MISSISSIPPI RISING COALITION
holds the view that the quality of life and well-being of Mississippi residents and the progress of our state are directly related to social, political and environmental factors, and these factors can be directly and positively impacted by our efforts.
As a guide to direct MRC’s organizational focus and actions, we have chosen to use the indicators of social progress as outlined and measured by the Social Progress Imperative in its Social Progress Index: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Well-being and Opportunity.
Basic Human Needs
Nutrition and basic medical care
Water and sanitation
Foundations of Well-being
Access to basic knowledge
Access to communications and information
Health and wellness
Personal freedom and choice
Tolerance and inclusion
Access to education
Dialogue on Race in Mississippi (DORM)
Learn how to be a part of making your community stronger and more inclusive! MRC is offering Dialogue on Race in Mississippi (DORM), an educational process modeled after Dialogue on Race Original Series, the core program of an organization called Dialogue on Race Louisiana.
Its focus is on education, action and transformation. The program is a six-session weekly series backed by factual materials that is facilitated by a biracial pair of trained race dialogue facilitators and structured to set a safe environment for open, honest and brave conversation about racism.
The series is specifically designed to create increased awareness and understanding that leads to informed action and meaningful change around race and institutional racism in our communities. It’s a journey that needs to include all of Mississippi. For more information, email us at: .
MS Gulf Coast Mutual Aid Network
When the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak began, we knew a rapid response disaster relief initiative would be critical to helping impacted individuals survive and meet basic needs now, and in the wake of future crises, while not falling prey to disaster capitalism. MS Gulf Coast Mutual Aid Network is a grassroots disaster relief network based on the principles of solidarity, mutual aid, and autonomous direct action. Mutual aid is voluntary, reciprocal, participatory assistance among equals and being with, not for, disaster survivors. By working with, listening to, and supporting impacted individuals and communities, especially our most vulnerable members, we support what they need to lead their own recovery and build long-term, sustainable and resilient communities.
Disaster survivors themselves are the first responders to crisis; the role of outside aid is to support survivors to support each other. As Mississippi became an epicenter for rising COVID-19 cases in 2020, we mobilized community members here on the Gulf Coast to provide masks, hygiene kits and COVID-19 education to our unhoused neighbors; cleaning supplies, masks, groceries, medical supplies and other necessities to Gulf Coast residents in isolation; sewing machines to an immigrant community in Central MS so they could make masks for their community; produce boxes to food-insecure Black, immigrant and low-income communities in Biloxi, Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs; and we established the crowd-funded MS Gulf Coast Mutual Aid Fund to raise funds to provide rent, utility, medical and food aid to individuals and households unable to afford basic necessities due to loss of employment or reduced hours as a result of the virus.
This mutual aid and rapid response infrastructure we created will remain intact, and expand, to enable us to respond to and care for one another when other natural and man-made disasters occur and existing systems fail us.
If you would like to support our mutual aid network directly, you can make a donation here. All funds go toward direct financial and material aid and are tax-deductible. If you would like to organize a mutual aid network in your community, feel free to use our MRC Mutual Aid Organizing Guide.
Hub City Mutual Aid Project
Despite Mississippi being home to some of the most vast and fertile farmland in the world, it is also home to the highest rate of food insecurity among its residents. Most of the rich farmland in the Delta is owned and farmed by corporate agricultural conglomerates which ship their crops- mainly corn, soybeans and cotton- out of state, instead of utilizing the land to grow healthy foods for Mississippians. These corporate-owned farms have also become largely mechanized in their planting, production and harvesting of crops, consequently leaving many Mississippians living in the surrounding communities who have made their livings for generations as farm workers, without jobs that pay a living wage. Federal and state policy violence and the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow-era racial segregation has resulted in public disinvestment from and deliberate neglect of predominantly Black communities in Mississippi creating poverty or near-poverty conditions and food deserts, where often the only source of food for households is a corner gas station or dollar store.
When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, food insecurity among Black, Indigenous, brown and low-income communities in Mississippi was exacerbated. Here in South MS, Hattiesburg Ward 2 lost its only grocery store due to financial hardship, and area small Black farmers were systematically exculded from the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which was intended to deliver fresh produce and other food stuffs to food-insecure families during the pandemic. In response, MRC established the Hub City Mutual Aid Project, partnering with Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center in Ward 2 to plan and establish an organic community garden. We have also partnered with Big Creole Farm of Hattiesburg to grow and harvest produce. The fruits and vegetables from both the Oseola McCarty Community Garden and Big Creole Farm will go to food-insecure households in Ward 2. We are also engaging in deep, long-term community organizing in Ward 2 to build people power and engagement with state and local government to address policy issues contributing to food insecurity, create conditions that allow for a sustainable food system in Ward 2 that enables all residents to have regular access to healthy foods and identify and facilitate Ward 2 self-determination and advocacy around other public health, quality of life and safety concerns of Ward 2 residents.
Volunteers for both Oseola McCarty Community Garden and Big Creole Farm are welcome! No experience is necessary. For more information, or to join our volunteer roster, submit the contact form here.
Rainbow Garden Coalition
Rainbow Garden Coalition is a community of home-based growers and gardeners in South Mississippi committed to sharing gardening tools, skills and resources with one another and giving a portion of our harvests to food-insecure households in our respective communities through our mutual aid networks. We're also committed to learning and educating others about localized sustainable food systems, their role in reducing hunger and food deserts in Mississippi and how systemic racism and corporatized food systems have created food apartheid in Mississippi.
Request to join Rainbow Garden Coalition here.
five feet four media
five feet four is a media project of Mississippi Rising Coalition. It is a collection of essays, political and social blogs, poetry, and other forms of expression from folks who are a part of a movement to radically change Mississippi. It covers all aspects of life and progress as experienced by those in the heart of the fight. The name, five feet four, comes from a quote of one of Mississippi's fiercest advocates for radical change - Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer... "Sometimes it seem like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I'll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I'm not backing off."
Current alliances & Partnerships
Southern Movement Assembly
In 2019, Mississippi Rising Coalition became a member of the Southern Movement Assembly (SMA). SMA is a formation of frontline leaders and organizations working for justice across many frontlines throughout the thirteen states of the US South. The SMA visions a future of expanded democracy through people power. The plan and work of the SMA is rooted in the history and legacy of Southern resistance and progressive social change. The political commitment of this regional formation is rooted in the words of Southern Freedom Fighter Fannie Lou Hamer: “Nobody is Free until Everybody is Free.”
Participating Organizations align with the Principles of Unity, participate in Southern Movement Assemblies, the annual Organizing Intensive, and participate in Work Teams that facilitate Community and Frontline Assemblies and support the overall organizing efforts. Over 100 organizations have participated in SMAs and have signed on to Southern Peoples Initiative since 2012.
In December 2020, SMA released its State of the South report, its assessment on the state of justice struggles across various frontlines of the U.S. South. Offered from the perspective of leaders and organizations leading both the sustained resistance and creative solutions to injustices, this report is shaped by the work, experiences, thinking, analysis, strategies, relationships and vision of the hundreds of people who have been part of the Southern Movement Assembly over the last decade. In particular, it brings forward the voices and work of the 700+ frontline organizers from across the region making offerings in any of three People’s Movement Assemblies during the summer of 2020. It captures the struggles that communities on the Southern frontlines experience daily and the conditions that shape those struggles. This report highlights the experiences from the frontlines with a goal of informing the shifts needed to achieve real and lasting change.
Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition
In January 2020, the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition , led by the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign, formed in the wake of deadly riots and violence inside the overcrowded, underfunded and inhumane Mississippi prison system. MPRC is a group of formerly incarcerated people, families with loved-ones in prison, advocacy organizations and concerned residents demanding that the state of Mississippi immediately REDUCE the prison population; REMOVE harmful conditions, policies and practices; REMEDY the harm and close Parchman prison for good.
MPRC coalition membership includes but is not limited to: Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign; People’s Advocacy Institute; Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy; Black With No Chaser; One Voice, MS; IWOC MS; MS Southern Poverty Law Center; Mississippi Rising Coalition with national partners including Color of Change, Until Freedom and others.
The following is a vigil produced by Mississippi Rising Coalition and Mississippi artist and founder of Brice Media, Talamieka Brice, commemorating the more than 100 human lives lost while in the custody of Mississippi Department of Corrections in 2020. The video premiered during the 2021 Mississippi Day of Empathy.
Gulf South for a Green New Deal
Gulf South for a Green New Deal (#GulfSouth4GND) is a regional formation of more than 200 organizations advancing long-existing work towards climate, racial, and economic justice in five states across the Gulf South: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida.
Rooted in bottom-up organizing and driven by frontline leadership, we move together on policy, regional action campaigns, and strategic communications. As the nation’s first formation advancing a regional vision for a just climate transition, we are committed to the realization of a uniquely Gulf South version of a Green New Deal that is anchored in the histories, realities, and power of the region.
Read the Gulf South for a Green New Deal policy platform here.