Digging Deeper: A Conversation with the Mississippi Center for Justice

“Without us, many Mississippians would have nowhere to turn for their legal challenges.”

As the holidays hit their peak, I know I’ve been slammed and I’m sure these organizations have been too. So I’m doubly grateful for those who have been able to reply. A huge thanks to the Dana Thomas and Beth Orlansky at Mississippi Center for Justice for getting back to be after yesterday’s post. Beth is the Advocacy Director there and took the time to tell me a little more about the organization.

Why is it critical to serve the population you support in the state where you are?

Approximately 1/3 of Mississippi’s population is in poverty. Low income families face many barriers in trying to make a decent life for themselves and their children, and they often need legal assistance to solve their problems. There are only two traditional civil legal aid organizations in Mississippi, and they are limited in the kind of work they can do and the number of people they can help. The Mississippi Center for Justice was created in 2003 to fill in gaps that the legal services organizations cannot address. In furthering our mission to promote racial and economic justice, we work primarily in the areas of access to health care, access to fair and affordable housing, educational opportunity and fair credit. We attack problems in these areas through policy advocacy, litigation, and community outreach. Without us, many Mississippians would have nowhere to turn for their legal challenges.

What will Mississippi Center for Justice’s main focus(es) be in 2017?

In our four main campaign areas, we will continue to assist people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure; attack the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS and represent people who are discriminated against because of their health status; educate Mississippians of their rights under the Fair Housing Act and conduct testing for fair housing; continue to challenge discipline procedures that put children out of school. In addition, we will advocate to protect the safety net in SNAP, Medicaid and TANF on the state and federal levels.

While you struggle against serious challenges in a red state, what is something positive that those of us outside of Mississippi should know about the state or its people?

Mississippians are generous and care for each other. They have a strong sense of family and community, and they never give up.

Thank you Beth for your time and your tireless efforts!

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