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Without Water in Jackson

A severe storm disrupted water access in Jackson. Decades of neglect and inaction are to blame.

About this episode:

It’s been a month since an historic winter storm hit Jackson, Mississippi, leaving tens of thousands of residents without clean water, or without any water at all. Most of those residents were Black. Four weeks later, much of the capital city still has to boil water to drink.

Eighty-two percent of the residents in Jackson are Black and nearly a third live in poverty. Over the past several decades, the city has not had enough money to fix its dilapidated water system.

State lawmakers, whose leadership has always been white, are debating how to address the water crisis before the end of the legislative session in just a few weeks; historically, state leaders have insisted that Jackson’s water problems are the city’s fault, and the city’s to fix.

Many residents, including Jackson’s mayor, say race and racism play a big part in the struggle over the decades-long water crisis in Jackson. If the city were majority-white, they say, this problem would have been fixed a long time ago.

Host Trymaine Lee speaks with West Jackson resident Cassandra Welchlin, executive director of Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable and an advocate for Black women and girls in the state.

And Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba discusses the problem from his vantage point as the man in charge of the water crisis and the chief advocate for more money from the state to fix the crumbling system.

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Find the transcript here.

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