Monday, June 22, 2020

Linking Past, Present, and Future

Jan Hillegas authored this guest column.  Guest columns may be submitted to

U.S. history is full of surges of activity – to end slavery, allow women to vote, organize industries and crafts, integrate public accommodations and schools, establish voting rights for African Americans, end the Vietnam war.

Yet we have today versions of all that has been protested and “reformed” in the past – human trafficking, immigrant labor exploitation, voter suppression, corporate anti-union drives, worldwide military occupations of countries and torture of their citizens. We know, but these travesties are largely just part of the landscape that we live in.

Mississippi has elected the highest number of African American public officials, but still has the Confederate emblem on its flag and a legislature that won’t ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to say women should have the same rights as men.

In late May and early June 2020, the black and white, mostly young and local, protesters against racism and injustice in at least 23 Mississippi communities numbered in the thousands for the first time – a very welcome surge for those of us who have labored for decades in movements for change and kept sidewalks warm for this generation.

So I appeal to you -- unless you just like the idea of surging onto the streets then dispersing, over and over, with no apparent end to the cycle – this time let’s do things differently.

Let’s be clear that every one of us can play a role in breaking the habit of advancing and retreating.

Vangela Wade of the MS Center for Justice said it well: “The truth is that there is no one coming to rescue us. We are the ones who must scramble.”

And that means preparing and spending the time.

As a veteran of 1964 Freedom Summer, I have often thought that “we” stopped too soon. Some early ‘60s black activists suffered PTSD from the violence and stress of organizing efforts. Most black and white volunteers signed on for short stints and soon returned to out-of-state homes or colleges. Many advanced to teach at colleges and universities and became part of an “academic model” of professor / teacher in front, everybody else audience – not unlike the upbringing of many of us with preacher in front and everybody else congregation. We forgot that Ella Baker said “Strong people don’t need strong leaders” and the Movement mantra of “Let the people decide.”

The academic model is pervasive in almost all spheres today. Even public forums have speakers or panels, then “allow” a set time for questions and answers, often with little or no discussion, and soon it’s time to close. We can do better.

We build schools with one teacher at the front, and auditoriums, theaters, and arenas where a few people speak, perform, or vie for victory while we watch.

We can learn to talk with each other, wrestle with ideas and problems and hopes and dreams, and plan paths to change.

Individuals who’ve won elections operate within established processes, and few of the rest of us know much about what they do, never mind have anything to say about it unless we are able to take them to court and wait years for a judgment. Elected officials need to urge us to work with them, not meet without our knowing. They need our experience and questions and skills.

What happens in schools and public bodies is usually decided by small groups, and many a teacher or officeholder can get mighty peeved if we want to talk about alternatives.

And there are alternatives or hints of them all over the internet and in the full range of skills and knowledge of people in our communities. We can figure out good ways to house and feed everyone, govern, do justice, teach, make and use money, communicate, cooperate, afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, and all the other tasks of democracy and human decency.

Protests in the streets may have to continue for some time, if current holders of power won’t see the light. Peace departments must be larger than police departments, with mental health and conflict resolution specialists. Force can be replaced by preventive services, including inclusive Medicare for All without debt and delay.

Emerging from those protests are the challenges of participation and openness and dedication.

Who will attend meetings of the county election commission, achieve widespread advance notice of the meetings, become familiar with the voting technology and details of preparation and election-day processes, ask questions and speak out on issues as they arise?

Who will attend sessions of the county board of supervisors, municipal council, levee district, school board, Transportation or Public Service Commission, or the Mississippi Legislature, learn about its responsibilities and powers, find out residents’ needs and problems, and ask questions and speak out on issues as they arise?

Who will dive into the intricacies of how local, state, federal and world economies now work and collaborate with others to devise ways to make monetary, commercial, governmental, and regulatory systems serve people’s needs?

Who will learn to build sustainable, affordable housing then teach and encourage others to do it?

Who will help improve methods of serving people in poverty, while working with others to make poverty only a relic of the past?

Who has the people skills to bring neighbors together, raise funds, or explain complex facts?

Who will plant the organic gardens, cook the organic meals that keep us healthy, keep wastewater out of the rivers, or devise ways of reusing masses of plastic and paper? Who will improve solar batteries, wind turbines and other technology so dangerous and expensive power sources can be eliminated?

Who will learn from Socrates, Marva Collins, Freedom Schools and so many others and transform our schools into thinking, learning, nurturing, and empathizing places that children delight in attending?

And who will contribute the art, music, dance or other talents that will keep us all on track for generations to come, ever improving in ways and at speeds not yet known?

I beg you, don’t get tired, don’t get distracted. There are miles to go and we are the vehicles to get there.


Anonymous said...

Pretty words, but....

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure." - Thomas Jefferson

And Lord, there's a cow pasture full of it in the Mississippi Legislature and Executive Branch offices (some being currently redecorated with taxpayer dollars).

Anonymous said...

Go home liberal. Your ideology has destroyed the country.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't the strains of "The Internationale" audible when you reach the closing paragraphs?

Anonymous said...

We can only lie to ourselves and play pretend nice for so long. Just like you can't lie to your children forever about Santa Claus and Elf on the Shelf. Reality and the truth always rise to the surface.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see absence of fathers in the home mentioned in this write-up.

Anonymous said...

Applaud you for posting this liberal philosophy and message.

Sadly, most liberals do not want to hold an honest conversation today, with a gave and take on data. Once data are discussed, a conservative is delegated to "racist" and the conversation is ended.

There are some pernicious effects of the chilling lack of freedom of speech now being seen in our country. The media have hammered everyone with the hours of being black in America. This onslaught results in companies and universities doing "self-exams." Are there areas of "micro aggression?" Empowered black employees are using these opportunities to complain about white supervisors.

These efforts will not bring us together. These efforts will drive us apart.

But thanks for posting this piece.

Anonymous said...

@11:30a- “reality and truth” is called history. Yes, much of it sucks (because humans are selfish beings), but it’s important to understand how and why we got to where we are today. If you erase history, there’s no explanation/understanding of how we evolved. If only the last three generations had openly taught children of all colors what mistakes NOT to make (using history) versus the teaching of hate and discourse that led to where we are today. Instead, we’ve tiptoed around, removed anything offensive, and allowed our children to learn the propagated views of their individual communities.

Nothing stated by this columnist will effect change in the hearts and minds of those full of hate.. on BOTH sides. Until BOTH sides admit they have been wrong and have propagated the current hate and violence, nothing will improve amongst people in the streets. You CANNOT legislate morality. It’s a heart issue, not a law/legal issue.

I’m tired of hearing about these rainbow and unicorn “peace departments” aimed at the mentally ill and drug addicts. What is the healthcare system doing? WHY do we want to endanger these “peace keepers” by injecting them into hostile situations? (Don’t give me that training garbage... there’s absolutely no way to prepare and train for every scenario... people will still die... unfortunately, it will likely be the innocent “peacekeepers.”) FAMILIES need to take care of their own. COURTS need to help these families commit those who refuse to comply with their medical treatment or those strung out on drugs. Sadly, it’s typically the families that enable their bad behaviors... then the families want to cry for help when it’s too late. We need to stop “loving” (enabling) our sick children and brothers and sisters to death!! And, stop blaming the police for our failures as citizens. The police/government are NOT responsible for the bad choices our communities have made and make. They just get stuck dealing with the aftermath of our selfish choices.

I’ve made the following comment on another thread, but don’t believe it was approved. You can make every single change being demanded by the current movements... change the flag, defund police, create peacekeepers, etc., etc. If you made every single one of those changes effective today, THE HEARTS AND MINDS of those looking for an excuse for their bad choices will NOT BE CHANGED. Their lives will continue as they have. They will still be undereducated and not willing to be productive members of society. They will still want an “easy” route versus hard work. Opportunities will not increase for them UNLESS they are willing to put in the work. These people, of all races, have been told for generations that someone owes them (for slavery and/or because the system is giving to others for nothing) (I’ve heard many white people use the second part of that last phrase numerous times when justifying choices that land them dependent on the government), which interprets to putting something in their hands for nothing... not equality. THIS is the cycle we need to break; however, the politicians, and parents, and pastors aren’t saying this to their communities.

If we want to see REAL change in our communities, we must start at home. People need to commit to their families. Fathers need to man up and stay in the home and raise their children. People need to stop having kids with multiple partners... you are screwing up these kids! Sex is NOT worth the damage you are causing! There’s a great video of Denzel Washington laying down the truth about this EXACT topic. Look it up if you haven’t seen it. There’s also a version with thoughts on racism by Morgan Freeman and others added. It provides excellent conversation about the racism mindset.

Anonymous said...

Pretty words but "history" is largely written by the victors.

Anonymous said...

12:29 PM
I think you have drunk too deeply ofthe Hollywood Koolaid. Your perception of reality is forever warped by "actors" whose opinions have less value than bird droppings.

Anonymous said...

Last week I had a young mother tell me that the system was against her. She has a job, but is living paycheck to paycheck, and was frustrated because she could not get a job that paid enough for her to "break out." She blames the "system" but she has an 8th grade education, and three kids by different fathers, none of whom are contributing to their support. She makes $10 an hour but lacks the skills to move up. I was frank with her and told her it wasn't the "system," which I detected was code for being black, but her poor choices early in her life, which have burdened her with responsibilities and the economic burden that is attached. I feel sorry for her but until she pauses and gets a basic education she is sunk. And I don't know how she can pause.

Anonymous said...

What a completely naive piece of drivel by Ms. Hillegas! Not only could we never get to where she says we "need" to go, but no one would want to live there if we did! If you read her piece, can you imagine the pandemonium of having everyone in charge at once!

Liberalism is truly a mental disorder.

They call it tolerance said...

In liberal parlance a discussion is an activity where you listen, they talk and you do what they say without question or retort.

Dan Hise said...

Ms. Hillegas, thank you for your service. Few people appreciate how much better things are around here because you and your fellow activists pushed hard and kept pushing. The conservative in me wants to stop change, or slow it to a trickle, but the liberal in me knows that selfishness will cause things to change for the worse unless someone is pushing to get us to listen to the better angels. I'm pretty sure that that has been the bottom line of human history since we came down out of the trees. Besides advances in personal hygiene, are we better off as a species? I believe we are, even though there is ample evidence to the contrary.

So much comes down to faith. I have faith in liberalism to the extent it struggles to diminish cruelty. I have faith in conservatism to the extent it struggles to diminish cruelty. We know in our souls that the elimination of cruelty would make life better for every human. It's something that each of us has the power to do. Will it ever happen? I can only hope, and work on my own relationships. Courage.

Anonymous said...

@1:04p- There's enough of the ugly there to teach with the pretty. Imagine if we actually taught our students to do their own research and learn to digest multiple opinions and sets of "facts"... the "real" truth typically lies in the middle.

@1:27p- Reading comprehension is NOT your strong suit, is it? (Unless, you're attempting to be sarcastic... who knows with this blog.) I'm most definitely a conservative and nothing in my comment reflects the shit we hear out of Hollywood. People need to take care of their own... period! If people put their energy into their families and their futures they wouldn't have time for this neverending blame game.

@1:34p- That is EXACTLY what I'm talking about! I bet if you inquired, her family wasn't truly supportive of her education (likely undereducated themselves) and I bet she comes from a broken home. (Ask any teacher from kindergarten through 12th grade... they can tell you EXACTLY the parents I'm speaking about.) It's a pity her family didn't step in after the first child and try to guide her to a more successful future. The "system" that's keeping her back is the one she likely believed in to continue having children out of wedlock... the system that didn't make her fear for her financial security because those children came without medical bills and with free food and monthly checks.

Anonymous said...

It’s stunning to see these demeaning, derogatory comments aimed at someone who has spent her life trying to make things better. She was and is a brave warrior for justice. Some of us, myself included, couldn’t even carry her sword. I still believe that we here in Mississippi are more adept than most in the art of agreeably disagreeing. I hope we can find that decent ground again.

Have faith said...

The wildcard in all of this is that we are dealing with humans. When an interaction is required with humans the outcome is usually negative. Humans, for whatever reason, seem to be predisposed to self-destruction. Not only self-destruction but when pressed to accept personal responsibility, for their own destructive decisions, everyone else is responsible, but themselves. It seems that very few humans are able to overcome the destructive decision-making default. Every negative fault of the human species is on full display and is not only allowed but encouraged. There was a book put together on this subject that no one studies it, at least it seems that way. That book warns humans of their predisposition to self-destruct and the damage that it causes. It's a book about race, the human race. The human race is the only race on this planet. That book is the Christian Bible. Study it.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:13 - yep. She made things better. But does she continue to keep the oppressed down with the people she votes for. Hers a dollar to a donut she isn’t on the Trump train or voted for Tater Tot.

And there you have it. People biatching about systemic racism fail to comprehend things like crime statistics. Because if you cite them, you are a racist.

Anonymous said...

Here’s what Jan and others with agendas will not admit but Bob Woodson (an African American and one of the original Civil Rights activist) will/did:

“In the civil rights movement, one of the great promises we (blacks) gave to low income blacks, is if you were to elect blacks to public office through the voting rights act, and we (blacks) were running those institutions, that all of black America would be better off.”



“So many of those people taking office use this money to create a class of people who are running these cities.”

“Now after 50 years of liberal Democrats running the inner cities where we have all of these inequities that we have, RACE IS BEING USED AS A RUSE, AS A MEANS OF DEFLECTING ATTENTION AWAY from critical questions such as why are poor blacks failing in systems run by their own people, if race was an issue.”

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel


Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS