2023 Year In Review

WTJ took multiple issues on this year. But the most important thing we did in 2023 was reorganize to build more power.

WTJ is not an issue-focused organization. We are concerned first and foremost with building power, defined simply as the ability to act. After all, it doesn’t matter what issue you are concerned with if you don’t have the power to change it, or act on it.

What we have done, through our organizing of our people and our money, is create a vehicle in which we come together to take action for the common good. 

So, on April 23, 2023: WTJ held our Refounding Convention and City Wide Assembly.

Our Refounding Convention and City Wide Assembly was attended by more than 500 people from 80 institutions. At this Assembly, two important things happened. 

(1) WTJ institutions recommitted to the work of building power to make change in our community through the practice of broad-based organizing. We announced our institutional dues pledges. The dues we pay represent our investments in our institutions and in our city. 

(2) Additionally, WTJ launched a house meeting campaign aimed at going deeper into institutions to find leaders who want to act on the institutional mission and connect to neighborhoods. To date, more than 300 leaders have attended house meeting training. 

The power created by organizing made all the following possible.

Our troubled water system.

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Working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Environmental Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WTJ hosted house meetings to gather feedback about residents' hopes for Jackson’s water system as we move toward an overhaul of our infrastructure. More than 80 Jacksonians participated in these conversations at the Leaders Luncheon in March.

This collaboration represented a continuation of our work from 2022 when we helped avoid the hostile takeover of the city's water system by the state, making way for the current arrangement with the federal government.

Postpartum Care for Medicaid Recipients and House Bill 1020

During the spring 2023 legislative session, WTJ worked with Working Together Mississippi, our emerging statewide sister organization, to help pass the extension of Medicaid coverage to new mothers from 60 days to a year. This is a huge victory for Mississippi: roughly 65% of the babies born in the state are born to mothers on Medicaid. 

We also partnered with our clergy and Working Together Mississippi to help beat back egregious aspects of the House Bill 1020. 

A Crisis of Trash and Politics

In April of 2023, Jackson plunged into a public health crisis as trash piled up on our streets.  As you recall, this happened because the City Council and the Mayor failed to reach an agreement about who would collect our trash.

WTJ is extremely non-partisan. And while we never endorse any one person or favor one company, WTJ will take a position on issues that matter to Jackson. In this case, after research and deliberation, WTJ deemed it important that we have a functioning government and fair governance process that would put the interests of Jackson residents first. 

So, we mobilized the community to apply pressure on the city council to permit the company that won the blind bid RFP process —and which by this time was the only company able to do the job—to pick up our trash. WTJ turned out approximately 200 leaders to city council meetings in April 2023 and hundreds of calls were made to the council at our urging. Due to the pressure from the court and the community, the immediate emergency was resolved, and trash pick-up resumed. 

GOTV during the Mississippi General Election

Just last month, WTJ set out to contact infrequent voters via a texting campaign in Hinds County. Our goals were to increase Hinds County turnout by engaging the communities surrounding our institutions as well as building energy and relationships across divides. As leaders of our respective communities, WTJ quickly sprang into action. 

Together, we made commitments to contact 10,000 infrequent voters by splitting up 500 voter packets. And we actually surpassed that goal—We dispersed approximately 800 packets, which equals to over 22,000 infrequent voters! 

Workforce Development and Living Wage Employment

This year, we also took critical steps towards establishing the next phase of our work to connect Jackson residents to living wage employment through our Turnaround Jackson second-chance jobs movement. Using the universals we apply here in broad-based organizing, TAJ will enable participants to secure family-sustaining employment and to also develop as community leaders.  This movement targets the unemployed, underemployed as well as returning citizens. We begin training in the spring.

WTJ has a great reputation and track record.

WTJ is becoming stronger and more powerful.

WTJ is growing by leaps and bounds.

WTJ is here to stay.

Will you partner with us and make a one-time or recurring tax-deductible donation so we can keep doing the hard work of building power to rebuild Jackson?

You can learn how to donate on this page.

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