JACKSON, MS.- The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Mississippi State Director Waikinya Clanton released the following statement condemning Governor Tate Reeves proclamation of Confederate Heritage Month.
“Despite every effort from the people of Mississippi to pave a new way forward, leaders like Governor Reeves remain fixated on undermining the public’s will for a brighter, better, and more inclusive Mississippi.
It is unfortunate that the governor chooses to glorify the Confederacy—a traitorous government that fought against the United States for the right to enslave Blacks. Despite the historical vote to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag in 2020, more than 150 Confederate memorials remain in Mississippi—including 72 roadways, 48 monuments, and eight schools. These memorials celebrate the injustices that people of color in the South suffered at the hands of Confederates who viewed Black people as subhuman and unworthy of the freedom to exist in this country.
The hypocrisy of recognizing April as both Genocide Awareness and Confederate Heritage Month is both a slap in the face to more than 1.1 million people of color who live in the state and are constantly haunted by the lifelong effects of systemic racism, hatred, and bigotry.
For the third straight year, Gov. Reeves will use Confederate Heritage Month to distract from the pressing issues our state is facing; like our increasing poverty rate of 21.5%, the highest in the nation; or the fact, that there are more than 350,000 non-elderly uninsured people in the state, causing Mississippi to have a higher uninsured rate than the entire United States.
Despite billions in federal relief dollars, Mississippi continues to rank among the lowest in COVID-19 vaccinations, while experiencing the highest-rate of deaths per capita than any other state throughout the entire global pandemic.
Governor Reeves' obsession with perpetuating a false desire to preserve the flawed, divisive legacy of the Confederacy in this state is a desperate attempt to hold on to a false sense of power that has been unequally and inequitably distributed in the state for far too long. His undermining of the public trust by hypercritically observing April as Genocide Awareness Month and Confederacy Heritage Month is a clear contradiction of forward-facing direction the people of Mississippi are seeking to advance our beloved state.
Instead of focusing on these symbols of hate, Governor Reeves should be focused on working in the best interests of all Mississippians, starting by expanding Medicaid, expanding access to the ballot for all Mississippians and protect the accurate accounting and telling of inclusive history.”