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It’s okay to not be okay. Almost weekly, since March 2020, I have reminded myself of that truth. The last 18 months have tested both our mental and physical health. But for our nation itself, our democracy and the very concept of truth, have been under assault.

Whether it’s our personal wellbeing or the health of our democracy, we cannot afford to ignore problems when we see them. We cannot grow numb to depression or choose to just “move on” from an armed insurrection at our nation’s capitol.

There is power in acknowledging something is not right. That something is not okay.

I wanted to recognize the difficult road we have and continue to travel. But I want to especially thank the staff and board at ACLU of Mississippi. Like everyone, our team has faced personal trials during the pandemic, but we have also gone to work to carry out our mission to promote, defend, and extend civil rights and civil liberties to all Mississippians.

In short, we have worked to level the road for underserved Mississippians while trying to stay healthy, taking care of our loved ones, and maintaining a sense of hope as political leaders embrace authoritarianism and bigotry.

The responsibility the ACLU of Mississippi carries means that we must be deliberate in our work. Through 2021 our team and board members have taken on the methodical task of developing a strategic plan that will guide our efforts through 2025. We have prioritized securing and expanding voting rights, protecting the most vulnerable Mississippians, and holding our state government accountable through advocacy and litigation.

As we carry out our agenda, we are working to build a stronger fiscal foundation. In 2021, our affiliate was awarded over $1 million in grants from 5 different foundations (not including ACLU National).

Further, our team worked with an outside firm and our national office to complete a review of our fundraising capacity and implement a new development plan. Both of these steps are part of our effort to ensure we have the organizational endurance to continue meeting our mission even when faced with changing circumstances.

Increasing our overall capacity has allowed us to bring in exceptional people to our advocacy, legal, and communications teams. As a result, we were able to launch the LGBTQ Justice project to extend greater legal resources to LGBTQ identifying people in issues related to family law, civil rights, consumer law, housing, and employment discrimination.

The ACLU of Mississippi is leading a coalition of advocacy organizations to build a statewide civic engagement infrastructure that will organize, educate and engage Mississippi voters and young people. As Rev. William Barber would put it: Mississippi isn’t a red or blue state. Mississippi is an unorganized state.

We are standing up to voter suppression. Ahead of the 2020 election, the ACLU of Mississippi and our legal partners successfully fought to allow voters at risk to COVID to cast absentee ballots.

Moving forward, our team is pushing for fair redistricting maps that will increase or maintain black voting strength.

We have much more to do. We continue to need your support. Most importantly, Mississippi needs you to continue to speak up and actively acknowledge when something is not okay.