Mississippi Rising

The future of this country is bound to the future of Mississippi. This story provides a glimpse of the systemic and generational impacts of racism and how vital investment in education is to all residents —  and to the entire state’s economy. We see this all through the eyes of organizer Albert Sykes, his 11-year-old son Aidan, mothers in Jackson Public Schools, a mayor, a school board member, and tireless advocates. Part history, part vignette, and full of humanity, Mississippi Rising begins to connect the dots of who needs to be engaged to identify, understand, and create a bright future for Mississippi that involves the entire community.

The release of this video is timely. On September 14th of this year, the Mississippi State Board of Education recommended a state takeover of Jackson Public Schools. Governor Phil Bryant is considering the recommendation while many of Jackson’s students, families, faith, and business leaders — along with the Mayor of Jackson and several school board members — believe they should be the ones to determine the future of Jackson Public Schools. They are asking the Governor to support local governance. Commenting on the Governor’s decision, says Albert Sykes, the Executive Director of IDEA, “The Governor – and even the State Board – may have the right concern, but a takeover of JPS is clearly the wrong policy.”

Mississippi Rising is a 180 production co-directed by Rob English and Sam Chaltain.


  • #myJPS is a video featuring the student voices naming the future they want for Jackson Public Schools.
  • #OurJPS is the group leading local organizing efforts on the ground.
  • Must read: State takeovers of low-performing schools – a 2016 report from the Center for Popular Democracy examines the record of state takeovers of districts in three other states.
  • Additional background on the takeover being considered in Jackson and a petition that was created to stop the takeover by JPS School Board Member Jed Oppenheim –  who is shown in Mississippi Rising.
  • Learn more about the Algebra Project.
  • Implicit bias doesn’t just play out in classrooms. The schools, states, and districts where a “takeover” approach to school change has been deployed are disproportionately attended by students of color. Here’s a podcast from the Communities for Just Schools Fund on implicit bias.
  • Register for this October 25th webinar to learn more about effective organizing for strong racially just public schools and communities.

Tweet it: State takeovers haven’t worked for students, staff, or communities in the past. Support students by supporting local governance of district public schools. Watch Mississippi Rising featuring @OurJPS https://futureforlearning.org/mississippi-rising #FutureforLearning

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