This past Thursday, former President Clinton appeared with Mississippi first district Congressman Travis Childers in the Grove at the University of Mississippi. The two spoke about the importance in voting in the upcoming election and the issues which would most affect university-age students.
While people came out in droves just to see the former president speak and show their support for Congressman Childers, there was a group present with another motivation.
Dozens of university students and Oxford residents showed up with signs to push Clinton and Childers to act. Advocates of everything from health care reform and education to the war in Afghanistan showed up with signs in hand to get their platforms recognized.
A group of Oxford residents held signs and handed out flyers to bring awareness to the Scott Sisters.
Jamie and Gladys Scott were convicted and sentenced to double-life sentences in 1994 for a robbery during which no injuries occurred, and the perpetrators stole only $11.
The group supports the sisters’ claims of complete innocence to the crime, and is trying to bring awareness to their case in hopes of securing the sisters’ freedom.
Oxford resident Betsy Chapman said she felt compelled to do something once she found out about the injustice of the case. “This case is an embarrassment to the state of Mississippi. I’m a native Mississippian, and I don’t want to be ashamed of my state, I’m tired of Mississippi being known for things like this instead of the good things,” Chapman said.
Two Ole Miss students with fluorescent signs were out to bring attention to the anti-war movement. Taylor Cook, a sophomore international studies major, and a friend made signs advocating peace with slogans such as “Make Out, Not War.”
“I was definitely coming to see Bill Clinton, but I thought it would be a good time to support an anti-war movement. It feels wrong to go against the war, but you can be against the war but pro-soldier,” Cook said.
The Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA) was present with a group of about half-a-dozen students who want to bring awareness to immigrant rights. Lily Axelrod, the North Mississippi organizer for MIRA, and her group made bilingual signs with slogans such as “No More Racial Profiling, Separating Families, Exploiting Workers, ¡Ya Basta! (Enough already!)”
Some activists took a more ostentatious approach. An unidentified person was walking around in a full clown costume and makeup. When asked what issue he was concerned about, he said, “I’m just a concerned clown.”
His sign read “Travis Childers is a Tax and Spend Clown,” but he said Childers’ economic and tax policies weren’t his main concern.
It seems that for some people, Clinton’s message to get involved in the political process was already a part of their lives.