Mississippi’s governor came under fire for ignoring a Black congressman’s years of effort to help establish a national monument to slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, choosing instead to credit President Trump and the state’s Republican senators.
Trump signed a bill on Tuesday that designated the house in Jackson, Mississippi of Evers and his wife, Myrlie Evers, a national monument.
Gov. Phil Bryant, who has a history of blowing racist dog whistles, tweeted his appreciation to the Republicans.
“Thank you to @realDonaldTrump for signing legislation today to designate Medgar and Myrlie Evers home as a National Monument. @SenatorWicker & @SenHydeSmith have worked very hard on this for some time and are to be commended,” he wrote.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, responded Wednesday to that tweet.
Thompson later explained to WJTV, “Governor Bryant historically has been against civil rights in this state and for him to try to capture this moment is disingenuous on his part… You can’t get on this train when it’s left the station 16 years ago and try to pretend you were conductor.”
Even though Trump signed the bill, he has a long history of racism. Not to be outdone, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who has praised the Confederacy, set off a furor during her 2018 campaign against Black candidate Mike Espy with a remark about public hangings in a state that has a long history of lynchings.
Bryant fired back at Thompson in a statement to WJTV.
“It’s sad that Congressman Thompson so desires personal acclaim that he shatters what should be a time of celebration for all Mississippians with this designation. His anger and hatred are the very characteristics that separated our people in the civil rights era. He has become a tragic figure who has squandered this opportunity to help bring our state together,” the statement said.
Folks took to Twitter to support Thompson.
Evers was Mississippi’s first NAACP field secretary beginning in 1954. As an activist, he led voter registration drives and boycotts to push for racial equality. He was assassinated by a white supremacist outside his family’s Jackson home on June 12, 1963.
“I know the Evers family personally. … So I’m comfortable with where I stand, it’s just the Johnny-come-latelies all the sudden want to take credit for something they had nothing to do with… If they are now making it partisan and don’t include the democrat who filed the original bill, it’s politics,” Thompson said.