POWERFUL WOMEN LED TO THE MS STATE WORK AROUND THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE AND MAY VERY WELL BE FORERUNNER OF BOTH THE NATIONAL CRADLE-TO-GRAVE PIPELINE & SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE
Activists With a Purpose, an organizational member of the MS Coalition to End Corporal Punishment (MSCECP), invites you to share with us in our "Sistah Space" at the close of Women's History Month 2023. The MSCECP, formed in 2020, grew out of the ongoing work of Nollie Jenkins Family Center (NJFC). NJFC, the facilitating organization for the MSCECP, has been engaged in this struggle for more than three (3) decades. The Prevention of Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse work in Mississippi was led by Citizens for Quality Education (now NJFC) which led to the MS state work around the School-to-Prison Pipeline and may very well be forerunner of both the national Cradle-to-Grave Pipeline & School-to-Prison Pipeline.
While the MSCECP, comprised of individuals and organizations in Mississippi and across the nation, is working to abolish corporal punishment, this is not the whole of our mission and vision. Rather it is rooted in our collective years of organizing and laboring to build a nurturing, learning and affirming educational environment for our children through policy and practice. Many "sistahs" have been engaged in this work throughout the decades of our struggle, Ellen Reddy,
Betty Petty, Marilyn Young, Brenda Hyde, Joyce Parker, Janus Saulsberry, Tinsa Hall-Morris, Nsombi Lambright, Drustella Neely, Ashley McKay, Cherraye Oats, Mary Young, Kameisha Smith, Mattie Stoddard, Mattie Tucker, Janice Harper, Francine Jefferson and many, many others, some of who have joined the ancestors.
This collective organizing was grounded in the Black Freedom Struggle. It was within this struggle that in 1989 former seasoned Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists and young visionaries began the work of Education Reform/Justice organizing in the state of Mississippi with a particular focus on the Mississippi Delta. It was within this struggle that organizing stakeholder groups like the Mississippi Education Working Group (MEWG) and the Mississippi Delta Catalyst Roundtable were formed. It was within this struggle in the late 1990's and early 2000's that the work to expose and stop the disproportionality in Zero-Tolerance Policies and other harsh discipline practices of Black students across the state took flight. It was within this struggle that around 2003 and 2004 NJFC and others placed the broader framework of Juvenile Justice within an equitable education framework.
Also, within this struggle NJFC in their local work and within the education stakeholders network lifted up corporal punishment as one of those harsh discipline practices that should be stopped, recognizing the harm inflicted and possible trauma experienced from the practice of corporal punishment. Unfortunately, when the conversation was uplifted within the state education network a number of the organizations were not ready to own our internalization of "corporal punishment" not being harmful but saw it rather as a necessary and cultural form of discipline. Perhaps it was our miseducation that did not allow us to move forward.
And then it happened, June 4, 2020, the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hand of police captured in a horrific video. This led to protests in the streets all over America and there it was. There it was, though it was there all the time, there in the past over and over again and since. There it was the ugly truth exposed, Black people; whether they be adults or children, old or young, are not "deserving of being treated with dignity and respect, a sense of worth and the right to grow and "live free". There it was, the ugly historical truth of inflicting physical violence on Black bodies. YES, THERE IT WAS, AND IN THAT MOMENT OF THAT UGLY TRUTH, I KNEW I HAD TO BE "ALL THE WAY IN". THIS WAS MY PERSONAL AND ORGANIZATIOINAL RE-ENTRY INTO THE FIGHT TO ABOLISH CORPORAL PUNISHMENT.
Contribution by: Dianna Freelon-Foster