I was nervous about going to work with the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights, because I had never been to Mississippi, and I had never done any legal work since starting law school. The Workers Center is an advocacy organization that provides organizing support, and training for low wage, non-union workers in Mississippi.

Along with 7 other current 1L and 2L’s, I was welcomed with open arm by Jaribu Hill, founder of the workers center and CUNY alum of ’93. Right away, we entered into Mississippi politics- we spent the first day at the capitol, getting to meet everyone from state senators to the folk in the Occupy Jackson movement.

Once back in Greenville, MS, the 8 of us split up a few of the myriad of projects that the Workers’ Center handles, from researching new voter registration laws, housing rights in Mississippi, workers compensation information to be given to senators, to helping Jaribu get an awesome public service announcement about workers’ needs on local TV.

There ended up a million things I learned from my time in Greenville, but I think the biggest thing is how important it is to take time to learn the place where you want to work. Jaribu is many things- advocate, attorney, actor- but she is also a great guide and teacher. She often insisted that we take time to actually get to know Mississippi- whether it be through having dinner with the head of Mississippi’s ACLU, or taking time and going to the Emmitt Till  Historic Intrepid Center in Glendora, MS.

A lot of our time in the Delta was spent really understanding what kind of work is needed in Mississippi, and also how our work was going to impact folks’ lives. It is irresponsible to try and work with people if you don’t even try and understand where they are coming from. I am not pretending to understand all of Mississippi, I think it could maybe take a life time to understand it, if that even a possible feat. Mississippi has a lot of intricacies- racism is alive and well there, and it lives along side a rich and present history of people of color’s liberation struggles.

Personally, I am so glad to have had an opportunity to be part of that history, if even for just two weeks. The connection that I’ve made with Mississippi will for sure live much longer than that.

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