Jackson activist Maisie Brown says city still needs clean water

The Jackson State junior provides an update on Mississippi capital’s clean water crisis

Maisie Brown, a junior at Jackson State University, works with the IDEA Institute for Democratic Education in America, 601 for Period Equity and the ACLU of Mississippi.

When national news shines on Mississippi, the young activist has become a go-to voice for the Deep South state. Recently, she discussed the clean water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, and the alleged welfare theft pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre has committed.

How do you shoulder the responsibility of representing your hometown on a national level?

It’s hard. I didn’t necessarily ask for that title or influence, so it could definitely be overwhelming at times when I had to teach myself I don’t have to have an opinion about everything. I don’t have to speak on everything that goes on. Now, I’ve learned how to delegate, pick and choose how much energy I put into each issue. Because if I were to put all my energy into every single issue that Mississippi had, I would have no energy at the end of the day.

With the Brett Favre welfare theft accusation. What was your reaction to that news?

First of all, we have seen Black political leaders or elected officials automatically get arrested and go to jail for stealing way smaller amounts of money. This was millions of dollars from the federal government. So it’s already a federal crime right now. … Stealing [money] from the most vulnerable population in the state for something as trivial as a volleyball or a football facility to recruit a quarterback [is terrible]. The fact he was even given the option to pay it back is already a red flag. It’s not about getting that money back. We’re not focused on that. You need to go to jail. That’s embezzlement. You stole. We’ve seen Black football players crucified, canceled and off the grid for years for things much less serious than stealing millions of dollars from Mississippi’s poorest residents. The fact [that] criminal charges haven’t already been presented [is concerning] and I’m not sure if he’s lawyering up, but this should be a criminal investigation. Money was stolen.

What is the update on the water situation in Jackson?

We were under a boil water notice for about six weeks. The Department of Health lifted it, but it seems like we’re backsliding. We’ve had a lot of water main breaks over the past week or so. A school closed and went back [to] virtual [classes] for a couple of days because the water pressure was so low.

I have friends and family whose water is back to being brown or the water pressure is again very low. It’s like what I told everyone was going to happen. They’re going to tell us everything is normal, everything is going to be good and then in a couple of weeks, streets in neighborhoods are going to go right back to boiling water, and that’s exactly what happened.

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