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Jackson Water Crisis Drive 23
Press Statement May 9, 2024

NAACP Condemns EPA Title VI Complaint Decision in Jackson Water Crisis, Reaffirms Allegations of Racial Discrimination

Jackson Water Crisis Drive 23

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 9, 2024

Contact: Alicia Mercedes, amercedes@naacpnet.org 

WASHINGTON - This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced findings from an investigation into the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi State Department of Health regarding misuse of federal funds that led to the Jackson Water Crisis. The investigation, which was launched in October of 2022 following a Title VI complaint filed by the NAACP and other advocates, has found "insufficient" evidence of racial discrimination on behalf of the Mississippi State government. The findings have received significant backlash from Jackson residents, who continue to grapple with the ongoing water crisis as state officials focus their efforts on the privatization of Jackson's water system.  

NAACP President & CEO, Derrick Johnson, released the following statement in reaction to this week's news:

"The NAACP is outraged at the inadequate findings presented by the EPA this week. Since day one of this crisis, we have been on the ground, speaking with residents and community leaders. One thing remains clear - racial discrimination and neglect have left a majority Black, capital city in crisis. While it is our hope that state leaders take the necessary steps to enact EPA's recommendations, we know that this fight is far from over. The NAACP remains committed to using every tool at our disposal to ensure that all Black Americans have access to clean drinking water. When elected leaders fail us, it is our community that carries us forward. Together, we will make clean drinking water a reality for all." 

Despite falling short on directly addressing the discrimination and negligence from the state, the EPA acknowledged that "the impacts of the water crisis fell disproportionately on the majority Black community of Jackson." A copy of the EPA's findings can be found here. Key recommendations for MDEQ and MDOH include:

  • Implementation of state-sponsored rigorous needs assessment to ensure that funding is allocated to communities most in-need - regardless of race
  • Assessment of loan terms on large communities such as Jackson 

On August 29, 2022, the largest water treatment plant in Jackson, Mississippi failed, leaving nearly 200,000 majority-Black residents without safe, clean drinking water. Within days, the NAACP was on the ground executing crisis response by providing residents with bottled water, and hearing their concerns. 

Following months of community listening, the NAACP filed a Title VI complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September of 2022. The complaint outlined how years of discriminatory management of federal funding fueled the neglect that allowed Jackson's water infrastructure to crumble. While the boil advisory was lifted months later, many Jackson residents are still grappling with the effects of the crisis. 

To learn more about NAACP's work to secure clean water for all, visit our website. 

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ABOUT NAACP 

The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.

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