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SPLC Mississippi Office Honors Children Impacted by COVID-19 in Jackson’s Capital City Lights Program 

JACKSON, Miss. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will showcase a tree of remembrance at the annual Festival of Lights in downtown Jackson. The tree will honor the nine Mississippi children who have died from the COVID-19 virus. 

A Christmas tree with teddy bears and a letter to Santa on display during Festival of Trees.
Photo courtesy of SPLC Mississippi

The tree, titled “Remember Me,” will bear nine angel wings to represent each child. Visitors to the tree will also see teddy bears that commemorate the lives of the children. One of the bears holds a letter from a child to Santa that asks for just one wish: 

“I wish that the Governor of Mississippi, and all the people around him who make decisions for us, do what is right and protect the children across our state. You know that we children don’t get to make people wear masks and get shots, but we have to suffer when they don’t. We are still scared and very sad that some of our classmates and teachers are no longer here and that some of our friends have lost their parents and family members. We miss them. And, we just want to be safe and free to have a future.” 

The following statement is by Will Bardwell, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center

A Christmas tree with teddy bears and a letter to Santa on display during Festival of Trees.
Photo courtesy of SPLC Mississippi

“This holiday season the SPLC Mississippi office wants to convey a message that puts the health and safety of Mississippi’s children first. Kids are among our most vulnerable population. To date, it has been reported that nine children have died because of COVID-19 related illness.  

“We offer our deepest condolences to the families that have suffered such unimaginable losses. We stand with them and all families who have watched their children suffer and have experienced a range of losses throughout this pandemic while state and local government leaders stood idly by, seemingly paralyzed by indifference. We know that at least some of this suffering could have been avoided with sensible policies that put the health and well-being of children before political pandering.  

“As the virus continues to remain a top national concern, Governor Tate Reeves and other state leaders must take stronger actions to protect our children and prioritize their health and safety while in school.” 

The SPLC wants to hear from families with children who have been affected by COVID-19 due to the state’s failure to act. They are asked to contact SPLC Attorney Will Bardwell at to share their stories.