By: Mike Biggs
The Mississippi State Capitol was abuzz today with legislators, lobbyist and staffers scurrying about but what was most notable was the presence of everyday Mississippians. Before the 2015 session was gaveled to order, citizens from across Mississippi gathered to let their representatives and senators know what issues they wanted to see brought to the forefront in what promises to be a very interesting session.
Dueling rallies were held on both ends of the capitol. Moral Movement Mississippi, a coalition of faith, labor, civil rights, immigrant, and various community organizations across Mississippi, held a rally on the steps of the capitol where dozens of state employees, teachers and activists gathered to call for pay raises for Mississippi’s state employees and teachers and for the legislature to fully fund the MAEP. MASE/CWA President Brenda Scott, MAE Executive Director Frank Yates and Tyson Jackson were just a few of the speakers who rallied the faithful. Scott opened the rally with her rendition of Pete Seeger’s “If I had a hammer” which has long been a staple of the progressive movement. Rep. Sherra Hillman-Lane of Waynesboro was there in support.
On the Senate side of the capitol, an anti Common Core rally was held and at times had a tent revival feel to it. Sens. Angela Burks Hill and Michael Watson, flanked by Sens. Tony Smith and Phillip Gandy, spoke to the packed room of supporters. Senators Hill and McDaniel have led the charge over the last 2 years and there just may be enough support now that Lt. Gov. Reeves has signaled he is on board and Gov. Bryant has lent his support. The star of the show however was Rev. C.L Bryant, a Shreveport Baptist preacher. Bryant opened his remarks by saying “today is a good day to fight a fight for the republic and strike a blow for freedom”.
There should be very little doubt that pay raises for Mississippi’s teachers and state employees, funding MAEP and common core will be the top political issues of this session and political season.