ACLU lobbyist training draws small crowd with loud voices

ACLU lobbyist training draws small crowd with loud voices

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The ACLU's Liberty Lobbyist training program came to Biloxi and gave a special lesson to advocates of change.

The program is designed to show those who wish to be a voice for change how to be more effective and get their messages across to state lawmakers.

Four people came to the session.

"It doesn't concern me because all it takes is one person," said Zakiya Summers with the ACLU Mississippi. "In fact, we hope that folks who do come to the training will take the information they gather today and share that with folks that are around them."

The big lesson: Learn who your legislators are, connect with them and be prepared.

"We can't sit back at home and expect these individuals to do what we want them to do," he said. "We have to let them know what we want them to do and we have to do it in a way that's going to bring the kind of change they want to see."

So far, this is the third training session for this new program that will be taken all over the state.

On this day, teenagers had the floor.

"We are the next generation. We're going to be the next leaders," said Pascagoula High School student Brittney Kenyatta Thomas. "I think that our voice is extremely important and vital to the conversation about anything having to do with our education."

Thomas, a member of the Mississippi Youth Council that supports the teaching of comprehensive sex education, wanted to apply what she learned at the session to help her organization.

"We have to advocate to legislators and talk to them and try to convince them to support us, and so I came here because I want to learn more about how to do that," she said. "I want to be able to connect with them and to be able to see things from our side and why we're advocating for this."

Her classmate, Quinton Harry, has been doing a lot of lobbyist training.

He believes that even a small turnout can make a big difference.

"I don't feel alone," he said. "I know that people are out there. It's just that in Mississippi, it's hard rallying those voices together. Here, we really have to work harder and get those people to show up and grow. But the only way we can do that is for the few of us who do speak out, speak out louder."

The ACLU of Mississippi will have a Legislative Advocacy Day on Jan. 23.

Among the biggest agenda items for this legislative session is to push for a statewide policy for the use of body cameras by police.

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