Over the past month, a spate of race-based violence has spread across Mississippi.
First, the memorial plaque marking the site where Emmett Till’s mutilated body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River was sprayed with bullets. Then, a white student threw a noose around a black student’s neck at a Stone County high school. And just this week, an African American church in Greenville was set on fire and spray painted with the words “Vote Trump.”*
Shortly before these incidents began, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared October to be “racial reconciliation month.” Governor Bryant asked Mississippians to “promote the unifying message of racial reconciliation and healing that can enhance and improve the lives of citizens, businesses and communities in Mississippi.”
We the undersigned organizations call upon Governor Bryant to condemn each of the recent acts of race-based violence as unacceptable and contrary to Mississippi’s goal of racial reconciliation. We also call upon Governor Bryant and Mississippi’s legislative leaders to demonstrate the ideals of racial reconciliation by supporting the removal of the Confederate emblem from the Mississippi state flag, which is a constant reminder of racial oppression and injustice.
Mississippi Center for Justice
Reilly Morse, President/CEO
Southern Poverty Law Center
Jody Owens, Managing Attorney, Mississippi
Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP
Derrick Johnson, State President
Children’s Defense Fund Southern Regional Office
Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald, Southern Regional Director
ACLU of Mississippi
Jennifer Riley Collins, Executive Director
*Editor's note: In December 2016, a suspect, a member of the church, was arrested in connection with the crime, and authorities now believe the attack was not politically motivated.