Close this search box.
Michael Jenkins at a press conference about injuries allegedly from a Rankin County deputy sheriff
“We value life when we don’t turn the other way as police officers abuse their power and torment Black men for the hell of it,” Ashton Pittman writes. Michael Jenkins, seen right next to his mother at a February 2023 press conference, alleged Rankin County law-enforcement officers tortured him and Parker for hours in January 2023. Six officers have pleaded guilty to charges in the case. Photo by Kayode Crown

At The Mississippi Free Press, Our Reporting Values Life

It’s been hard not to notice the rise in COVID-19 cases lately. And while few are expressing the alarm of past waves, some politicians on upcoming ballots are trying to channel the anti-public health fervor of 2020 and 2021 into votes this fall.

“Let me say it again – there will be no mask mandates, COVID vaccine mandates, or lockdowns in Mississippi,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, up for reelection on Nov. 7, tweeted on Sept. 6—perhaps latching onto baseless conspiracy theories that have spread on social media.

The defiant posture against a perceived threat that doesn’t seem to exist comes amid an unfolding health-care crisis with several hospitals closing or cutting services as dozens teeter on the brink.

Even so, state leaders like Reeves continue touting their “pro-life” bonafides and anti-abortion views after Mississippi banned nearly all abortions. But despite decades of “pro-life” rhetoric from leaders of both major parties, including Reeves’ Democratic opponent Brandon Presley, Mississippi remains the state where infants are most likely to die during the first year of life.

NBC News reported on Sept. 7 that national GOP strategists are considering ditching “pro-life” in favor of a different phrase as public opinion of the term has soured in the wake of the Dobbs decision—with Republicans pinpointing the problem as language rather than policies.

Political operatives will do what they do, but we at the Mississippi Free Press are devoted to journalism that intrinsically values the lives of all our state’s people.

We value life when we ask why incarcerated people continue to die in Mississippi’s prisons or wait for months behind bars for mental health evaluations.

We value life when we interrogate the systems of racism that produce grossly unequal outcomes and continue to wreck lives.

We value life when we look past politicians touting “pro-life” accomplishments to the twin tap-dancing elephants in the room of infant and maternal mortality.

We value life when we take public-health issues seriously.

We value life when we highlight the lived experiences and struggles of marginalized and underrepresented people.

We value life when we examine whether children have equitable access to a good education.

We value life when we apply the lessons of history to the problems of today.

We value life when we don’t turn the other way as police officers abuse their power and torment Black men for the hell of it.

We value life when we raise the alarm leading to national media attention about a city where people are used to going without clean, running water for weeks on end.

We value life when we uplift the achievements and accomplishments of Mississippians—the art they produce, the local businesses they grow and the families they raise.

That’s why we work hard to interrogate systems of inequality, investigate and report deeply on the issues facing our people and offer solutions that can make life better for Mississippians—concerns about people and lives that should not be partisan wedge issues. We already have a wonderful team of reporters doing this work—including Heather Harrison, Torsheta Jackson, Nick Judin, Shaunicy Muhammad, Kiden-Aloyse Smith and Aliyah Veal—and with your support, you can increase our impact even more.

Please help us grow this team and our capacity for more life-affirming reporting by donating at

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

The Mississippi Free Press is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) focused on telling stories that center all Mississippians.

With your gift, we can do even more important stories like this one.