The Great Mississippi Road Trip Tours South Mississippi

The Mississippi Center for Justice says it hopes its Great Mississippi Road Trip will send a message to its out-of-town guests.

"We would like our guests to know that our job here is not done yet," says Martha Bergmark, Executive Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice.

A group of lawyers, philanthropists and social justice advocates say they're ready to work toward improving the quality of life in south Mississippi.  They say they would like to help south Mississippi work toward accomplishing goals rooted in equity.

"One of the goals here is not just to restore what was because there were a lot of inequities in what use to exist.  The goal is to build a more equitable society, a more beneficial society to all people," says Barbara Arnwine, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

"Our hope is by recruiting all our friends, we can reach that goal of being the social justice state," says Bergmark.

They say it starts in part with the coast's smallest residents, the children. The tour's first stop was the Moore Community House;  a place that provides childcare for low-income families.

"We feel it (the tour) is not just a look at what's here and what's not but a real opportunity to interact with folks working here," says Bergmark.

Moore House workers told the group how their partnership with the Mississippi Center for Justice helped them appeal a denial from FEMA.  They say the FEMA denied them money for assistance after the storm because childcare was not a public necessity.  It says its partnership with MCJ eventually got them the money.

Ultimately, the Mississippi Center for Justice says it hopes this tour shows its guests the impact that could be made by continuing to work as partners for progress.

"We hope they'll be here for us in the future," says Bergmark.

The tour group was among 400 people who attended MCJ's annual Champions of Justice Dinner Friday night in Jackson.

The group honored Judge Reuben Anderson, the first African-American to attend the University of Mississippi Law School and serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court.

It also recognized Deborah Bell who founded the school's Housing Law Clinic