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Learning the Art and Science of Organizing: Brooke Floyd Completes National Fellowship

JACKSON, Miss.—As an eighth-grade Chastain Middle School student, Brooke Floyd sat in the living room of her mother’s teaching colleague. The ladies, who taught on the same team at Brinkley Middle School, had finished lesson-planning and moved on to discussing the current state of education: mainly then-Gov. Kirk Fordice’s public announcement that he would not support fully funding public education.

“I think I should put a protest together,” Floyd told them, speaking up.

The adults looked at her incredulously, not truly believing that the teenager was serious.

“Well, I think if the kids show up, it’ll be different,” Floyd continued. “If we get the kids there to do this, it’s gonna it’s a—it might be a bigger deal.”

The next day, Floyd went to her middle school and gathered a group of friends to participate. She used the phone book to contact the counselors in the Jackson Public School District, soliciting the help of those schools’ student-government presidents. The group decided to hold the protest on the steps of the Mississippi Capitol.

Floyd created a protest agenda with the help of the Mississippi Association of Educators president. With everything arranged, she sent notice to the local news stations.

On the day of the protest, students gathered at the foot of the steps of the Capitol after the school day ended. They carried signs with slogans like “Fordice Gambles with our Education” and “Fund our Future.” SGA presidents from Murrah and Forest Hill spoke to the more than 200 students gathered. Students in cheerleader uniforms shook pom poms, and the drumline from another high school provided music between the chants of “We want money for education, and we want it now!”

Brooke Floyd, coordinator of the Jackson People’s Assembly at the People’s Advocacy Institute in Jackson, Miss., has nurtured a heart for activism since she organized her first protest as a middle-school student. As an adult, she has worked for nonprofits who endeavor to serve their communities. Photo courtesy Brooke Floyd

Floyd remembers thinking that afternoon that what she and her peers were doing was important and that they all knew

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