Mississippi Edition


5/22/20 - Holly Springs Church Fire | Churches Re-open | New Corrections Commissioner

Governor Tate Reeves condemns a church fire that's being investigated as an arson.

And Some Mississippi churches are reopening their doors this Sunday, but with some changes.

Then, a profile on Burl Cain—former Warden of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison and nominee for Mississippi’s Corrections Commissioner.

Segment 1:

Governor Tate Reeves says he is heartbroken” and “furious” after a church in Holly Springs was burned down from a suspected arson fire. First Pentecostal Church burned on Wednesday, about a month after it filed a lawsuit challenging city restrictions on gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.  Reeves offered support to the church and says investigators are working to figure who’s responsible.

Many Houses of Worship across the state have been conducting drive thru services for the past two months. Some---even in their homes through online services or other methods. Now- this Sunday--some churches in Mississippi are ready to reopen their doors for regular service using the new guidelines Governor Tate Reeves outlined earlier this week in an eight page document. Suggested changes include---contactless offerings, reduced seating and smaller choirs or soloist.  

Carlous Smith is Pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in Braxton. He tells our Kobee Vance that his church reopened this past Sunday using existing guidance from the CDC and State Health Department.

At New Horizons Church in Jackson, Bishop Ronnie Crudup (Crew-dup)says it's been an adjustment not having Sunday service, but understands the need to keep his congregation safe. 

Segment 2:

After a months-long national search, Governor Tate Reeves is tapping former Angola State Prison Warden Burl Cain to lead the reform efforts within the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The first-term Governor inherited a prison crisis that came to a fever pitch late last year as violence spread throughout the system. Reeves says he chose Cain based on his record of reform at the Louisiana prison. Cain left his position at Angola prison in 2015 amid accusations of side business dealings, misspent funds and wrongful use of inmate labor. In introducing Burl Cain, his nominee for Commissioner of Corrections, Reeves says he has every confidence in his appointee to change the culture in Mississippi prisons. Maya Lau and Gordon Russell were investigative reporters with The Advocate during Cain's later years at Angola. 

Burl Cain's nomination as Commissioner of Corrections was the result of a months-long national search that began soon after Tate Reeve assumes the governorship. He picked self-proclaimed friend and Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs to lead the search. Flaggs shares how Burl Cain rose to the top of the candidate list despite the allegations with our Desare Fraser.

More Episodes


7/10/20 - Gov Tightens Restrictions | Ed Budget Bill | Mask Up | NEH Chairman Jon Peede

The Governor announces upcoming restrictions on a number of targeted counties, and defends his legislative vetoes.Then, leaders at UMMC urge residents to take personal responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe from COVID-19.Plus, how the National Endowment for the Humanities is helping Mississippi institutions during the pandemic.Segment 1:Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is tightening restrictions in 13 counties with significant spikes in coronavirus cases.Reeves made the announcement yesterday during a press briefing after hinting tighter restrictions could come as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. The restrictions are a response, in part, to a health care system under stress due to widespread community transmission.Reeves also defended his decision to veto certain legislation, including two prison reform bills and the education budget.Reeves took exception to a part of the education budget that redirects money from the School Recognition Program into the MAEP.Reeves stood by his characterization of the program cut as a pay cut for teachers.Kelly Riley is Executive Director of Mississippi Professional Educators.She says the education budget bill cuts funding of the MAEP. Segment 2:Medical professionals in Mississippi are warning that the state is in 'the eye of a hurricane' for COVID-19 hospitalizations.This comes as the state experiences a two-week period of record case numbers.Dr. LouAnn Woodward is Vice Chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.She says the state went from shelter-in-place to wide-open, and now is the time for residents to find a healthy middle ground.Segment 3:The National Endowment for the Humanities is receiving $40.3 million in new CARES Act economic stabilization grants to support essential operations at more than 300 cultural institutions across the country. In Mississippi that includes the B.B. King Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Art.NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede is a native of Brandon, Mississippi, with a master's in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi.He shares what the CARES Act funds means for the humanities in Mississippi.

7/9/20 - Gov. Addresses COVID Hospitalization and Vetoes Legislation | Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba | Book Club: Po' Monkeys

The Governor cautions residents, vetoes legislation and defends monuments.Then, the Mayor of Jackson describes the measures the capital city is taking to fight the trend of rising COVID cases.Plus, in today’s book club, the history of an iconic blues lounge chronicled through photos in the book, “Po’ Monkeys.”Segment 1:Mississippi's current hospitalization rate is now the third highest in the country - trailing only Arizona and Texas.The state has seen cases of COVID spike in the last two weeks, causing hospitalizations to reach their highest levels since the first case was reported March 11th.Governor Tate Reeves says the strain on the hospital system is no longer a hypothetical.Reeves began easing restrictions in May with hopes to reopen the state fully on July 1st.State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says the high levels of transmission are not unexpected.Reeves also discusses legislation and efforts to remove confederate statues.Segment 2:Hinds County, home of the capital city, has been the hardest hit county in the state during the coronavirus pandemic.This has prompted the Mayor of Jackson to take strong action that is often more restrictive than state-wide orders.Chokwe Antar Lumumba joins us to discuss the ordinances and safety measures he has enacted to keep residents of the state's largest metro-area safe.Segment 3:Along a dirt road surrounded by farmland in the Mississippi delta is a place that was a mecca for blues fans.This little shack-like lounge welcomed music lovers for more than 50 years before closing in 2016.In the book, “Po’ Monkeys: Portrait of a Juke Joint,” photographer, Will Jacks, shares more than 70 black and white photos that illustrate why Po’ Monkeys was a mandatory stop on a blues pilgrim

7/8/20 - Hospital System Under Stress | Burl Cain (Part 2) | Conversations for Change

Public Health officials report record hospitalizations and describe a system strained of resources.Then, how new Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain plans to repair Parchman and rehabilitate inmates.Plus, after a Southern Remedy Health Minute, a University of Southern Mississippi student from Oxford is using an online platform to encourage Conversations for Change.Segment 1:Mississippi's hospitals are caring for more COVID-19 patients than at any prior point during the coronavirus pandemic - this is according to the latest data from the Mississippi Department of Health.During a briefing yesterday, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said the strain the virus is having on hospitals means certain counties will have to suspend elective procedures because beds are in short supply.The stress to the system is a result of a two week period of record case numbers.Previously, Dobbs indicated the rise was caused by widespread community transmission - mainly among 18-29 year olds.He says now those cases are making their way up the age ladder.Segment 2:Parchman State Penitentiary has long been a target of admonishment for those seeking comprehensive prison reform in Mississippi.The facility has buildings with reportedly inadequate water supplies and no electricity prompting reform advocates to call for its closing.But new Department of Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain wants to keep Parchman open.In part two of his conversation with our Desare Frazier, Cain lays out his plans for Parchman and rehabilitation.Segment 3:Southern Remedy Health MinuteSegment 4:In the wake of the May 25th death of George Floyd, a freshman psychology major and Honors College student at the University of Southern Mississippi felt compelled, like many of her peers, to seek solutions to better her community.So Klaria Holmes, at home in Oxford, organized an online platform with panelists to facilitate a discussion, with input from local residents, on the issues of racial injustice and its intersection with policing.Holmes joins us to share how the events in Minneapolis inspired her to start Conversations for Change.