Since 1977, Quitman County Development Organization Inc. (QCDO) has been serving the Northwest Mississippi area through housing, education, and economic development. Recently, I got a chance to talk with QCDO’s CEO Robert L. Jackson and ask him more about how the program is going.
Ryan Weary (RW): How are you doing today?
Robert Jackson (RJ): I‘m doing good, just battling allergies. Besides that, I’m doing okay.
RW: How have things been going at Quitman?
RJ: Pretty good. Our organization just celebrated 40 years of working in the community. The fact that we are still in business is a blessing. We’ve weathered 40 years of existence, and we hope to serve the community for 40 more.
RW: Excellent. What are some of the programs that you guys offer?
RJ: Currently, we offer an afterschool program for our elementary kids. We have operated out of the Rev. Carl Brown Center since 2005. We also work with an afterschool program held at First Oak Grove Baptist, ran by Lula Henderson in Crowder.
RW: How many kids are in your program now?
RJ: We have in the neighborhood of 40-50 kids throughout the year. Without REAL’s assistance, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Most foundations and funders have shifted away to give towards other things, but it’s a blessing that REAL Christian Foundation still works with us.
RW: What are some of the programs or opportunities that you guys are involved in outside of that?
RJ: We have a radio station called WCQC, licensed on FM radio out in Clarksdale. The station serves areas within 50-75 miles of Quitman, reaching all the way to Alabama. Our station plays Gospel and Blues music, and we expect to have a few talk shows running soon.
“Save the Children” is another program we have that helps assist kids in learning to read
and increasing their word association skills. It’s been going on for seven years and has been going really well. It teaches kids the importance of reading, which is the basis for a good life. Right now, “Save the Children” serves 50-75 kids in Lambert.
RW: Awesome. Have you had any issues?
RJ: The only issue has been trying to find ongoing additional funders to help us do what we do. We do housing repair and rental housing in the area along with operating a credit union. The credit union merged with Red River Bank in recent years to help us continue providing financial help to the community.
RW: That’s good. What are some of the dreams that you have for the kids, for the program as a whole, and for the community?
RJ: One of the dreams I have is for the kids to learn Black History. We’d like to be able to take them to the museums here as well as those in Washington and other areas. Our schools systems aren’t adequately teaching African American history even though it’s in the books. Our state’s history is rich, and they should definitely know about that history.
Another dream is that we can find parents that are interested with working with the program and expanding the program. We would like to see them offer ideas that they would be interested in. Most of all, we would love to identify someone who could come along and take this ministry to the next level.
My dream for Quitman is that we rise up and take on the leadership so we can provide for the things our community needs. It’s going to happen through us and by us. The ultimate dream is safer communities, jobs, and quality education for Quitman and the surrounding areas.
RW: What continues to drive you?
RJ: I’m driven by seeing the needs out there and seeing that I have some of the knowledge and energy needed to help address these issues. It’s something I don’t know if I can live without, but I’m sure God will have something else for me when the time comes for me to step back.
RW: What can we pray with you for?
RJ: Pray for us in terms of our safety, for unity. Pray that we can ingratiate others so that we can have people to help continue doing this work for years to come.
RW: We definitely will. Do you have any other needs?
RJ: Yes. We are looking for partners to help educate our youth about the Mule train (part of the poor people’s march that Martin Luther King Jr. started). He was working on that right before he got killed.
RW: I hear that. Well, thank you so much for your time, sir.
RJ: No problem, take care.