It has been about two weeks since 20 Harvard grad students stepped off a plane in Jackson, Mississippi. For many (and by many I mean all but two), it was their first time in the state or even the Deep South. Six years earlier I had set foot in Mississippi for the first time as well. Since then, I have adopted Mississippi as my own, and I treasured being with my friends from the Harvard community as they discovered the place Tom and I now call home.
Over the last week, friends from Jackson and Cambridge have asked me about the trip. The answer I’ve settled on is that the week was like getting married again. Every day. For a week. We had such a full schedule. I was completely exhausted by the end. After the fellows left, Tom tucked me in on Friday evening at about 7:30pm.
But I also left the week with a feeling of deep gratitude. That gratitude was for the fellows and their constant enthusiasm for Jackson and its people. That gratitude was for Tom’s family and our friends who went out of their way to help with breakfasts, gift bags, group spaces, and much more. And that gratitude was for all the leaders in Jackson that spent time with our group and shared their passions, their struggles, and their unyielding requests that every single Harvard fellow move to Jackson after they complete their schooling.
It was one of the fullest weeks of my life and one I will not forget. Our wonderfully charismatic photographer, Tom Fitzsimmons, captured the week, and below are some of my favorite images from each stop along the way. Our meetings focused on Mississippi health, education, and racial justice. I hope this is not the last group that Tom (Allin) and I get to share a tour of Jackson with, but I have a feeling it may be one of the most memorable. We remain grateful to everyone involved. Here is a recap of the week in images…
Day #1 Dinner at Parlor Market
Day #2 Driving Tour of Jackson by Tom Allin
Day #2 Lunch at Hal and Mal’s with Malcolm White (MS Development Authority)
Day #2 Clarion Ledger with Jerry Mitchell (Investigative Reporter)
Day #2 Medicaid and Medicaid Expansion with Dr. David Dzielak (MS Division of Medicaid)
Day #3 Education in MS with Rachel Canter (Mississippi First)
Day #3 Education in MS, Part 2 with Babak Mostaghimi (MS Center for Education Innovation)
Day #3 Lunch at Two Sisters Kitchen
Day # 3 Medicaid Expansion with Corey Wiggins (MS Economic Policy Center)
Day #3 Community Development with Bill Bynum (Hope Enterprise Corporation)
Day #4 Mississippi Center for Justice with Beth Orlansky, Courtney Choi, Linda Rigsby, and Paheadra Robinson
Day #4 Barksdale Reading Institute with Michael Cormack and Kelly Butler
Day #4 Mississippi NAACP with Derrick Johnson (President)
Day #4 Human Rights Campaign with Rob Hill and HRC Staff and Supporters
Day #4 Closing Reception at the MS Museum of Art
We had a blast and can’t wait for more experiences to file under the #HarvardinJacksonMS hashtag.