Mississippi Edition

7/6/2020

7/6/2020 - COVID Infiltrates House | Rep. Resigns | Mississippi Center for Justice | Flag Commission: MEC

COVID-19 infiltrates the state House as multiple members, including the Speaker, test positive.And,another House member announces his resignation.Then, we examine what comes after the flag change with the Mississippi Center for Justice.Plus, the role the Mississippi Economic Council will play in presenting a new flag design for voters.Segment 1:The State Department of Health is putting the Mississippi House of Representatives on notice that it is investigating several cases of COVID-19 among chamber members.In a letter to the House, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs told members they have potentially been exposed to the virus and recommended testing as well as a 14-day isolation period. House Speaker Philip Gunn is one of the confirmed cases.He took to Facebook Sunday to share his test results.As members of the House negotiate the threat of COVID within their ranks, one seat in the chamber is now vacant.District 66 Representative Jarvis Dortch submitted his resignation last week.Dortch was in the first year of his second term serving the District.He tells our Desare Frazier, a new opportunity with the Mississippi Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union allows him to pursue policy goals with a different approach.Segment 2:The retiring of the 1894 state flag, adorned with the confederate battle emblem, was a celebrated move for many advocates of social justice and equality.For The Mississippi Center for Justice, it marked a step in the right direction for more needed change.But, as President and CEO Vangela Wade tells us, there is still more work to do.Segment 3:In November, voters will get an up or down vote on a design for a new state banner.That design, approved for public vote by the legislature, will be developed and presented by a nine-person commission.One stipulation of the bill that retired the 1894 flag was that a member of the Mississippi Economic Council be represented on the commission charged with designing the new flag.In part two of our three part series, President and CEO Scott Waller tells our Kobee Vance what it means for his organization to be a part of this endeavor.
7/2/2020

7/2/2020 - Rising COVID Cases | 1894 Flag Retired | Book Club: Vicksburg | Fireworks Safety

State officials expresses concern over rising COVID cases, and asks residents to do their part.And, the 1894 flag is lowered from above the capital for the final time.Then, in today’s Book Club, how the siege at Vicksburg sealed the fate of the confederacy.Plus, fireworks safety for the Independence Day weekend.Segment 1:Mississippi has seen over 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 this week, corresponding with a trend of rising cases across the nation.In addition to cases, hospitalizations continue to rise.During a press briefing yesterday, Governor Tate Reeves shared his concerns over the viability of the the health care system.State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs has been warning of the impending risks to the system.He says the virus causes a strain on hospitals because severe cases can often need weeks of care.Yesterday's press conference was the first time Governor Reeves appeared publicly since the bill to remove the state flag was passed and signed.He likened the weeks leading up to the move a difficult family conversation, and spoke to those who feared a flag change might lead to the removal of monuments.Leaders of the legislature were on hand at the capitol for the final lowering of the 1894 flag that flies above the grounds.During a brief ceremony, flags were presented to Reuben Anderson, President of the Board at the Department of Archives and History.Anderson was also the first black judge to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. House Speaker Philip Gunn, called the moment historic.Segment 2:The battle at Gettysburg is often cited as the civil war’s most important battle but it was Vicksburg that ultimately sealed the fate of the confederacy.In his book, “Vicksburg,” author and historian, Donald L. Miller chronicles the warfare in all its phases, both land and water – the siege, the mine, the assault, the bombardment, sickness, captivity and, famine.Segment 3:The coronavirus pandemic has shutdown many Independence Day celebrations across the country.State Fire Marshall Mike Chaney thinks that could lead to more people celebrating with fireworks at home and in their communities.He joins us to discuss safety when dealing with fireworks this Fourth of July weekend.
7/1/2020

7/1/20 - Gov. Reeves Signs Bill to Retire Flag | Lt. Gov Hosemann | Southern Remedy Health Minute | Derrick Johnson (Part 2)

The Mississippi flag is officially retired as Governor Tate Reeves signs the historic bill.Then, Lt, Governor Delbert Hosemann reflects on the role legislative leadership played in ushering in a moment of change.Plus, after a Southern Remedy Health Minute, COVID-19 and recent episodes of police violence have revealed systemic disparities for black communities. Part Two of our conversation with NAACP President Derick Johnson.Segment 1:Mississippi's state flag, adopted in 1894 and emblazoned with the confederate battle emblem, is officially retired.Governor Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1796 last night, which removes the current state flag and establishes a commission to design and present a new flag.Mississippi has faced increasing pressure in recent weeks to change its flag as national protests against racial injustice have focused attention on Confederate symbols. By a bipartisan vote on Sunday, lawmakers passed legislation to change the flag.Early in his address, Reeves emphasized the need for unity and a vision forward.He also spoke to those concerned that changing the flag would led to stronger scrutiny of confederate monuments and statues.During his nearly nine minute speech, Reeves never directly addressed the history of violence and racist oppression associated with Confederate battle flag - this despite impassioned speeches from both chambers over the weekend reflecting on the image's history of such.Reeves, who campaigned on the promise of giving voters the decision to change that flag, did, however, explain why he changed his mind regarding issue.Segment 2:In a three-week span, the issue of Mississippi's state flag went from non-starter to national spotlight.In the days following the largest protest to descend upon the capital city since the Civil Rights Movement, momentum for lawmakers to take action on the flag swelled so much that when he rapped the gavel to adjourn on Sunday, the emotion of the moment seeped from Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann.He shares more about that moment and the build-up to it with our Michael Guidry.Segment 3:Southern Remedy Health MinuteSegment 4:The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting communities of color disproportionately hard, amplifying cracks in a health care system that leaves many uninsured or under-insured.It has also brought economic hardship on small businesses and rural communities.In Part Two of his conversation with MPB's Desare Frazier, NAACP President and CEO Derick Johnson discusses some of the systemic issues challenging black communities.
6/30/2020

6/30/20 i Lawmakers React to Flag Vote | Derrick Johnson (Part One) | MAC and the New Flag

Lawmakers react to Sunday’s historic vote as the bill awaits the governor’s signature.Then, the President and CEO of the NAACP weighs in on the flag and the role of other confederate iconography.Plus, the part the Mississippi Arts Commission will play in presenting voters with a new flag.Segment 1:Lawmakers returned to the capitol yesterday - one day removed from a vote that drew headlines across the country, and ended the 126 year tenure of a state flag featuring the confederate battle emblem.The bi-partisan, super-majority vote in both chambers signified the state's legislative bodies were ready to make changes to the flag that, over the course of the last month, drew internal and external condemnation.For House Minority Robert Leader Robert Johnson, a Democrat from Natchez, Sunday's vote was a long time in the making - the result of a steadfast resolve to end Mississippi's official association with the confederate flag. He tells our Ashley Norwood, it felt good to see the bill pass, but acknowledges there is still much more work to be done.Segment 2:Derrick Johnson is a native of Detroit, Michigan but came to Jackson, Mississippi for his undergraduate studies at the historically black Tougaloo College - a primary center of activity in the metro region during the Civil Rights Era.Now President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Johnson is helping lead a re-energized call to address the systemic racism rooted in the country's complex past.In part one of his conversation with MPB's Desare Frazier, Johnson reflects on the state flag and role of confederate statues and icons in a nation grappling with racial reconciliation and equalitySegment 3:When Mississippi voters cast their ballots this November, they will have an up or down vote on a newly designed flag.The bill that removes the current state flag also establishes a nine-person commission tasked with presenting that design to the legislature.Three of those are appointments made by the Governor, but must include representation from three state organizations: The Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Economic Council, and the Department of Archives and History.In the first of a three part series, we talk with Malcolm White, the Executive Director of the Arts Commission, about the role his organization will play in presenting voters a new flag.
6/29/2020

6/29/30 - Legislature's Historic Flag Vote | Mississippians React | Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton

The Mississippi legislature sends a bill to the Governor to replace the state flag.Plus, reactions from Mississippians on the historic decision to remove the confederate emblem from the state’s official banner.Then, what one Mississippi mayor is doing to combat the recent spike in coronavirus cases.Segment 1:After 126 years, Mississippi will have a new state flag.Capping a momentous weekend, the Senate finalized the legislature's efforts to remove the current banner with the confederate battle flag with a 37-14 vote on House Bill 1796 Sunday.The vote in both chambers Sunday came after efforts Saturday to suspend the rules to negotiate and introduce new legislation.Requiring a two-thirds super-majority in both houses, the rules vote laid the path for the historic change. We recap the events.Segment 2:The reaction to the Mississippi legislature's vote to change the flag spread across national news broadcasts and reached trending status on social media.But, closer to home, those reactions were more personal, and in ways more visceral.Segment 3:Coronavirus hospitalizations in Mississippi continue to rise across the state,andhealth officials are concerned that the state’s healthcare system could soon be overwhelmed.In response, one Mayor is taking measures to enforce public safety guidelines.Mayor Jason Shelton of Tupelo says residents will be under an executive order requiring them to wear a mask in public buildings.He tells our Kobee Vance how part of fighting the virus is confronting the politicization of mask-wearing.
6/26/2020

6/26/20 - Spikes in COVID-19 Alarm Health Officials | Lawmakers and the State Flag | College Athletics Send Unified Message

As Mississippi soars to its highest single-day report of COVID-19 cases, top health officials assess the potential dangers on the horizon.Then, lawmakers are under mounting pressure to take action on the state flag.And athletic leadership descends upon the capitol to send a unified message to change the flag.Segment 1:State health officials are sounding the alarm over rising cases of COVID-19.Yesterday, the Mississippi Department of Health reported 1,092 new cases of the disease - a number number nearly double the previous high.A state that took 96 days to reach 20,000 cases, is now on pace to reach 30,000 in just a two week span.State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says the high numbers are a result of widespread community transmission.Mississippi is not alone in the recent spikes of COVID-19 cases.States like Arizona and Florida are also experiencing increased rates of new cases.President Donald Trump, in a series of public events has attributed the rise in new cases to ramped up testing.Dr. Dobbs says that isn't the case in Mississippi.Segment 2:Mississippi lawmakers are under mounting pressure from religious groups, big business, and athletic conferences to remove confederate imagery from the state's official banner.As MPB's Michael Guidry reports, for many Mississippians, the state flag remains a constant reminder of a long history of violence and oppression.Segment 3:Coaches and Athletic Directors from Mississippi’s eight public colleges and universities are calling on state legislators to change the flag. Last week, the NCAA revised its long-standing policy on the confederate flag, updating it to prohibit all post-season competition in states that display the image. During a press conference at the capitol, coaches presented a unified message that the time has come to act.
6/25/2020

6/25/20 - Health Officials Concerns | Business Leaders on Flag | Book Club: Uncomfortable

With more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 in two days, health professionals express growing concern over community transmission and the stress on the health care system.Then, the economic pressure to change the flag builds as two top state organizations call on lawmakers to take direct action.Plus, in today’s Book Club, the Mississippi Book Festival kicks off a new podcast series about racism, antiracism and creating positive change.Segment 1:Mississippi's health experts are expressing growing concern that the state's healthcare system could become overwhelmed as hospitalizations and coronavirus cases have reached record numbers this week.The state has also passed 1,000 COVID-19-related deaths.State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs tells our Michael Guidry the rising numbers are due to widespread community transmission that could severely strain hospitals.Segment 2:Following an initial wave of social backlash over the state flag, Mississippi's business community is joining in the call for lawmakers to vote for change.This week the Mississippi Economic Council ran a print ad signed by at least 500 of the state's most prominent business and industry leaders.President and CEO Scott Waller tells our Ashley Norwood the current flag is a hindrance when it comes to attracting business to the state.The Mississippi Bankers Association stood behind changing the state flag in 2001 when votersdecided to keep the 1894 flag containing the confederate emblem. Gordon Fellows, president of the association, says they’re reaffirming their position.Segment 3:The Mississippi Book Festival is recommending a reading list of more than fifty books called “Affirm Black Life.” It’s the basis for a series of conversations on racism, anti-racism and creating positive change.Kicking off the series called “Uncomfortable” Holly Lange, executive director of the Book Festival, talks about the first podcast: a conversation with first lady of Jackson, Dr. Ebony Lumumba.
6/24/2020

6/24/20 - Legislative Black Caucus on Flag | Mississippi Baptist Convention | Southern Remedy Health Minute | ESPY Winner Thomas Lee

The Legislative Black Caucus puts pressure on lawmakers to hold a vote to remove the state flag.Plus, calling it a moral stand, Mississippi’s Baptist Convention joins a growing number of organizations distancing themselves from the confederate emblem.Then, after a Southern Remedy Health Minute, accolades for one Jackson State student culminate with an ESPY Award.Segment 1:Mississippi’s Legislative Black Caucus is pressing lawmakers to hold a vote on removing the state flag with the confederate emblem before the session ends.Gathered outside the state capital yesterday, leadership told members of the media talks are underway to bring the issue to a vote. Representative Chris Bell, a Democrat from Jackson, says bi-partisan efforts to take action on the issue began the Monday after thousands marched in the streets of the capital city demanding change.Segment 2:Leaders of Mississippi’s Baptist Convention Board are calling on state legislators to change the state flag, calling it a ‘moral issue.’Dozens of board members, past and present, signed a letter asking legislators and the governor to remove the flag with its confederate emblem. Current Executive Director Shawn Parker authored and presented the letter.Segment 3:Southern Remedy Health MinuteSegment 4:Thomas Lee made a three pointer that, since March, has shot the Jackson State University student into the national spotlight.That light continued to shine Sunday night when Lee was awarded an ESPY for Favorite "Can't Stop Watching Moment".Thomas Lee joins us to discuss that memorable night and how he is taking advantage of the attention.
6/23/2020

6/23/20 - Equity in Distance Learning Act | Latest State of the State Survey | Kids Count Data Book 2020

A bill to improve distance learning is making its way through the legislature.Then, the latest State of the State survey examines voters’ attitudes about government priorities and leadership during the pandemic.Plus, for the first time in three years, Mississippi dropped in the Kids Count Data Book rankings. We look at the reasons why.Segment 1:The coronavirus pandemic is highlighting the struggles rural and poor school districts are having to provide quality distance learning.The Equity in Distance Learning Act, passed by the Senate and now being considered in the House, is designed to address those disparities.The legislation would provide every public school student in Mississippi with a laptop or tablet, while improving upgrading current technology and wifi access.House Democrat Gregory Holloway of Hazlehurst is on the House Education Committee.He tells our Desare Frazier he hopes the act can help bridge the gap between Mississippi's rural districts and their more affluent counterparts.Segment 2:The latest Millsaps College - Chism Strategies, State of the State Survey comes during a time of heightened public health concerns and economic anxiety.The coronavirus pandemic has set the legislative calendar back months, and a shortfall in revenue means lawmakers will have tough decisions to make when drafting the budget for the next fiscal year.Brannon Miller is the Director of Voter Targeting for Chism Strategies.He says voters are keeping an eye how taxpayer money is being prioritized, and a plurality of them want legislators to protect funding for education.Miller shares this and more results from the survey with our Michael Guidry.Segment 3:For the first time in three years, Mississippi's ranking in the annual Kids Count Data Book decreased - falling from 48th to 49th in 2020.The rank is according to new data released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Children's Foundation of Mississippi.The four domains used in the national rankings include health, education, economic well-being, and family and community.Linda Southward is the Executive Director of the Children's Foundation of Mississippi.She tells us, despite it's low ranking, Mississippi showed improvement in many of the study's indicators.