By Mari Payton
June 21, 2004 marks the 40th anniversary of the "Freedom Summer" murders. On this day in 1964, three murdered civil rights workers went missing. In a tribute, the ACLU is working with the Community Advocacy Project in an effort to help local communities.
ACLU volunteers are talking to residents of low-income neighborhoods throughout Mississippi. They're asking residents about pressing problems ... problems such as discrimination, school segregation, and unemployment.
Washington Addition is a community known for its high crime. But residents want to change its reputation and said they want to work together to do so.
Nsombi Lambright, Executive Director of the Mississippi ACLU said, "There are two things. They're either tired of the perception that this is a bad community and they want to help eliminate the perception of this being a bad neighborhood. And two, they want more police visibility here."
Information from the surveys will be used to publish a "Know Your Rights" manual. It will go out to 15,000 families across the state. Local residents are grateful.
One community member, Curtis Easterling, said, "Yes, you get a lot of people blowing smoke but you see people out here doing surveys, I think its great."
Henry Lee Jordan, a longtime resident, said "Maybe some of this crack and dope and stuff would clear the area. The community would pull together and clean up the area community and everything would go well."
One college student came all the way from New Jersey to help the cause. Michael Goldfus said, "If we let people voice their opinions, that's definitely one step in the right direction."
And these volunteers are taking things one step at a time.
Three issues topped the list of community complaints. Those were crime, followed by the problem of abandoned houses. Residents also want to organize more positive activities to get kids off the streets.