Gulfport MS lawmaker Sonya Williams Barnes gets job with SPLC


Rep. Sonya Williams Barnes is often reachable.

Regardless of whether she’s supporting grieving households at her Gulfport funeral house or taking cell phone calls from constituents at 2 a.m., the point out legislator prides herself on currently being accessible for her group.

“I know practically nothing but a lifetime of company,” Williams Barnes, the daughter of two school lecturers and United Methodist preachers, explained to the Sunlight Herald on Monday.

And just after a 10 years as an elected official, the Mississippi Coastline girl will resign from her publish and take on a new purpose as state plan director for Southern Poverty Regulation Heart, an Alabama-centered nonprofit that battles racial and social injustice in the Deep South.

Williams Barnes will resign from her Household District 119 seat on Sunday and commence her new career the upcoming working day, May possibly 9.

“There’s no crack,” she stated. “The require is there, and my service continues.”

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Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport, needs colleagues to ‘wise up and roll back discriminatory laws.’ ROGELIO V. SOLIS Involved Press

Supporting alter the Mississippi condition flag

Williams Barnes was elected into the Condition Home seat in 2011, and commenced serving in the job in 2012. She’s served in 11 standard Legislative sessions. The Democrat’s district serves generally minority neighborhoods in just Gulfport’s city limitations.

Some of Williams Barnes’ proudest achievements in her time as a lawmaker require getting a voice for people in underserved communities.

As chair the the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, she led the most significant legislative boycotts in history contacting to modify Mississippi’s point out flag. She labored on a bill that permitted incarcerated women to have access to sanitary goods and banned restraints through labor and although offering delivery. She also fought for voter restoration and voting rights protections throughout the point out.

“During this tenure we have experienced some successes, we fought to transform the condition flag, we voted to shield lots of of Mississippi’s most susceptible citizens, and our attempts continue in fighting to create superior educational alternatives and outcomes for Mississippi’s youth,” Williams Barnes mentioned in a news launch.

“The Legislature has generally authorized me the option to do all of these points, and this same form of do the job goes hand in hand to the perform that the Southern Poverty Regulation Center does.”

Williams Barnes has shaped interactions with lawmakers throughout get together traces all over the condition to get items carried out for her district in Gulfport and further than. In her position, all statewide SPLC policy will be less than Williams Barnes’ route. She stated her new position will permit her to go on to serve marginalized communities with a better statewide affect.

“Working with every single other … is vital,” She claimed. “I glance ahead to taking on all of the expertise that I have had and use it in this new place to continue to do get the job done for people that I’ve been doing work for above the past 10 years, as well as.”

Gratitude for Gulfport people

Williams Barnes reported she is eternally grateful for the guidance of her constituents who have voted time and time all over again for her as their voice at the Capitol in Jackson.

“Any time I ever named for a civic local community meeting, they ended up there and obtained involved, and I encourage them to proceed to be engaged,” she claimed. “Although I’m leaving the place, I’m not leaving the operate.”

Williams Barnes said becoming in the general public eye is not constantly effortless, and she credits her constituents for keeping her accountable and participating with her when she identified as upon them.

“They’ve constantly encouraged me when I needed encouragement,” she claimed.

Williams Barnes needs her constituents to know that even in this new position, she’s normally a phone call away, no matter the time or working day.

“I glance ahead to continuing accomplishing what I know God has identified as me to do, and which is to serve people , primarily those people whose voices are generally muffled.

“My heart remains the very same, and that is serving all of God’s individuals, particularly individuals who appear from underserved communities.”

This tale was at first released May perhaps 2, 2022 4:21 PM.

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Justin Mitchell is the Sun Herald senior information editor and functions on McClatchy’s viewers engagement and growth staff. He also reviews on LGBTQ challenges in the Deep South, especially focusing on Mississippi.


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