Read a PDF of our statement here.

In recent days, the water system in Jackson, Mississippi, has reached its breaking point. A system that has long been in a state of crisis – including an active boil water order for residents since mid-July – has now failed and left residents, businesses, and schools without the necessity of reliable running water. 

In response to the latest developments, Legal Defense Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Janai Nelson issued the following statement: 

“This latest water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi – home to the second-largest Black population in the United States – was foreseeable and is the inevitable consequence of both a water system and state leadership that has continuously failed its residents. Just two years ago, Jackson’s drinking water was found to have the potential to host harmful bacteria and, in 2021, a major winter storm caused pipes to burst, resulting in residents being without water for a month. 

“Decades of inaction by the state to upgrade and invest in the Jackson water system and necessary infrastructure improvements have led local officials and residents to sound the alarm on this issue for years, including earlier in 2022 during another water crisis, to no avail.  

“The residents of Jackson deserve a swift and permanent solution by state and federal officials, as well as responsible public control and oversight of the water system. Privatization has led to ongoing harm to Jackson residents and a financial boon to domestic and foreign corporations. This must end. Profits must not be prioritized over public health. 

“LDF has long argued that access to clean, healthy, reliable water is a human right. Black communities like Jackson, Flint, Detroit, Cleveland, and other marginalized communities continue to suffer most acutely from this issue. LDF will continue to stand with these and other communities to fight this environment and racial justice crisis and put an end to the disproportionate racial impact of the deprivation of water services.”


Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.