De’Keither Stamps is a hometown hero
While we think of all our Democratic Municipal Officials who serve in the communities in which they were raised as "hometown heroes" few also wear the proud titles of “community farmer” and “war veteran”. This month we celebrate the journey of a DMO who joined the Marines, served during the Iraq War, and was even assigned to guard President Clinton. Today you might find him proposing legislation to the city council, or tending to his family farm. Meet De'Keither Stamps, City Councilman from Jackson, Mississippi and our DMO of the Month this March.
Councilman Stamps has led on local issues, often innovating to find new paths to reach traditional goals. For instance, he partnered with the Jackson Parent Teacher Association to launch the “Books in Barbershops” program, which creates small libraries in nearly a dozen barbershops throughout the city. This program encourages children to read while waiting at the barber for their haircuts. The city government has also joined forces with the PTA to provide several of the barbers with additional training to help the kids pass grade school literacy tests. The Jackson PTA and Councilman Stamps want to extend the early reading program into beauty salons next.
The insidious nature of hate crimes have historically made them difficult to track. Stamps recognized the need to move forward from that past, sponsoring an ordinance that now requires Jackson police officers to undergo special training on the nature, victims, and perpetrators of hate crimes. The ordinance also formalizes an annual report to include the location of each recorded hate crime and the characteristics of those involved. This legislation came on the heels of both last year's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, and the tragic mass shooting that took place in an African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. While the ultimate goal is to create a world without hate crimes, Stamps' legislation helps ensure that victims at least receive a just response from the legal system.
Councilman Stamps still owns his family's farm near Jackson, and works taking care of the livestock and produce. On his annual “Agritourism Day”, Stamps invites the school children of Jackson to visit his farm and learn the techniques and benefits of growing fresh, healthy food for the community. He also wishes to enable Jacksonians to build Hoop Houses, affordable plastic enclosures that insulate plants and prolong the growing season.
A green thumb is helpful when farming, but Councilman Stamps also applies his to financial matters. He has taken aim on fundamentally reworking the economics of Jackson. Part of this quest is seeking a temporary moratorium on the number of payday lenders in the city. "We've got to figure out what we're going to do to change the economics of the city so that people can afford other types of retail and businesses," Stamps said, noting that that the money tied up in payday loans could instead benefit other local businesses. With 30% of Jackson residents living below the poverty line, Stamps is looking at new alternatives to help ease the community's burden.
Elected officials who serve their home towns do so with a special kind of commitment. You can see that quality of service in De'Keither Stamps' work in Jackson; promoting early childhood education around literacy and agriculture, increasing awareness of hate crimes, and seeking new ways to help his community overcome entrenched poverty. Councilman Stamps is a true hometown hero. We can't wait to see what comes next for this official who has spent his life devoted to the protection and enrichment of those around him.
De’Keither Stamps is the Chairman of the NAACP Armed Services Committee and the founder of the ‘Reviving Heroes’ non-profit organization for veterans and first responders. Before his election to the Jackson City Council, Stamps served his country by enlisting in the Marines, performing his duty in part as a security guard for President Bill Clinton. He is a veteran of the Iraq War, in which he was a patrol leader of a seventeen man unit, and a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. In addition to being a councilman, Stamps is the Second Vice President of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials at National League of Cities.