By Cianna Hope Reeves,
JSU Student Intern,
After horrific footage of undocumented immigrants housed in cages and children being removed from their families were displayed on multiple media outlets across the nation, legislators, public figures, national and local community organizations called for a change in action. Included in the list of advocates – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a prestigious organization built on leadership and service.
In response to the Call to Action by the national headquarters, Jackson Mississippi Alumnae Chapter (JMAC) held a prayer vigil for adolescents who were stripped from their families as they sought refuge in the United States.
Surrounding Greek chapters, community leaders and citizens of Jackson all gathered at Smith Park in Jackson June 25 to pay tribute to the lives who have been victimized by the Trump administration policy to separate families who are seeking asylum in the country by illegally crossing the border.
Alumnae Chapter President Denise Griffin-Whittington said the organization could no longer sit back and watch America’s immigration crisis unravel; instead, she believed it was crucial to bring awareness within the community about an issue that has directly and indirectly impacted the lives of many.
“We are here to raise the consciousness of our community as we pray for God’s guidance and pray for a resolution that would reunite families as quickly as possible,” expressed Griffin-Whittington.
She continued, “We watched in horror as children were separated from their families and we don’t believe that immigrant families should be receiving the same kind of treatment in the United States as they have received in their home country where they are fleeing persecution and other abuse. Children need their families, children need their parents, and we just believe it is cruel and inhumane to strip children away from their parents.”
Attendees joined hand-in-hand to pray for the city’s leadership, the country’s administration and the immigrants who are being split apart due to merciless policies.
Cheryl Turner, social action chairperson for Jackson Alumnae Chapter, said the immigration stories affected her personally and caused her to help arrange the prayer vigil in the park.
“Being a mother and a grandmother, it was just difficult to watch people not get an idea or feel any amount of passion toward a parent that is trying to make it better for their child – Theta is a service organization charged with speaking truth to power, and giving voice to the voiceless. We took a stand and organized this event,” stated Turner.
Turner hope those who participated will receive insight regarding the immigration catastrophe and understand that exercising their right to vote in support of the ‘Keeping Families Together Act’ will produce change.
“I hope people realize that we control this community through our engagement and our voting. The power of the vote is the one message we hope we can get to people,” she said.
With social action being the premise of the sorority’s foundation, Delta’s Southern Regional Social Action Chair Machelle Kyles was also in attendance to highlight the importance of voting, specifically today, during a time where elected officials are passing life-changing procedures more often.
“This event is directly related to our voice of voting, and our vote demonstrates who we hire in our elected offices, who governs everything, and how our policies are made.”
Kyles believes the power of unity and voting are the key elements to producing a better tomorrow and encourages individuals to not only be more aware but also utilize their freedoms.
“We as a culture, we as the United States of America, we have to exercise our right to vote, we have to understand what is going on. Now, what is happening is strictly a reaction to whom we hired – our commander in chief. That same unified power [blacks] had in the Alabama election with Doug Jones, is the same unified power we could have in this country if we get out and vote,” declared Kyles.