In 2015, MBLI alumnus Scott Colom was elected to serve as District Attorney for the 16th District ousting a 26-year incumbent whose tenure resulted in several wrongful convictions and an explosion in the prison population.
Tyler Edmunds, tried as an adult at the age of 13 for allegedly helping his sister kill her husband, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole. The MS Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2007 because of a faulty report provided by the state medical examiner. The then DA, Forrest Allgood, tried Tyler again in 2008, but was acquitted of all charges.
“If we had a different district attorney, the investigation would’ve been more thorough. As D.A., it is your job to get it right, ” Edmonds, now 19, said in an interview about the race between Scott Colom and Forrest Allgood.
MBLI is a community of scholars, business leaders, elected officials, and community organizers who promote an agenda of leadership development to achieve equity and justice for vulnerable and marginalized Mississippians whose voices and values are often underrepresented. The MBLI achieves its goals through three focus areas.
An invitational institute for emerging leaders from various disciplines across the state of Mississippi, who participate in a nine-month curriculum of civic engagement, public policy and governance, state history, and relationship development. It is an effort to prepare and produce a cadre of informed, socially conscious transformative leaders and public servants. Graduates of The Leadership Institute will help to advance, advocate and articulate an agenda of equity in their respective communities.
The Public Policy Development arm is a community where scholarly research and public policy are reviewed, and an agenda is developed and published annually through a think tank comprised of educators, public servants, business leaders, social scientists, and community organizers. Each annual report will serve as an agenda for legislative and social action. The strength of the MBLI Public Policy component is to frame the agenda/platform for current and future public servants, ensuring they understand, speak for, and best represent the needs of their constituencies.
Still in the development phase is a summer initiative that identifies fifty 9-12 graders in an effort to expose them to the world of public service and political processes. The Youth Leadership Initiative will be held at the Bennie G. Thompson Academic and Civil Rights Building on the campus of Tougaloo College. The summer initiative consists of an advanced reading list, a lecture series, panel discussions, a collaborative community service project, engagement with issue campaigns, and civil rights indoctrination. It is the goal of MBLI that graduates of the Youth Leadership Initiative will receive scholarships to Tougaloo College to study Public Policy (a future interdisciplinary degree offered through the Bennie G. Thompson School of Public Policy).
The Institute is the brainchild of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, who is committed to developing community and political leaders from progressive communities across the state. The Institute offers a professional leadership development course, which is facilitated by One Voice Mississippi, Inc. The Congressman believes that a collective vision can be achieved by preparing emerging leaders united through a common bond of unity, excellence, and a commitment to transform Mississippi.
The Institute takes place over 9 monthly weekend sessions beginning in August, typically Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. Lodging and meals are provided. Participation in each of the monthly gatherings is mandatory, and participants must receive permission from their employer to meet at all of the sessions in their entirety. The program includes a community service component, required readings, field trips, and interactive sessions with local and national experts, on topics such as local history, ethical decision-making, governance, policy, law, politics, technology, and building successful collaborations.
If you would like to be considered for membership, or if you know an emerging leader who would be an ideal candidate for the Institute, please contact us at MBLI@uniteonevoice.org. Applications must be received on or before June 10, 2016. Participants who have been selected will begin the program Thursday – Friday, August 11 – 12, 2016, at the Congressional Black Caucus Institute Tunica Policy Conference and will have access to the entire weekend (August 11-13, 2016) of CBCI activities. We look forward to receiving your application.