The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Moral Monday comes to Jackson today as residents of Mississippi's state capital still struggle with need for clean water

Poor People’s Campaign leads march, holds rally today

JACKSON, Mississippi

As Congress considers a new way to get money to Jackson, Mississippi, to fix the decades-old problem of unclean water, residents who still rely on bottled water for the most basic parts of living such as bathing and brushing their teeth will join a Moral Monday march in the state capital to draw more attention to their suffering.

Under the banner of "Free the Land, Clean the Water, Keep It Public," the Mississippi Poor People's Campaign will lead the march, which begins at 4 p.m. CT today (Sept. 26) at Mt. Helm Baptist Church, 300 E. Church St. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., people will march to the intersection of Capitol and Congress streets, where a rally begins at 5:30 p.m. CT.

Bishop William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chairs of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, will join the march and rally. The live stream will be available here.

At an online Moral Monday: Mississippi Voices on Sept. 12, residents talked about the pain of dealing with the water crisis.

"My wife and I, we want to start growing our family," Jackson resident Chris Ellis said during the program. "I know I don't want to be bathing my babies in this."

The water crisis, which is one of many in Jackson over the past few decades because of the city's infrastructure issues, left about 175,000 residents without safe drinking water. The most recent one began at the end of August when a historic rainfall caused a severe drop in water pressure.

Water pressure has been restored, and a boil-water advisory was lifted Sept. 15.

The Jackson water crisis dates to the 1970s, and the city has had plans to improve since 1997. The most recent plan was issued in 2013. Its efforts to upgrade the system have been thwarted by a governor's veto of bipartisan legislation to give the city more ability to collect payments from a private company for its flawed billing and meter systems; the state's refusal to provide necessary funding and other poor decisions.

The city of Jackson is 82% Black, and 48% of people, or 1.3 million residents, in Mississippi are poor or low-income. That includes 58% of children (417,000), 52% of women (792,000), 65% of Black people (708,000), 66% of Latinx people (54,000), and 39% of White people (649,000).

POLITICO reported on Wednesday, Sept. 21, that House appropriators are considering sending as much as $200 million to address the drinking water crisis as part of the stop-gap spending measure to fund the government past Sept. 30.

Documents obtained by POLITICO show draft language that would allow the EPA to send the money directly to the city rather than through the Republican-controlled state government. Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and other Democrats have accused the state of withholding resources from Jackson.

In addition to their roles with the PPC:NCMR, Bishop Barber also is president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and Rev. Dr. Theoharis is director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice.

The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, is building a generationally transformative digital gathering called the Mass Poor People's Assembly and Moral March on Washington, on June 20, 2020. At that assembly, we will demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism by implementing our Moral Agenda.