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Wed Nov 21, 2018, 10:24 PM

MUST-READ: Why the blood of a 1955 Mississippi murder drenches today's U.S. Senate race

Stunning new Will Bunch column published a few days ago by the Philly Inquirer, explaining a lot about Cindy Hyde-Smith's background and the community she grew up in:

http://www2.philly.com/philly/columnists/will_bunch/cindy-hyde-smith-mississippi-senate-race-mike-espy-lamar-smith-1955-murder-20181118.html




The cold-blooded killing of Lamar Smith which occurred in broad daylight before a crowd of people outside the Lincoln County Courthouse in Brookhaven, Miss., on Aug. 13, 1955 is still considered an unsolved murder, but only in the most technical sense of the term.

The truth is there wasn't much mystery about it, then or now. The 63-year-old local farmer and veteran of World War I, known as a fearless activist for his black community and for a seminal civil rights group called the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, crumpled from a gunshot in front of dozens of people, including the county sheriff, who saw a white farmer named Noah Smith leaving the scene splattered with the activist's bright-red blood.

Nor is there any debate over why Lamar Smith paid with his life that day. At the instant he was gunned down, the community leader was carrying a bundle of absentee ballots for an upcoming county election, the fruit of his idea for how African Americans in the Brookhaven area could cast votes without the white violence they'd likely encounter at a polling place on Election Day.

The murder of Lamar Smith may have happened 63 years ago but don't dare call it a cold case. It is one of the most powerful pieces of evidence in a cruel, sometimes violent and still ongoing conspiracy to suppress black votes in the American South, a chain of custody that stretches from the Ku Klux Klan night riders of the 1860s to Selma's "Bloody Sunday" in 1965 to the computer-aided web of purges, restrictive ID laws and shuttered polling places of the 2010s.

-snip-

Four years after he was killed, a baby girl was born in Brookhaven named Cindy Hyde. Over the next 59 years, she immersed herself in the politics of a community that bitterly refuses to concede the just cause that Lamar Smith died for.

-snip-

"Brookhaven is a different beast," documentary filmmaker Keith Beauchamp told me this weekend. It was Beauchamp's film about a more famous 1955 murder in Mississippi the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till that helped convince federal officials to reopen that cold case, and Beauchamp immersed himself in Brookhaven for a subsequent TV documentary on the killing of Lamar Smith, which took place just two weeks before Till's lynching.

-snip-

Decades later, a witness told the FBI that the killers ambushed Lamar Smith with his absentee ballots in an apparent setup. Although he was shot at 10 a.m. with a large crowd milling around the Brookhaven courthouse, the sheriff, Carnie E. Smith (by now you may have noticed everyone in this saga seems to be named Smith), didn't immediately arrest the blood-stained Noah Smith or two alleged accomplices, Charles Falvey and Mack (wait for it) Smith. Those three men were later cited but an all-white grand jury did not indict them. The district attorney said it was Sheriff Smith's "duty to take that man into custody regardless of who he was, but he did not do it."

The soil that harbored that injustice would nurture Hyde-Smith as she grew up in Brookhaven during the tumultuous 1960s and '70s. The filmmaker Beauchamp told me he's found loose family ties between Hyde-Smith's in-laws and key players in the segregation fight that his research shows husband Michael Smith is related to 1955 arrestee Mack Smith and that Michael Smith's sister married the grandson of segregationist judge Tom Brady. None of that is surprising, perhaps, in such a close-knit community. The alleged killer Noah Smith died in 1975 and was buried in Macedonia Baptist Church, the same church where Cindy Hyde-Smith has been a Sunday school teacher.

What's harder to explain is one of Hyde-Smith's first acts during her first term in the Mississippi Legislature in 2002, which was to unsuccessfully push a bill to rename Highway 51 running through Brookhaven as Jefferson Davis Highway, in honor of the slave-owning president of the Confederacy who had no specific tie to Brookhaven. A recent report from the senator's hometown in Mississippi Today notes that even now when many communities have removed the hot-button Mississippi state flag with its stars-and-bars Confederate imagery Brookhaven has "doubled down" by flying the controversial banner every 50 yards or so on the town's main drag.

Beauchamp told me that in his extensive reporting on Mississippi he's never seen a wall of silence quite like Brookhaven, both among whites not particularly eager to discuss the past and blacks who may remember more than a century of intimidation tactics all too well. It could be easy to dismiss all of this the flags, the highway renaming, the bizarre words that come from Hyde-Smith's mouth as nothing more than cringe-worthy symbolism. But voter suppression in Mississippi while updated for the 21st century remains all too real.

-snip-

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Reply MUST-READ: Why the blood of a 1955 Mississippi murder drenches today's U.S. Senate race (Original post)
highplainsdem Nov 21 OP
highplainsdem Nov 21 #1
klook Nov 21 #2
demosincebirth Nov 21 #3
highplainsdem Nov 22 #8
bobbieinok Nov 21 #4
KSNY Nov 21 #5
LuvNewcastle Nov 22 #6
Buckeyeblue Nov 22 #7
Scurrilous Nov 22 #9
Persondem Nov 22 #10
BlueWI Nov 22 #11

Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2018, 10:53 PM

1. Bunch's tweet about his column on "the deep roots of white supremacy in a 2018 Senate race":





Some interesting replies there, too.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2018, 11:14 PM

2. Holy shit.

Chilling story. She represents the worst of the old Backward South.

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Response to klook (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 21, 2018, 11:20 PM

3. In some parts it still is backwards

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Response to demosincebirth (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 22, 2018, 10:00 AM

8. That's what some of the people replying to Bunch's tweet about his column (reply 1) said.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2018, 11:33 PM

4. Thanks for posting. We must NEVER FORGET our past!

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2018, 11:53 PM

5. Thanks for reminding me why I need to donate to her opponent

Mike Espy...just did it.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2018, 06:42 AM

6. She was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Phil Bryant.

That fact alone is enough to prove that she isn't fit for the job. Gov. Bryant is an asshole and a bigot. He is more consistently wrong than any other politician I can think of.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2018, 08:40 AM

7. When I read articles like that

It's hard for me to not wish for bad things to happen to some people. But the worst thing that could ever happen to Hyde-Smith would be for her to lose an election to a black man. She can't put a coherent sentence together now, imagine her in the throes of defeat.

Get out and vote, Mississippi.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2018, 10:11 AM

9. K&R

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2018, 10:23 AM

10. An important reminder. Thank you for posting K & R nt

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2018, 12:11 PM

11. Powerful and sobering - thanks!

All of us have work to do - today, tomorrow, and on from there. This post has motivated me personally to donate to Espy and to stay active on this front.

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