There’s a national firestorm in Mississippi, and Governor Phil Bryant appeared to pour gasoline on the flames. It came as Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith responded to a recent video where she said about a rancher standing next to her, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
Monday morning with Hyde-Smith by his side in Jackson, Mississippi, Governor Bryant appeared to equate the lynching of African-Americans to abortion.
“See, in my heart, I am confused about where the outrage is at about 20 million African-American children that have been aborted. No one wants to say anything about that. No one wants to talk about that,” said Bryant.
“We put out a statement yesterday and that’s all I’m going to say about it,” said Sen. Hyde-Smith Monday.
No backing down and no apologizing. Hyde-Smith refused to elaborate on what she meant by saying she would take a front row seat to a public hanging if invited. She made the comments November 2nd, when she expressed her thanks for support to a white Mississippi rancher.
“(What is a public hanging and your context?) We did address it yesterday. Thank you very much,” said Hyde-Smith.
Monday, Mike Espy, who is up against Hyde-Smith in a November 27th Senate runoff election, described the comment as divisive.
“They are hurtful to millions of Mississippians who are people of goodwill,” said Espy.
Espy says Mississippi’s 581 recorded hangings and other acts of racial terror on African-Americans in the 19th and 20th century continue to leave a stain on the state.
“They’re harmful because they tend to reinforce the stereotypes that held back our state for so long and that have cost us jobs and harmed our economy,” said Espy.
Governor Bryant defended Hyde-Smith Monday and said the release of this video was politically motivated.
“I’m not going to try and relive the statement, I can tell you there was no ill will in her heart and there never has been, never will be,” said Gov. Bryant.
The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis, a network of organizations and congregations of faith which aims to acknowledge the history of racial violence and resolve for racial justice and healing, released a statement on Hyde-Smith’s comment, saying, “The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis condemns any statement that gives the appearance of accepting the practice of extra judicial punishment.”