 601-576-6850; email Info@mdah.ms.gov; twomississippimuseums.com. How Many Colors? Quilt Show Jan. 9, Jan. 12-16, Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Craftsmen’s
1. Swell-O-Phonic (2906 N. State St., Suite 103, 601-981-3547, chane.com) I personally patron this store for its diverse selection of shoes and graphic tees. 2. The Bean (2914 N. State St., 769-5725752, facebook.com/thebeanjxn) This shop serves great coffee in a neat and historic building. 3. OffBeat (151 Wesley Ave., 601-3769404, offbeatjxn.com) OffBeat is an excellent place for local art pieces and vinyl records.
4. The Game Store (Flowood Antique Flea Market, 1325 Flowood Drive, Flowood, 601-953-5914, flowoodantiquefleamarket. com) The vendor likely has the largest selection of classic consoles and video games in the metro area, that I’ve seen anyway. 5. Fenian’s Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, fenianspub.com) I have frequented this pub for the food, beer and weekly open mic many a time. 6. Ole Tavern (416 George St., 601-9602700, oletavern.com) Ole Tavern is always
my suggestion when asked for the best club in the area. 7. The Warp Zone (393 Crossgates Blvd., Suite C, Brandon; 601-706-4764; facebook.com/TheWarpZoneArcade) The owner is a true lover of video games, and the arcade has a tasteful gaming selection. 8. Cerami’s Italian Restaurant (5417 Lakeland Drive, Suite I, Flowood; 601-9192829; ceramisitalian.com) From my experience, Cerami’s has some of the best and most authentic Italian food in the area.
9. The Jungle Exotic Pets (1998 Highway 49, Florence, 601-933-0299, facebook. com) This pet store possesses an impressive assortment of exotic pets and a staff with the expertise to help customers with specific questions.
10. Sal and Mookie’s (565 Taylor St., 601368-1919, salandmookies.com) In addition to a great atmosphere, Sal and Mookie’s creates my favorite pizza in the metro.
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Guild of Mississippi (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland). The organization promoting Mississippi’s artisans and craftspeople presents an exhibit of handmade quilts. Free event; call 601-856-7546; email email@example.com; find it on Facebook.
CREATIVE CLASSES Winter Wonder Snow Family Jan. 7, 6-8 p.m., at The Stompin Grounds (310 Airport Road, Pearl). The Pearl arts and crafts business offers the class teaching participants to make a “family” of three snowmen for display on porch or hearth. All materials included in class fee. $35 fee; call 601-487-8081; email thestompingrounds@ yahoo.com; find it on Facebook. DIY Doormat Class Jan. 9, 1-3 p.m., at The Stompin Grounds (310 Airport Road, Pearl). The local crafts market offers the class teaching participants to design and create their own custom 24-by-16-inch doormat. Different fonts, colors, and sayings are available from which to choose. All supplies included in class fee. $45 fee; call 601-487-8081; email thestompingrounds@ yahoo.com; find it on Facebook. Blythe Doll Customization Panel Jan. 12, 8-9 a.m., at Blythe Doll House (3630 Saint Clair St.). The monthly creativity workshop allows attendees to learn how to customize Blythe dolls, which are known for their wide eyes and capacity for personalization. The group shares information with each other and guests regarding topics such as sewing doll clothes, photographing unique dolls and more. Free
admission; call 662-598-8115; email info@ thisisblythe.com; thisisblythe.com. Seasonal Vintage Trucks Jan. 12, Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-noon, at Twin Oaks Crafts (745 Highway 49 S., Richland). The Richland arts and crafts store hosts the class teaching participants to make a beginner’s level seasonal home décor piece. Led by instructor Lawana Ainsworth. Reservations required. $25 class fee, $20 kit fee; call 769-572-5253; email twinoakscrafts20@ gmail.com; find it on Facebook. Textured Angel Wings Painting Class Jan. 12, 6-8 p.m., at The Stompin Grounds (310 Airport Road, Pearl). The Pearl arts and crafts business offers the class teaching participants to paint a set of textured angel wings. The class is led by instructor Jamie Thompson. Registration fee includes all supplies. $35; call 601-487-80 Furniture Painting 101 Jan. 14, 6-8 p.m., at The Stompin Grounds (310 Airport Road, Pearl). The Pearl arts and crafts business hosts the class teaching participants to paint their own furniture. Participants learn surface prep, techniques for distressing furniture, wax finish application, and more. All supplies are provided. $30 class fee; call 601-487-8081; email firstname.lastname@example.org; find it on Facebook.
PROFESSIONAL & BIZ Graphic Design: Yes, You Canva 1 Jan. 7, 10-11:30 a.m., Virtual (alliancems.org). The nonprofit organization hosts the introduction to the free online program Canva. Participants
learn the basics of the program’s interface, as well as how to create simple, balanced graphic design for use in digital and print materials. No experience necessary. Free online event; call 601-968-0061; email email@example.com; find it on Facebook. Accredited Event Designer Workshop Jan. 18, 4 p.m., at Embassy Suites Jackson - North/ Ridgeland (200 Township Place, Ridgeland). The IWED offers the four-day workshop teaches participants to professionally design and execute weddings and other events. $2,995 for four-day workshop, $2,795 if paying in full; call 800-504-7615; email firstname.lastname@example.org; find it on Facebook.
BE THE CHANGE The Lost Cajun Blood Drive Jan. 8, 11 a.m., at The Lost Cajun (6745 S. Siwell Road, Byram). The Byram restaurant hosts the blood drive. Participants receive free beignets or fried pickles after donating. Free event; call 769-257-6644; find it on Facebook. Clean Up Day Jan. 9, 8 a.m.-noon, at Buddy Butts Park (6180 N. McRaven Road, Clinton). Members of the Friends of Mississippi River Basin Model organization gather monthly at the site of the full-scale model of the Mississippi River to clean up the area and keep the model from falling into further disrepair. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn equipment such as mowers, chainsaws, weed eaters and brooms. Volunteers of all ages welcome—jobs available
for everyone. FMRBM provides gloves and water. Free to volunteer; email friendsofmrbm@ gmail.com; find it on Facebook. YMCA Polar Bear Plunge: Freeze for the Feed Jan. 9, 10 a.m., at Reservoir YMCA (6023 Lakeshore Park, Flowood). The local organization of YMCAs hosts the fundraiser supporting their programs that provide children facing food insecurity with healthy meals and snacks. Participants take the plunge into the Reservoir YMCA pool. A no-jump option is available for an additional $10 fee. $25 registration fee, $10 addition fee for no-jump option.; call 601-3264713; email email@example.com; find it on Facebook. Transplant Education Class for Potential Live Donors Jan. 13, 7 p.m., Virtual (WebEx). University Transplant offers the donor education class for persons interested in becoming a live transplant donor. Those interested dial 1-415655-0001 to join the meeting. Meeting number (access code) is 177 286 7591, meeting password is pCVxXB72hA6. Free; call 601-984-5065; find it on Facebook.
January 6 - 19, 2021 • jfp.ms
Aron Johnson has lived in the Jackson metro for the last 18 years. As someone who enjoys sampling unique food establishments and attending art-centric events, he is happy to see that Jackson has no shortages of either option and that those areas seem to be continually growing in the city through the years.
courtesy Swell-O-Phonic; Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash; Acacia Clark; courtesy The Game Store; courtesy Fenians Pub; courtesy Ole Tarvern; courtesy Warp Zone; courtesy Cerami’s Italian Restaurant; courtesy The Jungle Exotic Pets; file photo
Check jfpevents.com for updates and more listings, or to add your own events online. You can also email event details to events@ jacksonfreepress.com to be added to the calendar. The deadline is noon the Wednesday prior to the week of publication. 17
Last Week’s Answers 48 Enters, as a bar code 50 Solitary 51 High-achieving $10 bills? 55 Seiji with 2019’s “The Tokyo Gala Concert (Live)” 58 Not after 59 Kit ___ (candy bar) 60 All over the interwebs 61 Housing contract 62 Previously, on Shakespeare’s stage 63 Slack-jawed 64 Poly follower 65 Lincoln’s son
BY MATT JONES
34 Comedian Schumer 35 Univ. application figures 36 Trump son played by Alex Moffat on “SNL” 37 Writer/director Ephron 38 Fair tradeoff 39 Part of WWI 43 “Paper Planes” rapper 44 Target of some shots 45 Harden or Westbrook, e.g. 46 Turkish capital 47 Placed one within another 49 Like old donuts
50 Better trained 52 “Yoshi’s Island” platform 53 Elephantlike machine seen in “The Empire Strikes Back” 54 Sagacious 55 Anatomical eggs 56 Change direction 57 Parseghian of Notre Dame fame
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1 Robert who created Triumph the Insult Comic Dog 2 It may be on the tip of your tongue 3 Shortened, as a sail 4 “It’s ___ Unusual Day” 5 Enforcer Brasi of “The Godfather” 6 Spent frivolously 7 Bryce Canyon locale 8 A to A without any sharps or flats, e.g. 9 Pizza option 10 Reading group? 11 Porridge tidbit 12 Off-roading truck, briefly 13 “___ Baby” (1981 Toni Morrison novel) 21 Endeavor 22 “Go team!” 25 Jump in an ice rink 26 Frosty the Snowman’s eyes 27 Head experts? 29 Maidenform purchase 30 “Do unto others ...” principle 31 Beginning 33 ___-country (genre including Florida Georgia Line)
“Cutting Through” --it takes the right tool. Across
1 Georgia, once 4 Spotify release, maybe 9 Powerful influence 14 Whitman of “Good Girls” 15 Way more than one, in prefixes 16 Calf roper’s rope 17 Tahiti, par exemple 18 Arctic, e.g. 19 Out-and-out 20 Wrapped-up A-shaped beam in the garage? 23 1976 Wimbledon winner
24 Day-to-day grind 28 Tramp’s companion 29 OshKosh ___ (clothing brand) 32 Nerve cell impulse transmitter 33 Bucking animal, informally 34 Bothered 35 Your average places to create wooden boards? 40 City in 7-Down 41 Video chat problem 42 Suffix for gazillion 43 It’s fed at a curb 44 “The Nanny” portrayer Drescher
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Capricorn author Edgar Allen Poe named “four conditions for happiness: life in the open air; love of another human being; freedom from all ambition; creation.” I’m accomplished in three of those categories, but a failure in being free of all ambitions. In fact, I’m eternally delighted by all the exciting creative projects I’m working on. I’m VERY ambitious. What about you, Capricorn? I’m going to contradict Poe and speculate that your happiness in the coming months will require you to be at least somewhat ambitious. That’s what the planetary omens are telling me. So what are the best goals and dreams for you to be ambitious about?
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18):
It’s time to launch Operation Supple Watchdog. That means you should be tenderly vigilant as you take extra good care of everyone and everything that provide you with meaning and sustenance. It means you should exercise rigorous but good-humored discernment about any oppressive or demeaning ideas that are flying around. You should protect and preserve the vulnerable parts of your life, but do so with tough-minded compassion, not ornery overreactions. Be skeptical, but warm; breezily resilient but always ready to stand up for what’s right. (P.S. The better you shield yourself against weird surprises, the more likely it is you’ll attract interesting surprises.)
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20):
The atoms that compose your body have existed for billions of years. Originally created by a star, they have been part of many forms before you. But they are exactly the same in structure as they have ever been. So in a very real sense, you are billions of years old. Now that you know that, how do you feel? Any different? Stronger? More expansive? More eternal? I bring these thoughts to your attention, Pisces, because 2021 will be an excellent year for you to come to a more profound and detailed understanding of your true nature. I hope you will regularly meditate on the possibility that your soul is immortal, that your identity is not confined to this historical era, that you have been alive and will be alive for far longer than you’ve been taught to believe.
ARIES (March 21-April 19):
As you ripen into a more fully embodied version of yourself, you will summon ever-greater discrimination about where to seek your inspiration. I trust that you will increasingly divest yourself of any tendency you might have to play around with just any old mediocre fire. More and more, you will be drawn to high-quality blazes that provide just the right amount of heat and light—neither too much nor too little. And you will steadfastly refrain from jumping into the flames, as glamorously dramatic as that might seem—and instead be a master of deft maneuvers that enable you to get the exact energy you need.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20):
Denstu is a major Japanese advertising agency headquartered in Tokyo. Annually since 1925, its new employees and freshly promoted executives have carried out a company ritual: climbing 12,388-foot-high Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest peak. The theme of the strenuous workout is this: “We are going to conquer the symbol that represents Japan more than anything else. And, once we do that, it will signify that we can do anything.” In anticipation of what I suspect will be a year of career gains for you, Taurus, I invite you to do the following: Sometime in the next six weeks, go out in nature and perform an equivalent feat.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20):
Today I received a new email from a Gemini friend who lives in London. It was date-stamped January 15, 2015. Weird! In it, she talked about applying for a new job at a publishing company. That was double weird, because February 2015 was in fact the time she had gotten the editing job that she still has. Her email also conveyed other details about her life that I knew to be old history. So why did it arrive now, six years late? I called her on the phone to see if we could unravel the mystery. In the end we concluded that her email had time-traveled in some inexplicable way. I predict that a comparable event or two will soon happen in your life, Gemini. Blasts from the past will pop in as if yesterday were today.
CANCER (June 21-July 22):
Eugene Sue (1804–1857) was a popular French author whose stories often offered sympathetic portrayals of the harsh living conditions endured by people of the lower economic class. Writing generously about those downtrodden folks made him quite wealthy. I’d love to see you employ a comparable strategy in the coming year. What services might you perform that would increase your access to money and resources? How could you benefit yourself by helping and uplifting others?
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):
The beautiful and luxurious fabric known as silk comes from cocoons spun by insect larvae. Sadly for the creatures that provide the raw material, they’re usually killed by humans harvesting their handiwork—either by being stabbed or boiled alive. However, there is a special kind of silk in which manufacturers spare the lives of their benefactors. The insects are allowed to mature into moths and escape. I propose that we make them your spirit creatures in the coming weeks. It’s an excellent time for you to take an inventory of everything you do, and evaluate how well it upholds the noble principle of “Do no harm.”
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
“Any time that is not spent on love is wasted,” declared the Italian poet Torquato Tasso. Although I am sympathetic with his sentiment, I can’t agree that acts of love are the only things ever worth doing. Sometimes it’s healthy to be motivated by anger or sadness or skepticism, for example. But I do suspect the coming weeks will be a favorable time for you to be in intense devotion to Tasso’s counsel. All the important successes you achieve will be rooted in an intention to express love and compassion.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):
I heard a story about how a music aficionado took a Zen Buddhist monk to a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. The monk wasn’t impressed. “Not enough silence!” he complained. I’m puzzled by that response. If the monk were referring to a busy intersection in a major city, I might agree with him, or the cacophony of a political argument among fanatics on Facebook. But to want more silence in one of history’s greatest pieces of music? That’s perverse. With this in mind, Libra, and in accordance with astrological omens, I encourage you to seek extra protection from useless noise and commotion during the coming weeks—even as you hungrily seek out rich sources of beautiful information, sound, and art.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21):
“Some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal,” wrote Scorpio author Albert Camus. If you’re one of those folks, I’m happy to inform you that you have cosmic permission to relax. The coming weeks will be an excellent time to explore the pleasures of NOT being conventional, standard, ordinary, average, routine, prosaic, or common. As you expansively practice non-normalcy, you will enhance your health, sharpen your wits, and clarify your decisions.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
Our lives tend to be shaped by the stories about ourselves that we create and harbor in our imaginations. The adventures we actually experience, the problems we actually face, are often (not always) in alignment with the tales we tell ourselves about our epic fates. And here’s the crux of the matter: We can change the stories we tell ourselves. We can discard tales that reinforce our pain, and dream up revised tales that are more meaningful and pleasurable. I believe 2021 will be an excellent time for you to attend to this fun work. Your assignment: Be a self-nurturing storyteller.
Homework: What’s the first adventure you will embark on when the pandemic subsides? FreeWillAstrology.com
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CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19):
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