In 2005, ten black-based black-led community organizations working in the Delta formed a partnership of parents, students, educators and public officials to create a quality public education accessible to all children.
The Roundtable focus:
Partners in the MS Delta Catalyst Roundtable (alphabetically):
Action Communication and Education Reform (Duck Hill, Montgomery County, MS)
ACER, formed in the 1990s, is located in Duck Hill in Montgomery County, which is just outside the eastern edge of the Delta and has a 45% black population. Three of the five county school board members are members of ACER. ACER’s community organizing work helped to lay the foundation for the election of the county’s first black school superintendent.
Director: Al White.
Activists With A Purpose (City of Grenada, Grenada County, MS)
AWAP is an emerging organization in the Town of Grenada, on the eastern edge of the Delta, where fierce and violent desegregation battles were fought in 1967. The organization’s leader became the first black person and also the first woman elected Mayor in this town. AWAP is providing intensive policy training to parents and students. The organization is working to change discipline, dress code and school fees policies that are used to put students out of class and out of school.
Director: Dianna Freelon-Foster.
Citizens for a Better Greenville (Greenville, Washington County, MS)
CBG was formed after the turn of the century in the Delta’s largest city, Greenville, which sits on the edge of the Mississippi River and whose population of 46,000 is almost 70% black. CBG has broken the mold by focusing its organizing work in the lowest wealth communities in the city and has achieved success in engaging community to elect accountable officials to the City Council, who in turn have appointed accountable members to the city school board. CBG has also worked with young people and school administrators to implement an innovative conflict resolution program in the high school that is run by and for the students.
Director: Joyce Parker.
Citizens for Educational Awareness (Kilmichael, Montgomery County, MS)
CEA was formed less than 5 years ago to fight for a fair redistricting of the Kilmichael municipal board, in the east part of Montgomery County. After the redistricting process, CEA worked to build community understanding of the importance of the election process to policy objectives in this 50% black small town of 850 persons. Out of this consciousness-raising process Kilmichael elected Mayor the first black person and also first woman. Kilmichael also elected its first majority-black Board of Alderpersons.
Director: Mary Young.
Concerned Citizens for a Better Tunica County (Town of Tunica, Tunica County, MS)
CCFABTC was formed in 1993 to fight to create a quality education for all students in this 76% black Mississippi River county which ranked as the 2nd poorest county in the US in the 1990 census, and whose school system was ranked among the 10 weakest in the State of Mississippi. In 2007 a majority of the county school board and county board of supervisors are members of CCFABTC and the school district is in the beginning phase of an innovative 5-year plan to reform the school district.
Director: Melvin Young.
Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc. (Lexington, Holmes County, MS)
Nollie’s, formed in 1996, is located in this 80% black Holmes County, on the eastern edge of the Delta, which was one of the 10 poorest counties in the US in the 1990 census, and in which 3 of its 7 schools are now priority schools because of low performance of students on standardized tests. Nollie’s is building a model of effective parent and student involvement in education policy formation and implementation notwithstanding resistance with the school administration. Two of the five school board members came through the organizing process.
Director: Ellen Reddy.
Parents and Youth United for a Better Webster County (Eupora, Webster County, MS)
PYU is an emerging organization in majority-white Webster County where both black and white parents and students contend that discriminatory application of school policies negatively impact the ability of students to obtain the education to which they ought to be entitled. PYU is working with parents and students to rectify these injustices on an individual level, and organizing to impact the formation and implementation of policies to achieve fairness for all students in the district.
Director: Cherraye Oats.
Southern Echo (Jackson, Hinds County, MS – statewide organization)
Southern Echo was founded in 1989 as a leadership development, education and training organization working to develop effective accountable grassroots leadership in the African-American communities in rural Mississippi and the surrounding region through comprehensive training and technical assistance programs. This work has carried Echo staff into 12 other states in the south and southwest.
Director: Leroy Johnson.
Sunflower County Parents and Students Organization (Indianola, Sunflower County, MS)
IPSG was formed in 1995 in 68% black Sunflower County, where the White Citizen’s Council were first created to fight school desegregation in 1954. IPSG sought to create a grassroots based and led organization to impact the formation and implementation of education policy in the Indianola School District. The parents and students in IPSG have won major victories in the creation of an after-school Math Games League, building of science labs in the all-black Middle School, reform of the discipline policies and practices in order to keep children in school where they can learn, and systematic representation of students and parents before the administrators and school board. The organization changed its name in 2008.
Director: Betty Petty.
Youth Innovative Movement Solutions (Tupelo, Lee County, MS)
YIMS, located in Northeast Mississippi in Lee County, is working in majority-black Panola County in the Delta, as well as with black youth and parents to impact policy in the school districts in Lee and Pontotoc counties. YIMS originally began its work in Montgomery County in the mid-1990s and then moved up to the northeast part of the state several years ago.
Director: Drustella Neely.