Mississippi State House
Mississippi State House
Remove the Confederate Symbol from the Mississippi Flag
At least 581 people have been lynched in the state of Mississippi throughout U.S. history, the vast majority of whom were hung because of one thing: they were black. This history is troubling enough, but it’s even more so when you see Mississippi’s junior Senator, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, making a joke this month at a political fundraiser where she laughs about how if one of her donors invited her, “she’d attend a public hanging.” The comment drew sharp responses from voters on the left and the right, noting that Sen. Hyde-Smith’s opponent is an African American. But Sen. Hyde-Smith has yet to apologize. This kind of language would be unacceptable in so many places around the country. But not yet in Mississippi, my home state, where one of the most violent and destructive symbols in all of American history -- the Confederate emblem -- still adorns our state flag. It’s time to say enough is enough. Join me in calling on Mississippi to remove the Confederate symbol from its state flag. Over the last few years we’ve seen so many communities come to terms with the racist and shameful legacy of the Confederacy, and pull their support of this symbol which for so many people represents the violence and hatred that led to hundreds of “public hangings” all around the South. South Carolina’s government stopped displaying the Confederate symbol; cities around Mississippi, including tourism-friendly places like Biloxi, have also stopped flying our state flag because it bears the Confederate emblem. Even a judge in Mississippi over the last month removed the Mississippi State Flag from his courtroom because he felt the Confederate symbol sent the message that not everyone was welcome or equal in his court. The Confederate symbol in our state flag is a dying, hate-filled relic, and it’s time for a change. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are appalling and show a complete lack of understanding at the race-based violence so many people in Mississippi have faced for the last 150 years. But her comments are just a symptom of a larger issue in our state that stems directly from the tolerance, acceptance and celebration of the Confederate symbol in our state flag. A symbol that for so many years has been championed by those who want to hurt, minimize, humiliate, and enslave an entire population of people. I'm proud to call Mississippi my home state, but I know that it not only can do better -- it needs to do better. Now is the moment to show Mississippi and the rest of the country that hateful symbols have no place in our politics. Let’s send a message now to Mississippi lawmakers that the historic emblem that normalizes so much violence toward people has no place in our State Flag. Join me in calling on Mississippi lawmakers to remove the Confederate symbol from our flag.
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
Remove the Confederate battle emblem from Mississippi’s state flag.
Friend -- The news of the massacre at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston horrified me. But it didn’t surprise me. I come from Mississippi, where the struggle for racial harmony has always been particularly tough, and violent. Just this year, ten people were convicted of assaulting African Americans in Jackson, in racially motivated attacks. They pelted people with bottles. They ran over a man with their truck. This was not 1965. This just happened. But there is so much more to Mississippi than this raw racial wound. Growing up there, I was instilled with a deep sense of hope, faith, and love. I truly believe it’s my strong Mississippi values that have made me a lifelong champion for peace and justice. What happened in South Carolina was an atrocity. But I know positive changes can come from it, and I know that my beautiful home state of Mississippi can lead by taking the Confederate symbol off its state flag. To insist on keeping the Confederate battle symbol on Mississippi’s flag at this point would be a statement of state-sanctioned hatred,and it would be unforgivable. Please join me in calling on Mississippi lawmakers to show the world how great this state can be, and remove it immediately. “For too long we were blind to the pain the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens.” These moving words were spoken by President Obama at his eulogy for Senator Clementa Pinkney, one of the nine people murdered in South Carolina, and nowhere are they more apt than in Mississippi. Yes, the flag is a part of our history, but it’s also a reminder of the violence and racial oppression that its bearers were fighting for. Can’t we begin a new chapter in Mississippi history, and in all states in America? Now is the time to join forces and face this issue, which has cast a shadow on our state for too long. Even Republican Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn agrees: Now is the time to leave the Confederate battle flag behind us -- before another innocent person is attacked in its name. I am calling on my fellow Mississippians, and everyone who supports this change across the nation, to sign this petition to help bring about a new day for the great state of Mississippi. Remove the Confederate battle emblem from Mississippi’s state flag. Thank you, Duvalier Malone
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
Substance Use Disorder Policy Reform
I just had one of the hardest conversations I've had in recovery with the mother of a young man who lost the battle with substance abuse this morning. God bless you ma'am. I had just spent the evening with him and he was fighting. A 20 year old, Ole Miss student lost his life, and we as a community lost again, due to our inability to confront a disease that claims the lives of more young people than any other single factor. What is it going to take to realize that the stigma and criminalization associated with substance use disorder is killing people and destroying families? Please consider joining me in addressing this issue in our community, state, and nation. Have no mistake about it, we are in the middle of a war, but we are not addressing it effectively. We must provide the resources, education, and tools to proactively combat this epidemic. We're going to start with the defelonization of simple possession, and instead of jail time, mandated treatment by PROPERLY run treatment facilities, of which there is essentially nothing in Mississippi provided by the state for offenders. Then, access to community resources for recovery upon release.