By Rep. Zakiya Summers
Jackson has suddenly received a lot of so-called concern because it is “Our Capital City” under the guise of public safety. Jackson is not just the Capital City. Jackson is my home, and my roots run deep in Jackson.
My grandfather was William Bill Summers. Bill Summers owned the Summers Hotel, which used to be on Pearl Street near Jackson State University. The Summers Hotel was a safe haven for Black motorists because traveling while Black in the 40s, 50s, and 60s was extremely dangerous. The Summers Hotel was one of two hotels in Jackson where Black people could stay. Granddaddy later added the Subway Lounge to provide entertainment to guests and the public at large. You may have even been there.
I don’t know if Granddaddy would be surprised that in 2023 it is still dangerous for Black people to travel or that mothers like me and fathers must have a very different and necessary conversation with our Black sons about compliance with police so that you can make it home alive. I do believe that he would be proud that I’m living out my ancestors’ dreams.
HB 1020 is an effort at a state takeover of the Capital City. Not only is it complete with flaws, it is also unconstitutional, taking away the right of citizens in the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) to elect members of the judiciary. In addition, it goes against the intent of the creation of the CCID in the first place. It is taxation without representation.
The state would benefit and should focus its energy on curing and righting the wrongs it is responsible for.
Mississippi has the highest prison population in the world. Clearly, criminalizing and over policing our community is not the answer. Mississippi has the highest child poverty rate and infant and maternal mortality rate in the country. Mississippi is 50th on quality of life and life expectancy and at the bottom for health care, too. With all of these things in mind, how is it that Mississippi is using time, energy, and resources to devise a plan to negatively target the city of Jackson but can’t develop a plan to ensure that all Mississippians have access to healthcare, early education, the ballot box, and all of the things needed to improve the quality of life for our citizens?
Why does the state refuse to work with city leaders to support the proposals we advocate for? Why is it okay for the state to have an adverse relationship with its Capital City? What other state in these United States that treats its Capital City this way?
Meanwhile, corporations get tax cuts, marginalized communities continue to be targeted, and partisan politics continue to keep us separated and divided.
I am dissatisfied and you, the citizens of this state, should be, too. Instead of the leadership working alongside us, leadership is working against us – looking to create a city within a city. It is a dangerous precedent.
What’s next and who’s next? It’s ridiculous and shameful. And, Mississippi will continue to burn until it does right by all of her people.