Campaign to Support State and Local Civil Rights Protections

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Why Are These Protections Necessary?

Mississippi is one of few states that has yet to secure civil rights protections for everyone.  There is no law that explicitly protects individuals from discrimination in housing, employment, education, or the use of public accommodations. Federal protections exist for certain people on the basis of race, sex, and other categories, but the coverage is limited for sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, having no state protections makes cases discrimination harder to resolve as they must be processed through federal courts rather than state courts.

The symbolic importance of a Civil Rights Act should also not be overlooked. Across the nation and internationally, Mississippi is known for its shameful history of racial violence and disenfranchisement. Year after year, this state’s legislature chooses policies that benefit only a privileged few. Adopting a state-wide non-discrimination ordinance would go a long way to proving that Mississippi is ready to finally start treating its citizens as equal under the law.

The ACLU of Mississippi has advocated for the Mississippi Civil Rights Act over the last three legislative sessions, which would have granted equal treatment and protection to all Mississippians. Once again, the legislature missed the opportunity to give across the board protections to all Mississippians. Despite another year of obstruction by our government, the WAAM Coalition will continue to fight for the equal and fair treatment for all who live in our state.

The WAAM Campaign at Work

Advancing our work at the state level ensures we're doing everything we can to secure full legal protections for everyone. However, because state protection is not yet available, local ordinances can help protect against discrimination by securing explicit protections - civil rights protections that bar discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, immigration status, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

The WAAM Campaign is working to shift the culture in Mississippi and hold our state accountable to values we hold: respect, equality, and acting with decency towards all Mississippians.

How You Can Help

We know that passing statewide legislation and local ordinances will take persistence and a dogged commitment to our mission. We will not win this fight for inclusive justice and accountability separate and apart.  However, withone voice and one goal, we can extend civil rights protections and reduce the discrimination in our state. We invite you to join the“We Are ALL Mississippi” Campaign! Find us on social media @weareallMS on Instagram and Twitter and on Facebook at We Are All Mississippi.

Download our NDO toolkit below.

You can help end discrimination by working to pass a nondiscrimination law or ordinance that bars discrimination at the state level, to local lawmakers, and even work to get businesses and schools to do the same.  Non-discrimination ordinances sends a strong, clear message that we welcome everyone to every community in Mississippi. 

Together, we can make Mississippi the true “Hospitality State”. 


Local Victories

In May 2016, the “We are ALL Mississippi” coalition decided to take the message of equality for all to the people of Mississippi. As a result, the coalition hosted eight “Community Conversation” Town Hall meetings from the Gulf Coast to North Mississippi. Discussion included the impacts of House Bill 1523, civil liberties, and ways to implement non-discrimination policies locally and at the state level. These community conversations were lively and engaging as people shared concerns about persistent racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia in Mississippi.

In the summer of 2016, the Mayors of three Mississippi cities (Jackson, Natchez, Greenville) joined municipalities across the country in recognizing LGBTQ community members by proclaiming LGBTQ Equality Day. 

Also in 2016, Jackson City Council voted to pass the first non-discrimination ordinancein the state of Mississippi to include protections for all people, including protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In March of 2017, Magnolia, Mississippi became the second city to pass a local non-discrimination ordinance that guaranteed protections for all people. In August 2018, the city Clarksdale passed a city-wide non-discrimination ordinance inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity protections in housing, public accommodations, and employment. Slowly but surely, individual towns and municipalities are moving to make Mississippi a better state for all. 

History of the WAAM Campaign

In the summer of 2015, a team of local leaders began meeting regularly at the ACLU of MS office to develop strategies for the passage of local non-discrimination ordinances and to craft statewide legislation which became the “The Mississippi Civil Rights Act.” This team became the “We Are All Mississippi” (WAAM) Coalition, and now consists of representatives from more than 20 local and grassroots organizations. Working across the board and at all levels of government, the WAAM Coalition advocates for state policies to protect all people from discrimination at work, school, and in housing and public accommodations.

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