Having grown up with liberal-leaning ideals in Mississippi, I am no stranger to feeling like an outcast when it comes to politics. I have spent a sizable chunk of my life in circular arguments — with people I love, friends, family, even teachers — concerning upcoming elections and current events.
While Mississippi is my home and a beloved refuge for me in many respects, this endless contradiction between my fundamental values and those that my home state espouses troubled me throughout my youth. Thus, when the time came for me to choose which college I would be attending, I looked as far westward as I could and landed at the University of California Santa Barbara in the fall of 2015.
While I fit in better there and found it much easier to find like-minded individuals, Mississippi always tugged at my heart. I was living in California during the 2016 election, and while it was nice to have shoulders to cry on that night, I couldn’t help but to find myself reflecting back on my home…who was there and why they seemed to so obstinately refuse progress at every turn.
After a whirlwind three and a half years on the Pacific Coast, I landed right back home and studying at Millsaps. When I found our Young Democrats of America chapter, I felt for the first time as though that inkling in the back of my mind had been quieted. I felt like I had a way to make a difference — a real, concrete difference. I also felt a wave of relief sweep over me, relief brought about by finding like-minded people here in Jackson who were passionate about sociopolitical matters and dedicated to effecting change in our community.
Being elected officer was both an honor and encouragement, and I have since done my best to educate my peers and spread awareness that progressive ideals are not the communist threats they are oftentimes made out to be in the South.
This year’s presidential election is, needless to say, a pivotal one for America, but the race I have found even more exciting is that for the Mississippi Senate seat between Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy. I think this year we have been successful at bringing more attention to local and state campaigns, whether it be via social media or scheduling events with Mike Espy himself.
We have focused our efforts on spreading awareness about the importance of these campaigns in an environment where the presidential election looms with an all-enveloping shadow. Our members participate in phone banks, poll watching, canvassing, and any other opportunities to promote the Democratic cause that become available. While we are of course hopeful in promoting liberal goals, we aim to be considered as more than a partisan student club.
The Millsaps Young Democrats organization wants to serve as an educational resource for all voters regardless of party affiliation, and I am proud to say that we have taken every step we could toward that ultimate goal. I am honored to serve this chapter, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us and Mississippi in general.