By Janice K. Neal-Vincent, Ph.D.,
Approximately 250 people flocked to Ineva May-Pittman Park (825 W. Capitol Street, Jackson, Miss.) Monday, January 15, 2023, in honor of the legacy and life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. No matter their identity or background, they came to beautify the park by planting a maple tree in honor of the late Ineva May-Pittman, removing litter, planting flowers, cleaning and sanitizing the pavilion. On the day of service, they also removed the illegal dumping at the Old Atmos Energy Building.
“The ultimate goal is to beautify the area and work to prevent future occurrences,” surmised Executive Director of Keep Jackson Beautiful, Alicia Crudup.
The joint effort of Keep Jackson Beautiful and the Junior League of Jackson is “to ignite the spark for our citizens to be encouraged to clean their communities. Dr. King once said, ‘Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.’ It is all our responsibility to assist with the cleanliness of our capital city. What better way to honor Mrs. Ineva May-Pittman by serving around a park of her namesake. Mrs. Ineva May-Pittman who recently passed in a house fire, was a staple of the community in the City of Jackson and State of Mississippi,” Crudup noted.
Community involvement included the City of Jackson; Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality; Hinds County Board of Supervisors; MDOT Commissioner and staff; elected officials; Jackson Redevelopment Authority; AmeriCorps; Word of Life Church; AMR; Entergy of Mississippi; and Virden Addition Cleanup Crew.
Cleaning enthusiasts reigned with enthusiasm at the event which started at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 12 p.m.
A number commented about the service they rendered. Among them was Frankie Grant and her son, Israel, who moved to Jackson last September from Florida. “Moving here, we heard so many negative things about Jackson… I’m so happy to see people coming together to do the work. If we put on more events like this, others will join in. Somebody has to take the initiative,” said Frankie. “All the hard work pays off. I am really glad to [be here]. I see some beauty in the abandoned buildings,” Israel added.
Word of Life Church members were present. “We’re glad to be here to help clean up the City of Jackson and to represent Dr. King in the way that he served. We do a lot of outreach for the City of Jackson,” said Theresa Mosley.
“It’s vital to do our part here,” commented Paige Kimble of AmeriCorps. She continued, “I’m impressed at how many people came to make the scene more beautiful.”
Andres Reyes-Martinez of AmeriCorps put it this way, “Seeing all the people come together is wonderful because like our ancestors, we have to come together to produce the change we want to see.”
“I feel like every little piece of plastic and metal that I can pick up gives some self-respect. Governor Tate Reeves has not done enough. Our streets still have potholes. We have a huge outpouring of homeless people who mostly stay in the City of Jackson. Everyone wants the same thing that I do, except we need more resources, and we need the State to [do its part]. This is more than just volunteering on MLK Day. This is a statement of the whole in assisting the homeless,” charged former Connecticut resident Heidi Cannon – Entergy who lives in Jackson.
The Nelson family from Madison acknowledged that they were glad to spend the day giving back to the community. Susan, from Madison Central High School claimed, “It’s beautiful to see everyone.” Thristonn of Madison Elementary Station said he was happy to be at May-Pittman Park on his time away from school.
“I’m really impressed, and I’ve always been interested in joining up with this team. People are so careless, throwing paper out everywhere. I got to know Mrs. Ineva May-Pittman as an amazing person. She organized a picketing session in Jackson. She attended the City Council meetings. It’s great to see this concern for our community,” noted Lynn Wade, Jackson resident.
Those of the homeless populace had their say. “This park has been going through a lot. These people are cleaning it up. I’m 61 and retired. A lot of people in this area are going through a transition. Seeing the people from all over rests well with my soul,” said Tony Smith.
Tony Edwards commented, “I’ve been a Jackson resident for 23 years. It’s amazing to see all these people. I’ve asked God to open the doors. I’m a retired, disabled truck driver. I live in the abandoned Gas company building. My wife and baby are in the Fondren. They want me to come home, but I’m on drugs and have to get myself together. Everything happens for a reason. God puts you in a position. Sometimes the guys and women have to leave their families. Most men would like to be with their families. I’m going to get it together.”
College Hill Baptist Church’s Girl and Boy Scout troops packed and distributed to the homeless care packages which contained socks, toiletries, face towels, sanitizers, water, juice, canned goods and a variety of snacks. Their’s is a history of celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday by serving the community.
“Over the years the Girl Scouts along with the Boy Scouts have done clean-up projects to include stopping by senior members of the church and cleaning their homes as well as a deep cleaning of the church inside and out,” said Jackie Hampton, who along with Mary Fisher, serves as Girl Scout troop leader at College Hill.
This is the second year the scouts gave out care packages at Ineva May-Pittman Park. They filled bags at College Hill at 9:30 a.m. Monday containing socks, toiletries, face towels, sanitizers, water, juice, canned goods and a variety of snacks and delivered and distributed them at the park with help from parents and other volunteers. The Boy Scout leader at College Hill is Marcus Franklin.
“I can’t think of a better way to do something to make our city beautiful. People gave their day off to come make our city better, and that’s what works. Love your city, and it will love you back,” stated Liz Brister, vice president of Keep Jackson Beautiful.