JACKSON, MS. — A LETTER FROM MAE PRESIDENT JOYCE HELMICK
April 4, 2018
On this, one of the most somber anniversaries in our nation’s history, I wanted to reach out to you with a word of hope. America lost a great leader when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. But we didn’t lose the echoes of his voice, the hope of his vision, or the demonstration of his peaceful strength in the face of powerful people with bad intentions.
I saw that strength and vision in the way Mississippi educators, students, parents, and advocates worked together during the past Legislative session to kill measures that were bound to devastate our public education system. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, good prevailed.
It is not lost on me that the Rev. Dr. King was in Memphis for the purpose of standing in solidarity with the striking sanitation workers, who for years had been working in deplorable conditions, were woefully underpaid, and mistreated while they were faithfully carrying out very important duties.
Today, we see our fellow educators on strikes around the country asking for decent working conditions, pay commiserate with the importance of their jobs, and the opportunity for their students to achieve the vision of an excellent education.
We have hope today. We have hope that we will continue to link our arms together and stand together to make sure every student in Mississippi can receive an excellent public education. We have hope that we will continue to raise our voices in solidarity to demand that our schools be fully funded because our students deserve no less than clean, modern, safe schools and resources. And, we have hope that we will have the strength to demand pay commiserate with the importance of our jobs as educators.
As Dr. King said, “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.”