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Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis statue has new neighbor in U.S. Capitol: Arkansas civil rights leader

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mississippitoday.org – Jerry Mitchell – 2024-05-15 09:40:57

A ago, Arkansas officials unveiled a new statue at the National Statuary Hall to represent the , leader Daisy Bates.

Her statue now stands next to , the president of the Confederacy, one of two statues representing Mississippi.

“This is absolutely embarrassing to the Mississippi that I love,” said Al Price, who has called for changing the state's statues ever since he saw them in 2012 in Washington, D.C. He sought unsuccessfully in 2017 to get state Sen. Lydia Chassaniol, R-Winona, to sponsor a bill to do so.

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He recommends that author William Faulkner and civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer represent the state. “This would be a profound statement by the state of Mississippi,” he said. “It would challenge a lot of the negative stereotypes about the state and would go a long way to healing a lot of wounds.”

Since 2000, 17 states have installed new statues or moved to replace existing statues at the hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Alabama now has Helen Keller. Arizona has Barry Goldwater. California has Ronald Reagan. Kansas has Amelia Earhart and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Michigan has Gerald Ford. Missouri has Harry Truman. Ohio has Thomas Edison. And North Carolina will add Billy Graham on Thursday.

Mississippi, however, has the same statues that were erected almost a century ago, both of them Confederate leaders.

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Some Southern states are replacing Confederate icons with more modern heroes. Arkansas now has Bates; Virginia, Barbara Johns; and Florida, Mary McLeod Bethune, one of the most important Black educators of the 20th century. Congress has added Rosa Parks as well.

The contributions of Native Americans have also been recognized in a number of states, including Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming.

A state can change its statues through a resolution that is adopted by the Legislature and approved by the governor. 

“We just need to have someone courageous enough in the Legislature to do so,” Price said.

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In 2019, Arkansas voted to replace both of its statues, Uriah Rose, who supported Arkansas seceding from the Union, and former U.S. Sen. James Paul Clarke, who vowed to uphold “white supremacy.”

Their replacements are Bates, a mentor to the Little Rock Nine, and music legend Johnny Cash, whose statue is slated to arrive in September.

At the same time Arkansas is switching out the statues that represent the state in Washington, Mississippi has not seriously considered such a change.

During his time as Mississippi's governor, Phil Bryant talked of Elvis Presley and B.B. King as “good possibilities” for possible replacements for a statue.

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Mississippi's most controversial statue is that of Davis, who believed, like many of his Southern peers, that those of African descent were meant to serve the white race.

“We recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race by the Creator, and from cradle to grave, our government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority,” he declared in an 1860 speech.

The state's other statue is a political figure that many Mississippians may not recognize — J.Z. George, who fought in the Civil War and later became the charging force in disenfranchising Black Mississippians through the 1890 state constitution and restoring “white supremacy” to government.

James K. Vardaman, the racist governor and U.S. senator who aided George in that fight, said the constitution was adopted “for no other purpose than to eliminate the n—– from politics.” White supremacy had to be maintained, even if it meant every Black Mississippian had to be lynched, he said.

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Within a decade, the number of Black registered voters fell from more than 130,000 to less than 1,300. 

Credit: Courtesy of Charles Sims

George's great-great-great grandson, Charles Sims, recently recommended that his ancestor's statue be moved from Statuary Hall back to Mississippi, where he said it belongs.

“We cannot erase the past, but neither should we be a prisoner of it, either,” Sims said. “I think the statue should be removed from the Capitol because we cannot honor racial hatred.”

Statuary Hall still the statues of six Confederate leaders, a third of them representing the Magnolia State.

In a recent online poll, 592 gave their top votes for possible statues to Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers, who was assassinated in 1963 and who was honored recently with the Presidential Medal of Honor, as the top choice with 40% of the votes. Hamer received 26%; Faulkner, 21%; crusading journalist Ida B. Wells, 16%; music icon Elvis Presley, 15%; author Eudora Welty, 12%; former Gov. William Winter, 11%; and blues legend B.B. King, 9%.

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Kevin Greene, history professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, said his nomination would be Evers, who fought for his country, first on the battlefield against the Nazis and later on the battlefield against Jim Crow, he said. “All of the good things embedded in America are embedded in Medgar Evers.”

He suggested discussions across communities regarding what statues should represent the state. “Mississippi needs to the way in these conversations,” he said. “These are opportunities to teach and to reconcile our past as some nations ought to and haven't.”

Pam Junior, former director of the History of Mississippi and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, said the state is supposed to have experienced this paradigm shift, starting with the state , “but we keep going backwards and allow statues like these to continue to represent Mississippi.”

As a replacement, she suggests “Medgar Wiley Evers, who was for all people, not just one group of people,” she said. “Until we make that paradigm shift, we're never going to move up. We have to start with us.”

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This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Mississippi Today

6,000 U.S. doctors urge the Supreme Court to keep abortions in medical emergencies legal

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mississippitoday.org – Shefali Luthra, The 19th – 2024-05-22 13:24:05

Originally published by The 19th

Nearly 6,000 doctors, hailing from all 50 states, have drafted a letter asking the Supreme Court to uphold a federal law that requires hospital emergency departments to abortions when they are needed to stabilize .

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The letter, organized by the left-leaning Committee to Protect and shared first with The 19th, concerns the case Idaho v. United States, which the high court heard in April.

In that case, the federal government has argued that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act — a 1986 law known as EMTALA — requires that hospitals participating in the federal Medicare program provide abortions if doing so is the necessary treatment in an emergency. Idaho has contested that interpretation, and argued that its -level abortion ban supersedes federal law. Idaho's current ban allows an exception only if the procedure will save the of the pregnant person, but not if it will otherwise preserve their

“We know firsthand how complications from pregnancy can lead very quickly to a medical crisis, requiring immediate care and treatment,” states the letter, which was signed by doctors across specialties whose abilities to provide care could be affected by a ban, oncology, emergency medicine and anesthesiology. “These patients' complications can range from a miscarriage to heavy bleeding, from placental abruption to a stroke from severe preeclampsia – and doctors and health professionals in emergency departments must be allowed to use the full range of medical options to save these patients' lives, including abortion.”

The case is one of two abortion-related challenges the court has heard this term, and one of the first since the overturn of Roe v. Wade in the 2022 Dobbs v. . A decision is expected this June. 

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The court has held that, while this case is pending, the federal government cannot enforce EMTALA in Idaho. As a result, patients in the midst of medical emergencies have flown to Utah — the next closest state with abortion access — to receive treatment.

Abortions that would be covered by EMTALA constitute only a tiny fraction of terminations performed in the United States. Still, the case has sparked tremendous concern among physicians. 

“If someone is having a crisis and part of the treatment involves an abortion — or any procedure or intervention that might be deemed an abortion by a prosecutor down the road — that is something we shouldn't have to think about,” said Dr. Rob Davidson, a Michigan-based emergency physician and the committee's executive director. “When I have a pregnant woman having a crisis, my first call should be to an OB, and not a lawyer.”

It's not clear how the Supreme Court will rule, but their decision could have implications well beyond abortion. Already, the fear of violating strict abortion bans has deterred aspiring and practicing physicians from setting up shop in states with such laws — particularly in Idaho, which has seen an exodus of maternal-fetal medicine specialists in the almost two years since Roe's fall. Physicians in the state worry a court finding in favor of Idaho might exacerbate that trend. 

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Legal scholars say that if the court finds EMTALA does not protect abortion as one form of emergency medical care, states could subsequently restrict other treatments — undercutting the law's core holding that patients who present at emergency rooms are guaranteed to at least receive stabilizing treatment.

“The basis of Dobbs is states have the power to regulate medical care. If you extend that to EMTALA, you open up EMTALA to whatever drama a state wants to play out in its emergency rooms,” Sara Rosenbaum, a professor emerita of health law and policy at George Washington University who has written extensively about EMTALA, told The 19th last month.

This could theoretically include prohibiting hospitals from providing emergency care for patients with HIV or substance use disorder — treatment they would ordinarily be required to provide.

“What if someone says, ‘We don't believe in harm reduction programs for opioid use disorder, so we don't think we should provide naloxone kits when patients the ER?'” Davidson asks. “This is bad enough that I don't have to imagine what could happen next, or what else they could carve out. But you're opening a Pandora's box.”

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This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Mississippi Today

FBI raids Hinds County DA’s business, office

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mississippitoday.org – Jerry Mitchell – 2024-05-22 11:01:00

On Wednesday morning, the FBI raided a cigar business owned by District Attorney Jody Owens II as well as his office at the courthouse.

Cigar Company is located just blocks from the Hinds County Courthouse, where Owens serves as prosecutor.

“The FBI is executing federal search warrants at multiple locations,” FBI spokeswoman Marshay Lawson said in a statement. “The affidavit in of the search warrants has been sealed by the court, and so I am prohibited from commenting further. There is no threat to public safety.”

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Owens was not available at his office and did not return emails or phone calls.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Crooked Letter Sports Podcast

Podcast: Tournament time for Mississippi baseball.

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The SEC Tournament is underway in Birmingham. The Sun Belt Tournament has begun in Montgomery. And, closer to home, the MHSAA Tournament has begun at Trustmark in Pearl. The Cleveland have on all of it, but not before Tyler tells his dad, “See, I told you so.”

Stream all episodes here.


This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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