The fight for equity in education still exists

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Former Councilwoman Mary Perry of Meridian (left) made her way to the HBCU rally at Smith Park on Saturday. She was joined by Meridian residents Beverly Harris Williams, retired JPD officer and FBI agent (middle), and Loren Reed Portis. (Advocate photos)
Preparing to rally at the State Capitol on Saturday, August 14th on behalf of HBCUs were (l-r): Alice Tisdale Perkins, Jackson Advocate publisher emerita; former state representative Kathy Sykes; attorney Alvin Chambliss, who argued the Ayers case; and Minister Kathryn Orey.
Southern Echo staff and supporters participated in the HBCU rally at Smith Park along with other education advocates, including Rims and Judy Barber and Bill Chandler with MIRA.

For weeks, Atty. Alvin Chambliss and former State Representative Kathy Sykes did what they do best – organize. The duo, along with other long-time supporters, sought to recreate the magic of the 1993 March for HBCUs that was a massive gathering and strength for the Ayers v. Fordice case during that time.

It took another 9 years before this case, litigated by Atty. Chambliss, won state funded Historically Black Colleges and Universities of Mississippi – Jackson State University, Alcorn State University, and Mississippi Valley State University – $503 million (to be dispersed over the course of 17 years) in an attempt to create equity within Mississippi’s higher education system.

Now, 17 years have passed, and the money has slowed down to a trickle, which unfortunately seems to mirror the community support around this issue as well. The meetup to the march commenced early Saturday morning, August 14 (two weeks prior to the scheduled March on Washington to address all social injustices) at the Masonic Temple on Lynch Street with a handful of people, including Chambliss, Sykes, Ivory Phillips, Kathryn Orey, and JA Publisher Emerita Alice Tisdale Perkins. And, as the day went on, more supporters rallied at Smith Park in downtown Jackson.

Rims and Judy Barber and MIRA founder Bill Chandler came out to show support. Youth from Southern Echo also rallied around the cause and encouragement came all the way from Meridian, MS in the form of retired JPD officer and FBI agent, Beverly Harris Williams, and former Meridian councilwoman Mary Perry.

Chambliss states that he’s ready for a changing of the guard. “In order for us to free the land, we have to have young people. I’m getting ready to turn over the baton. We need Black Lives Matter, we need the NAACP, and we need fraternities and sororities.”

DeAnna Tisdale Johnson has stepped into the role of publisher of her family legacy, the Jackson Advocate. Since March 2020, she has led the publication to once again become an award-winning newspaper with a new logo and website to boot. She is a Jackson native, graduating from Murrah High School and Tougaloo College. She is also classically trained in vocal performance, and, though she’s never broken a glass, she’s known to still hit a high note or two.

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The fight for equity in education still exists

By DeAnna Tisdale Johnson
August 26, 2021