Newswire: Mississippi campaign heats up after ‘Lynching’ Remark’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent@StacyBrownMedia

 Mike Espy

It’s a campaign that flew quietly under the radar – though the outcome could not only make history but change the dynamics in the United States Senate. Down in the Delta – where the public lynching of African Americans was the rule and not the exception and the Ku Klux Klan was usually law enforcement, judge, jury and executioner – Mike Espy, a Black man, has forced a runoff against Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. As stunning as Espy’s rise in one of the classic “Good Ole Boys” states, Hyde-Smith, perhaps in a fit of desperation or a time lapse, helped to shine the spotlight on the race that had taken a back seat to the historic runs for governor in two other southern states, Florida and Georgia. “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Hyde-Smith said as she was surrounded by cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson and other supporters at a gathering in Tupelo. Hyde-Smith later tried to walk back the inflammatory comment, saying “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” If the comment was an exaggerated expression of regard, many in the one-time civil rights hotbed — and many more from across the nation — didn’t see it that way. It not only ignited interest in the under-the-radar Senate race, it galvanized Espy’s supporters. “Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s shameful remarks prove once again how [President Donald] Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric. We’ve seen this in Florida from Ron DeSantis and others during this election season and denounce it,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick. To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful,” Johnson said. According to the NAACP, Mississippi had 581 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, more than any other state. The state’s population has the highest percentage of African-Americans of any state, 37 percent according to the last census. “Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character,” Johnson said. Senator Hyde-Smith’s remark that she would “be on the front row” of a “public hanging” is repulsive and her flippant disregard for our state’s deep history of inhumanity tied to lynching is incensing,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “What is worse is her tone-deaf justification for the comment,” said Lumumba, who’s African-American. The ACLU of Mississippi released a statement calling Hyde-Smith’s comments “Despicable and abhorrent.” “We expect and demand that Mississippi leaders represent and remain committed to inclusion and diversity. Sitting senators should not be referencing public hangings unless they are condemning them,” The ACLU’s statement said. Espy himself weighed in. “Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible. They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country,” Espy said. “We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.” The race for the Senate out of Mississippi has grown in its importance since election day. With the Democrats taking control of the House, the party has continued to narrow the majority in the Senate. After a stunning victory in Arizona by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, and Rick Scott’s win in Florida after a recount, Republicans hold a narrow majority of 52 to 47, with the Mississippi election to determine the final result. Espy once served as agriculture secretary under Democratic President Bill Clinton and, in 1986, he became the first African-American from Mississippi elected to Congress since Reconstruction. Born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Espy received a B.A. from Howard University in 1975 and then attended law school at the University of Santa Clara where he received his J.D. degree in 1978. Espy returned to Mississippi after law school and worked as an attorney for Central Mississippi Legal Services from 1978 to 1980, according to blackpast.org. Between 1980 and 1984 Espy served as assistant secretary of the Public Lands Division for the State of Mississippi and then took the post of assistant State Attorney General for Consumer Protection, a position he held until 1985. The following year Mike Espy won the 2nd Congressional District seat which included much of the Mississippi Delta, becoming the only black Congressman to represent a predominately rural district. Now, Espy is trying to unseat Hyde-Smith, whose comments have those outside of Mississippi rallying for him as the runoff approaches on Nov. 27. “North Mississippi and Memphis are connected at the hip,” said Corey Strong, the Shelby County Democratic Party Chair in Memphis.“We are looking at potentially having a day of action for members of Shelby County and a concerted effort to go down and support Mike Espy in that race,” Strong said.

Newswire: NAACP: Mississippi candidate’s ‘public hanging’ remark is sick, shameful

 By Hazel Trice Edney

 Mike Espy, Democratic candidate for Mississippi U. S. Senate seat

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The NAACP has issued a stinging rebuke to Republican Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who recently invoked a reference to a “public hanging” amidst her campaign against African-American Democratic candidate Mike Espy. Referring to a glowing endorsement from Mississippi cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson, Hyde-Smith said, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” The remarks drew laughter and applause, but she apparently did not know the comments were being videotaped by journalist Lamar White Jr. After public release of the video, Hyde-Smith issued a statement saying, “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” She has refused to make any further comment or apologize for the remark, which clearly invokes painful images of thousands of Black people who were lynched or killed by White supremacists in the Deep South with Mississippi being a leading offender. The highest number of lynchings in the U. S. took place in Mississippi from 1882-1968 with 581, according to the NAACP. “Georgia was second with 531, and Texas was third with 493,” says a report by the civil rights organization, adding that 79 percent of lynching happened in the South. Among the best known killings of Black people by White supremacists, Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, occurred in Money and Jackson, Mississippi respectively. Further exacerbating the impact of Hyde-Smith’s remark is the fact that she has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, who has made no public comment on the issue. “Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s shameful remarks prove once again how Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric. We’ve seen this in Florida from Ron DeSantis and others during this election season and denounce it,” said NAACP President Johnson in a statement. Ron DeSantis, Republican nominee for Flordia governor, also drew a fire storm of criticism when he said in a television interview that Florida voters should not “monkey this up” by electing Andrew Gillum, his opponent, who would be the state’s first black governor. That campaign is amidst a recount. “Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick. To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful,” Johnson said. “Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character.” Espy himself has released a statement calling Hyde-Smith’s comments “reprehensible” and saying, “They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.” Joining the rebuke of Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson described her comments as “beyond disrespectful and offensive.” He pointed out that Mississippi has “one of the highest numbers of public lynching, that we know of, than any other state in this country.” Hyde-Smith has refused to speak further on the issue, saying, “I put out a statement yesterday, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.” It is not clear how or whether this new controversy will affect her Nov. 27th run-off against Espy. They both received about 41 percent of the vote in a four-way race Nov. 6. Espy, a former member of the U. S. Congress who served from 1987 to 1993, would become the first black senator to represent Mississippi since Reconstruction. From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were Black. The Blacks lynched accounted for 72.7 percent of the people lynched. These numbers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynchings were ever recorded. Out of the 4,743 people lynched only 1,297 White people were lynched. That is only 27.3 percent. Many of the Whites lynched were lynched for helping the Black or being anti-lynching and even for domestic crim

Mike Espy receives award at Federation’s 50th Anniversary

FederationMike Espy, former Secretary of Agriculture received the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday night in Birmingham as part of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives’ 50th Annual Meeting and anniversary. Shirley Blakely of Mississippi, Board Chair, joined by other board members and Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, presented the award. The meeting continued Friday and Saturday at the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center. More than 500 people attended the three-day celebration. The Federation was founded 1967 by 22 cooperatives and credit unions, arising out of the Civil Rights Movement, who banded together for mutual assistance, training and pooled resources. For more information, see the organization’s website at: www.federation.coop.