top of page

2020 Session Begins with Religion, Rednecks and Rain

Bills, Bills, Bills

It’s the first week of the Mississippi legislative session and racist bills are already barreling through Capitol halls. (How are we already at the lightning round?!)

Senator Joseph Seymour (R) Photo courtesy of the Mississippi State Senate

Two bills submitted by Republican Sen. Joseph Seymour, of Vancleave, make a fine example. Seymour thinks the recent national effort to push the casted images of execrable racists, segregationists and slavers off their bronze pedestals and out of the public eye is anathema to Southern heritage, and he wants to put a stop to the removal of white pride emblems all over the state. So his Senate Bill 2043, which was one of the first slew of bills to drop this month, demands “No statue, monument, memorial, cemetery headstone, nameplate school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, reserve, historic flag display or other public items, structure or areas of the state or any of its political subdivisions … which has been dedicated in memory of, or named for, any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization or military unit associated with the wars and conflicts … and located on public property, may be renamed, rededicated, relocated, removed, altered or otherwise disturbed.”

That’s a diplomatic mouthful, but when Seymour says “historical military figure, historical military event, or military organization,” you can bet he’s referring to the only military figures and events currently under fire from folks who think the South’s Civil War fight to own people was barbaric (or are at least embarrassed by it). So, yes, you can take to the bank he’s referring to banners of white supremacy smeared over the state by racists who were still aching from their loss of the Civil War.

Seymour’s bill, had it been made law a few years ago, would have prevented the renaming of Davis Magnet School, in Jackson, to Barack H. Obama Magnet School last year. The school, which was ranked the No. 1 school in the state in 2018, was originally named after Jefferson Davis, the president of the brutal, slave-owning confederacy during its (temporary) secession from the United States. The bill, if passed and upheld in court, would also keep majority-Black cities such as Jackson from removing the names of racist governors and other monsters from street signs.

Seymour is the same senator behind a similar effort this session to keep the Mississippi flag and its confederate battle emblem upon state colleges, universities and K-12 schools. Seymour’s second pushy, bigoted atrocity demands the Mississippi flag “be displayed on Monday through Friday of each week from sunrise to sunset on or at each building in which an office of a governmental entity that receives state funds is located.”

Meanwhile, over on the House side of the Capitol, members voted to approve HB 1, which fixed last year’s incomplete teacher pay raise by extending that raise to thousands of teacher aides. The pay fix, which amounts to a $1,000 increase for each worker, carries an $18.5 million price tag for the state, but Rep. Zakiya Summers, D-Jackson, told followers she was “happy to be here to fix that.”

I Swear …

In other news, the state held a swearing-in ceremony for freshman Gov. Tate Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Attorney General Lynn Fitch, and the world did not crash violently to an end. Reeves promised to “bring Mississippi together” despite his countless pre-election rants against anyone qualifying as a “liberal” or voting in the Democratic Party. Strange.

Reeves continued to hit the same evangelistic tone that dominated his campaign when he made a reference back to his 2004 swearing-in ceremony as state treasurer.

“The last sentence of that (2004) oath hit me hard on that day and it drives me still today: So. Help. Me. God,” Reeves said. “The call to action of the oath of office is not a commitment to be perfect. It is a commitment to seek the guidance of the Almighty God to compensate for our human frailty.”

God may not have felt very Republican on the planned day of Reeves’ outdoor ceremony, however. The sky dropped enough rain on Reeves to wash the new governor’s proposed parade into a storm drain, which led organizers to cancel event and move to a more modest version of the ceremony inside.


bottom of page