Mississippi Today, in partnership with The Atlantic, is pleased to announce the State of Our Union: Mississippi, a day-long summit focusing on big issues, solution-makers and thought leaders. The November 30 event, made possible through support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at The Faulkner in downtown Jackson, and will convene local leaders, policy makers, and journalists to highlight the regional issues influencing the national dialogue—including criminal-justice reform, K–12 education, the maternal-health crisis, climate change in the Deep South, and more.

“The State of Our Union is going to be a terrific day in Mississippi for civic dialog,” said Mary Margaret White, CEO of Mississippi Today. “We are proud to be the first ever local newsroom to partner with The Atlantic for a live event. We’ve brought together a line-up of local and regional leaders and journalists, alongside some tremendous national figures to discuss what’s working in Mississippi, and where we have room to grow.”

The State of Our Union will feature some of the South’s greatest minds in journalism, literature, politics and advocacy. In multiple plenary and breakout sessions on Thursday, November 30, these guests will discuss timely and pressing topics facing Mississippi, the South, and the nation as a whole. The program is meant, in part, to elevate the critical local journalism happening across our state and the region, and will also include prominent national voices in media, literature and politics to start meaningful conversations and hopefully inspire deep contemplation about our state and region’s present and future.

“What we hope people take away from this event is that change is possible, compromise is possible, progress is possible, a brighter future is possible,” said Evan Smith, senior advisor to the Emerson Collective and co-founder of the Texas Tribune who advised planning of the Mississippi event. “It all starts with talking and listening to your friends and neighbors — and depends on you being the best civic version of yourself.”

Registration for the in-person event is free, but space is limited. Virtual registration is available and will provide a livestream of the day’s events. To register or learn more about the program visit the State of Our Union website.

The day-long program will conclude with a ticketed event, A Night with the Newsroom, at the Two Mississippi Museums from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Join the Mississippi Today team and featured speakers for drinks, heavy hors d’oeuvres and entertainment by blues legend Jesse Robinson. Tickets are available here, and a young professional’s rate is available to those ages 35 and under. All proceeds directly support the mission-driven journalism at Mississippi Today.

View our just-launched agenda:

10 a.m.

  • Welcome Remarks with The Atlantic and Mississippi Today
  • State of Our State with Delbert Hosemann, Lieutenant Governor, Mississippi and Adam Ganucheau, editor in chief, Mississippi Today
  • The Big Story: Mississippi’s Welfare Scandal with Anna Wolfe, investigative reporter, Mississippi Today
  • National Politics With a Southern Flavor with Elise Jordan, political analyst, NBC News and MSNBC; Errin Haines, editor at large, The 19th; Eddie Glaude, professor, Department of African American Studies, Princeton University; Evan Smith, contributor, The Atlantic and senior advisor, Emerson Collective

12 p.m.

  • Lunch

1:15 p.m. – Breakout Sessions

  • Mothering in Mississippi: The State of Maternal Health, Access, and Outcomes, and the Path Forward, with Getty Israel, founder and CEO, Sisters in Birth; Dr. Justin Turner, chief medical officer, Mississippi Department of Health; Dr. Michelle Owens, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, Ascension; Kate Royals, community health editor, Mississippi Today
  • Reimagining K–12 Education, with Sanford Johnson, executive director, Teach Plus Mississippi; Kelly Butler, senior advisor, ReadingUniverse.org; Erica Jones, president, Mississippi Association of Educators; Adam Harris, staff writer, The Atlantic
  • Investigating Mississippi’s Most Powerful Position, the Sheriff, with Ilyssa Daly, reporter fellow, The New York Times; Brian Howey and Nate Rosenfield, investigative reporting fellows, Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting; Jerry Mitchell, founder, Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting at Mississippi Today; Dean Baquet, Executive Editor, Local Investigations Fellowship, The New York Times

2:15 p.m.

  • Climate Change and Environmental Justice in the Deep South, with Catherine Coleman Flowers, Founding Director, Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice and Vann R. Newkirk II, senior editor, The Atlantic
  • The New Deep South, with writer Kiese Laymon; professor, UNC Chapel Hill, and columnist, The New York Times Tressie McMillan Cottom; Terry Baquet, editor in chief, Verite News

4 p.m.

  • End of Programming

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