Member Highlight: Juanita Floyd
Regular readers of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal are no doubt familiar with Juanita Floyd – she’s an established presence in the newspaper’s opinion section, where she serves as a community columnist.
Juanita’s column doesn’t provide sharp-tongued opinions on the political issues of the day, however. Instead, she is a voice of encouragement, urging readers to do good on behalf of their community, fight against injustice and make a positive impact on the lives of others.
“Each one of us can promote love instead of hate; promote equality and justice instead of injustice; ease suffering instead of inflicting pain; pull our neighbor and community up instead of pushing them down; build relationships with each other; and heal wounds instead of inflaming them more,” she wrote in 2018. “It is our responsibility to make a difference while we live.”
Juanita’s late mother, Bernice, is a common presence in the column. Juanita notes that despite living through the worst days of Jim Crow, she chose to focus on the good in the world and was “a change agent” in her own right.
“She could have intentionally taught her children to hate because of the world she lived in: limited education, low wages, hard labor working in the cotton fields, not being paid for the work she did, being told by her employer that she didn’t iron enough that day,” Juanita recently wrote. “In spite of those circumstances and disadvantages, my mother chose to see a different world filled with hope, opportunity and forgiveness. She saw love and the face of God.”
Her mother’s life and lessons, in fact, are a key reason Juanita now has the opportunity to share her thoughts with the community.
“I never thought I would be writing a column in the newspaper,” she wrote. “I could have easily been bitter, a racist, unproductive, no motivation, a dropout, and the negative list could go on and on. Her teachings of love made the difference.”
Juanita is a mother herself, having raised three children largely on her own – the youngest of them recently graduated from Mississippi State University. While she is proud of all they, and she, have accomplished, she has also opened up to readers about the difficulties she’s faced.
“I lived through the horror of my children becoming angry and, even at times, hating me. I lived through the horror of my sons getting in trouble with the law,” she wrote. “Reduced to one income, I lived through the horror of not having enough money to pay for everything.”
These horrors, however, did not win out. Her strong Christian faith helped her and her family through the darkest moments. Today, she and all her children have gone on to great success at work and at school.
Juanita uses these examples and others from her life to challenge her readers, often asking them what they are doing to help others, or whether they are grateful for the good in their lives. She often ends her columns with a simple demand for self-reflection: “You be the judge.”
“It doesn’t matter about a person’s race, nationality or socio-economic status,” she wrote recently. “What matters is are we effectively making a difference in someone’s life. Can a person make a difference in a life? Yes.”