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Mississippians react to VP’s first visit

Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Public Relations Specialist Everett Chinn displays a banner to welcome Vice President Kamala Harris. PHOTO BY Jackie Hampton

By Gail HM Brown, Ph.D.,

Contributing author ,

Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Public Relations Specialist Everett Chinn displays a banner to welcome Vice President Kamala Harris. PHOTO BY Jackie Hampton

Excitement buzzed in the town of Greenville, Mississippi, early Friday, April 1, over the expected arrival of the first African American and first female vice president of the United States.

The Mississippi Link was honored to be an invited representative of the Black Press media to provide coverage of the historic event,” said editor Jackie Hampton. Hampton is also an officer of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) aka Black Press.

Before Harris arrived at the city’s EE Bass Cultural Center, 323 S. Main Street, Excited groups and individuals, gathered outside the United States Secret Service (USSS) secure area with welcome signs.

Among them were officials and leaders of the Greenville Public Schools, whose building is across from the cultural center. Superintendent Debra Dace said The Mississippi Link“Yes, we are very honored to have our Vice President Harris visiting our small town of Greenville.”

“And, we’re just thrilled. Although she is not visiting schools today, we will have the opportunity to see her and hear about the support she will be providing to small businesses, as small businesses all help support the school district. So just hearing about the opportunities our businesses will have is just as exciting for the school district because it means we’ll have a lot more support…. »

Dace shared that GPSD is one of the first school districts to partner with a four-year college for an early college entrance program.

Also outside the safe area carrying welcome banners were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. who were about to greet their internationally renowned sorority sister. They declined comments without their chapter president present.

Here are various reactions and excerpts from other people’s reactions before and after the event:

“This [the VP’s visit] means a lot. As commissioner, I know that the president, with all of his executive orders, … has often talked about the communities that are being left behind: poor communities, rural communities, and communities of color. It is suitable for all categories. As Transport Commissioner, I am fighting to get funding for the infrastructure system to add to what we are already doing. – Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons (On the steps of EE Bass)

The Mississippi Link also asked Simmons for his opinion on whether the SBA EIDL and accompanying grants should be reinstated for the many small business owners who may not have known or had no time to ‘access it before the deadline of December 31, 2021. Simons replied

“Of course, there are these small businesses that were trying to come back, but they ran out of juice…because the funds are no longer there. They need another reminder. Just like we need another booster for the virus, these companies need another booster to survive and survive inflation. As food prices and everything go up, they’re in trouble. Some businesses still have to pay rent when they have no revenue… So all of these things affect small businesses.

Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Debra Day pauses for a photo outside the school district office across from the EE Bass Cultural Center where Vice President Harris spoke. PHOTO BY Jackie Hampton

Mississippians from virtually every walk of life were invited and allowed to attend the historic event.

Here’s what a Delta native and key member of the state’s ecumenical community had to say:

“I’ll tell you right now. I don’t think there is any question about it. It is extraordinarily encouraging and motivating for all of us who are part of this region. No question.” – Dr. Jerry Young, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Jackson and president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

After the event, Sen. Derrick Simmons reacted to his twin brother, Mayor Errick Simmons’ welcoming of the vice president’s first visit to the state of Mississippi.

“I’m extremely excited about this. I’m so proud of him, and so is my mom. She’s also extremely excited about the historic times in the town of Greenville… My dad, who passed away many years ago, would be so, so proud and happy to see Vice President Harris come to Greenville, and especially under Errick’s administration. From a legislative point of view. Senator Simmons said he would like to see the Legislature “take federal dollars and, at the state level, determine how we can improve or create programs so that those federal dollars can reach small businesses. We need to put programs in place at the state level. I will be eager to do so. – Senator Derrick Simmons (MS, D-12).

Jim Hood, former Mississippi Attorney General for 16 years, shared this reaction: “I knew Vice President Harris while we were AG together. He is a caring soul who cares about people. She, Bo Biden and I all served. This way I got to know [the now] President Biden, and they both care from the bottom of people’s hearts, especially people who just need a little help. I’m so honored that she came here, and I’m happy to come visit her and see her for a minute.

Hood currently practices law in Chickasaw County.

Among the chatter on the sidewalk in front of the center was the voice of longtime state legislator and history maker Senator David Lee Jordan: “I hope Greenville can become an oasis. The fact that the Vice President of the United States, who happens to be an African-American woman, chose a Mississippi Delta town of Greenville over Jackson speaks volumes because that’s where the money is really necessary. I think we have a good friend in the White House, and we have a black vice president on her first trip to the Mississippi Delta, which is great.

Also at the event were Beulah and Leslie Greer, founders of the nonprofit, Community Students Learning Center (CSLC), Lexington, Miss. Beulah Greer said, “The Vice President’s visit on Friday is another shining example of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to providing small businesses with what they need to start and grow. As I sat in the audience thinking about the fact that CSLC is a hub for one of the administration’s SBA Community Navigator Pilot Projects (CNPPs), I felt humbled and thrilled that we were already doing part of his boots in the field to help small businesses become what Vice President Harris has called “agents of economic prosperity.” We are so grateful and honored that our Community Browser Pilot has been invited to attend.

Greeville First Lady Dr Temika Simmons, a native of Jackson, said The Mississippi Link“For Greenville, today is an incredible opportunity to be able to show the care that the Biden-Harris administration is giving to small businesses and across Mississippi… Most importantly, we have the mayor being the first black male mayor and then this first black vice president being here in the Mississippi Delta, where the Emmett Till measure just passed. That’s important and signals where the country is going. But more so, it’s potential, if we continue to work together with people of all talents of all races, from all walks of life to move the nation forward.