I also look straight down at City Hall, and can even see (with my binoculars) who comes in and out the front door. It is in that building that the city council—with five black members and two white—have helped build Jackson into a sanctuary for so many people. They've voted against racial profiling and immigrant witch hunts, and this last year, they stayed way into the night to come out emotionally and unanimously against the anti-gay House Bill 1523, just down the street from the Governor's Mansion and the state capitol where it was born.
When people in states far more "blue" than Mississippi ask me how I can live here, I just look at them with a bit of pity because they don't get it. Jackson is a progressive city, one held together by love and determination and a welcoming spirit and the kinds of faith that unite rather than divide. We have challenges, no doubt, but there is nothing like thousands of people getting up every day with the fire in their bellies to make it an even better place to live.
I've lived places where people are complacent about their forward-thinking beliefs and believe nothing ugly is likely to touch them because they're hidden from it. Here, where I am watching the new civil rights museum rise behind the Old Capitol where the state voted to secede due to slavery, we know that reality and freedom involve struggle. We're used to it, and we're surrounded by loving people who will get our backs even when we feel beaten down by the weight of the world.
In fact, I've never lived anywhere where I feel more love more often. Most people here appreciate other people fighting the good fight to lift up the city, and state, and each other, and they often tell each other how much they care. Or, they just hug your neck. Don't bother to resist; hugs cure all.
Jackson has helped me stay in the moment, to feel like my work matters every day. I've long liked to say that you can make a difference here by showing up—whether at New Stage for an unflinching play or one of our increasingly amazing local restaurants to support the folks who work just as hard as you do for the city.
One of our power couples this issue (see page 41) talked about the power of Jackson to heal divides: "[W]e have a wonderful life here, and we surrounded ourselves with a great community in Jackson," Michael Dorado says of his life with his husband, Aaron Polk.
Still, Jackson, and Mississippi, aren't for everyone. It's an intense life here because our state was born in intensity and struggle, and some people want a more numbing life than we can allow here. That is also why Jacksonians seldom give up; we pick each other up when we fall, and we laugh despite the challenges, and we love like a bat that just escaped hell.
This city gives back in the most powerful way if you allow it to, and it's a haven for being as loving as you want to be. The people here will love you back; if one doesn't, the next two will. It's hard for a city to get much better than that.