“When you’re in Mississippi, the rest of America doesn’t seem real. And when you’re in the rest of America, Mississippi doesn’t seem real.” –Robert “Bob” Moses – Co-Director – Council of Federated Organizations (COFO)
This quote is part of a video recently submitted by the College of Liberal Arts at Jackson State University called, “Looking @ Democracy”. It’s a national competition that offers a total of $100,000 in prize money for short media pieces that focus on democracy. The video begins with an excerpt from NBC’s Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” skit with SNL’s Seth Meyers and comedian Kevin Hart poking fun at how Mississippi was among the last of several states with racist pasts to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965:
Seth Meyers: And that’s why the Voting Rights Act covers all of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Kevin Hart: And it should! Because let me tell you something, Seth. I wouldn’t go outside after dark in half of those states. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t go outside if it was cloudy in Mississippi! Really, I wouldn’t do it.
Seth Meyers: And look, we don’t mean to be hard on you, Mississippi, but you just ratified the amendment abolishing slavery two weeks ago. Not only did Mississippi wait 150 years after Lincoln, they waited six months after “Lincoln, the movie!, I mean, really!
Kevin Hart: Really!
The video continues, set to the sounds of an original rap song called “New Jim Crow,” by hip-hop artist and community activist Jason Thompson, aka Pyinfamous, and begins with a quote from Mississippi civil rights leader and SNCC founder Bob Moses. In 1962 Moses also co-founded COFO, a coalition of the major civil rights movement organizations operating in Mississippi, which is now operated by Jackson State as The COFO Civil Rights Education Center. The multifaceted operation is located within the JSU community, and reaches out to a new generation to educate, engage and empower the masses. The video addresses the perception of voter apathy among young people and then briefly highlights a grass roots student-run voter registration campaign, and takes a look at the important role the Margaret Walker Alexander Center has in fostering democracy. The video ends with a sample of the celebration of the rich culture and diversity of International Week, just a few of the many collaborations by Jackson State that strengthen and celebrate the freedom to engage in democracy.
The Looking @ Democracy video will be judged by professionals later this month. The deadline for the $5,000 Popular Choice Awards is May 15th, but there’s still time for you to vote! You can help Jackson State University win in 3 easy steps:
1. Click here to see the video.
2. Click the VOTE button
3. Enter your name, email address, and password (this password is used to give you access to follow the progress of the competition.
The video was spearheaded by Keith McMillian, Project Coordinator of the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute in partnership with the Margaret Walker Alexander Center and History Department, The COFO Civil Rights Education Center, Gallery1, Good As Gold Enterprise (GAGE), The Political Science Department and the Mass Communications Department.