The Mississippi state legislature passed House Resolution 58 and Senate Resolution 31 February 27. The resolutions allege Governor Barbour has declared March 2, 2009 as "America's Foundation Spirit of Community Day" to honor seven high school students for athletic performance, scholarship, and citizenship (although a spokesperson from the Governor's office denied that the Governor had made such a proclamation, nor that he intended to). So, what is the problem with that?
First of all, the sponsoring organization asking for the resolutions is headed by Richard Barrett, a Mississippi resident who has long been identified as a leader in the white supremacist movement. Barrett has a sordid history of racist comments and is currently a leader in the Nationalist Movement, which the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League track as a hate organization due to the violence of their views and actions. The Senate Resolution was authored by John L. Moore, who is connected with the Conservative Citizens Council--the modern offshoot of the old White Citizens Council during the Jim Crow era. It is a pretty far stretch of my imagination to think that Moore did not know of the connection between Barrett and the Nationalist Movement.
Representative Robert Johnson advised the House members of Barrett's long association as a white supremacist, and his connections with the Nationalist Movement, as well as his 3 decades of segregationist and racist activities. He urged the house to not support this resolution based on the connection with Barrett. Because it was a resolution and not a bill, there is voice vote only, but apparently--per the Clarion Ledger and Sun Herald, the resolution passed with few no votes and NO DISCUSSION even after Johnson raised his objections. Johnson has called for a motion to reconsider, and the resolution reconsider will come up as early as Monday, March 9. A colleague and I have been working to contact Mississippi residents to ask them to contact their representatives and rescind this resolution. We have further long-term action coming, but right now, the urgency is to address the Monday debate in the House.
In the March 2009 Nationalist Movement Newsletter, All the Way, there was an article where the movement has issued a call for "pro-majority" members in their teens and twenties to move to Mississippi to help build the movement, litigate, and provide security. Some called for "whole families to move up to Mississippi, to put our hands in to help the movement."
Another article in the March 2009 issue--full of misspelled words--reported that in spite of the general anti-abortion stance of Mississippi, "segrationalists [their spelling] insisted that abortion be available to Negroes, to stem the welfare-element, which had been over powering social-services." The article referred to the governor as "Indian Governor Haley Barbour" and to the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi as "Lebnese Chancelor Robert Khayat who had tried to ban the slave-master icon, Colonel Reb."
Barrett himself authored an article in the March 2009 newsletter titled "Blood-base lined up when 'bailout' collapses" in which he referred to the Obama administration as the "Kenyan-occupation" and stated "no real Americans are dealing with or adding legitimacy to the Africans" and referred to the White House as the "Black House." Barrett further wrote "The evacuation [of patriots] has been across the board, letting the Republicans slip into the same Negro-hands as the Democrats, as if to say, 'When you reach rock-bottom, we will be around to build things back.' "
This is the character and the activity of the individual about whom Representative Joe Warren, Chair of the House Committee said, "I am not concerned about this individual. I am concerned about these young men." And how much of an "honor" can it be for the young men selected by this individual? If I were one of their parents, I would be appalled to have Barrett and his organization select my child for recognition--knowing his views. I find it impossible to believe that in the entire state of Mississippi, only 7 young white men, all from southern Mississippi and 5 of 7 attending private white schools, are the only high school students who are achieving scholastically, athletically, and in citizenship leadership. Given the role of 34 members of the Mississippi legislature who are members of the Conservative Citizens Council (formerly known as White Citizens Council), what kind of leadership are we talking about?
For the Mississippi legislature to support this resolution is appalling. My colleague and I are organizing opposition for the resolution and a demand for accountability. Please join us, even if you are not in Mississippi. The legislature needs to hear loudly and clearly, and words from people outside Mississippi are important. Contact Representative Robert Johnson at email@example.com and let him know you appreciate his taking a stand to oppose this action. Contact Representative Joe Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know that he should be concerned about sponsoring a resolution requested by a known white supremacist connected to the Nationalist Movement, and it is very much about him, not just the young men. Contact the authors of the resolution, John Moore at email@example.com, Lester Carpenter at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Mark Formby at email@example.com immediately and ask them to support rescinding this resolution and be accountable for knowing the ramifications of resolutions. If they did not know Barrett's connections (which is highly unlikely) they knew when Representative Johnson argued on the floor to oppose the resolution. If they did know at the time they authored it, that is even worse.
My colleague and I will be continuing to organize to communicate with the Senate, newspapers, national newsletters, and other mediums to address this issue, and I will follow up with other action information later. Please make a contact now, though, as this will come up Monday. It should not come up without Representative Johnson being able to tell Mississippi that--once again--the world is watching.