Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 03:26 am est

Racism taints Mississippi’s push for progress

Posted on April 9, 2014 | by Dan Moritz-Rabson

Mississippi held a groundbreaking ceremony for the United States’ first state-funded civil rights museum last October. While the construction of the museum signifies a step forward in the recognition of Mississippi’s history of racial inequality, the gesture fails to erase the state’s brutal past or remedy its current racism. Supporters who believe the museum represents a milestone in ending the state’s tradition of prejudice should consider the scope of the museum’s impact on furthering equality in Mississippi — a state where the Ku Klux Klan still holds a prominent role; a state with a Confederate symbol on its flag; and a state where, less than 60 years ago, the murderers of Emmett Till went unpunished. Building a museum cannot significantly diminish prejudice in a place that presents a severely antiquated view of racial equality and ratified the Thirteenth Amendment only last year.

While universities often cultivate progressive thinking and strive to improve each student’s ability to succeed after college, racism is continuously apparent at the University of Mississippi, indicating the depth of the state’s discrimination. In 1962, when James Meredith, a black man, attempted to enroll in the university, riots prompted the involvement of 31,000 federal troops. A statue now stands on campus to commemorate Meredith’s impact on the school’s desegregation. However, the progress catalyzed by Meredith threatens white supremacists, who attached a noose around the neck of Meredith’s statue and hung a Confederate flag on it in February.

The university, which has a monument commemorating Confederate soldiers, receives media attention relatively often for the instances of racism that plague its image. During President Barack Obama’s re-election, around 400 students gathered to protest while yelling racial slurs and burning campaign signs.

The university serves as a microcosm for much of the state, where more hate crimes and demonstrations of racism occur. One of these recent events caused the death of an innocent black man. In 2011, seven teens attacked the unsuspecting James Craig Anderson before one of the perpetrators ran him over with a truck.

The perpetrators’ actions and the events on the university campus are indicative of the racism that is deeply rooted in parts of Mississippi. This intolerance affects all generations, not just individuals who grew up when laws explicitly promoted segregation. Clearly, racial prejudices still exist. The persistence of racial biases taints American efforts to promote equality. The racist factions in Mississippi must stop living in the Civil War era and join in the promotion of equality.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 9 print edition. Dan Moritz-Rabson is a contributing columnist. Email him at opinion@nyunews.com.

Comments

  • Richard Scott Farris

    Here is yet another fool liar fool New York college student that doesnt know “straight up from a hole in the ground”. (Prejudiced anti-South bigots like this brain-washed indoctrinated kid NEVER cease to propagate their false propaganda against our American South–particularly the tired old whipping boy of Mississippi–the most lied about State in their Union. E.g., 92% of Southerners NEVER owned a slave [but Northerners, Indians, AND BLACKS did], etc.)…Obviously this typically uninformed, misinformed, misguided yankee child has no idea what kind of a HYPOCRITE State he himself is in: Yes NYC where numerous slave burial grounds have been uncovered right there in pure pristine innocent Manhattan, where MANY slave ships were home-ported for 250 years, and where the corrupt & guilty American Insurance Industry became billionaires based on ill-gotten profits via insuring those same slave ships (and their human cargo) for 250 years! Definitive Definition of a Northern Yankee: Supreme Hypocrite…The guaranteed antidote to cure any fair-minded American of the horrible 200-year-old DISEASE known as “The Northern MYTHS of American History”: ASAP read the definitive best-selling book “The South Was Right!” [by Ron & Don Kennedy, 1994]. DEO VINDICE (God will vindicate us [i.e. The South])

  • David Scrimpshire

    Sir, your ridiculous bias toward my state stems from watching too many poorly written late-night skits. It is BECAUSE of our history that Mississippi stands as a beacon of racial harmony and diversity that the rest of this nation should aspire to. I see far more racially-charged incidents and filth spewed from people in other states, the northeastern states in particular. Own up to your region’s shortcomings and stop pointing your finger southward!

  • Steve

    You are a bigot of the worst kind. Our state is much more civilized than many other states in the union, including yours, where there are clearly defined black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods.
    The Confederate flag that my state so proudly includes as part of its flag represents the opposition to federal desecration of states’ rights that Lincoln perpetrated. The war between the states had little, if anything, to do with slavery. Slavery not being abolished or even mentioned by Lincoln until the war was almost over and surely won by the Northern aggressors. Many free black men’s bodies rotted on the battlefield after fighting for the Yankees, because they were not men to be honored with recovery and burial by Northern troops. You should really study your history.
    Get your bigoted head out of your behind and live in the now. Racism is everywhere, and I could point you to many more recent episodes of violent bigotry in your state.

    • LawGeekNYC

      Yeah, that “States Rights” myth is getting old: The only state right Lincoln threatened was the right to own slaves. And you still seem bitter about him “perpetrating” that horrible act of equality.

      In its declaration of secession, Mississippi explained, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world … a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

      In its declaration of secession, South Carolina actually comes out against the rights of states to make their own laws — at least when those laws conflict with slaveholding. “In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals,” the document reads. The right of transit, Loewen said, was the right of slaveholders to bring their slaves along with them on trips to non-slaveholding states.

      In its justification of secession, Texas sums up its view of a union built upon slavery: “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”

      • Steve

        And that makes you equally as ignorant as the author of the article. The fact that your supposed law geekiness gives you some authority to use profanity to take the place of intelligent discourse is an even greater example of the bigotry of the north.

        If you think Lincoln was some great emancipator and caring person for the black race, you might want to re-think your law schooling.
        Your great hero, Mr. Lincoln, said “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.”

        So don’t give me some speech about the great emancipator. His feelings were hurt because he could not rule a whole nation through governance and had to resort to force. His own generals owned slaves up to and until the famous Emancipation Proclamation, which apparently you have forgotten.

        My feelings aren’t hurt because you are ignorant. I feel bad for you that you don’t even realize the sad state of self-superiority you live in. Your bigoted believe that all :men: are equal except for Southerners. None of my ancestors ever owned slaves and our heritage goes all the way back to before the Declaration of Independence in our great country.

        You can deny your state’s racism all you want, but it’s there. The crap I hear from people who are transplanted northerners is ridiculously bigoted and hateful towards black people, so don’t give me that “backwards Mississippi” nonsense.

        Have you ever lived in Mississippi? I seriously doubt it. The concept you have of us being backwards obviously stems from watching too much TV.

        I commend you on the fact that you consider a white population that outnumbers the black population 2 to 1 to be “racially diverse”.and somehow superior to the south where we live mostly in harmony in much greater racial diversity.

        Revisionist history? How about a rose-colored present?

        • LawGeekNYC

          I didn’t say anything about Lincoln being a great emancipator. I merely said that your vitriol for him is telling.

          And I did not deny my states racism. What part of “Racism is everywhere” did you find so confusing? I merely said that the existence of it here doesn’t magically make it equal in degree.

          I’m utterly confused as to why you think us having a 20% African American population is somehow shameful. You think that having a large black population descended from Mississippi’s slaves somehow makes you superior? I’m curious how that works.

          It’s not about percentage, it’s is about how people are treated.

          Lastly, please point out where I made claims about how diverse we are. Like the claim that I deny that we have racism, I worry about your reading comprehension skills.

          • Steve

            Yes, NY is nowhere near as backwards as MS.
            The general population of NY state is 15% black, while the prison population in NY state is 51% black. Much nicer racism in the North.

    • LawGeekNYC

      And where are you getting that “clearly defined” neighborhood crap? Have you spent any time in Washington Square? Having lived there, I can tell you, you’re full of shit. Moreover, I now live in Queens, which is not only integrated, but a place where the average black income is higher than the average white income. NYC is not perfect by any means, but to pretend it is somehow more racially backward than Mississippi because your feelings got hurt is laughably dishonest. Racism is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean it is everywhere in the same way or to the same degree.

      Moreover, your still-existing anti-Lincoln sentiments, your revisionist history whitewashing the cause of the civil war and your defense of a traitorous entity that betrayed our country and killed American soldiers does nothing to refute this young man’s point. Rather, I think far less of Mississippi than I did before reading your comment.

  • James Donald

    Yes Prejudice is still in Mississippi But every where else also. Yes Ignorance and Hate is still here but Every where else too…However the few bad apples as always makes the rest of the Bushel seem the same way…..Here…There…..and Everywhere.

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