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  Welcome Politics 1.swf Posted October 19, 2011                                              For Endorsement in PDF format


Johnny DuPree represents symbolism and substance. Mississippi has the opportunity to show the world and the rest of the country that it can transform itself from a negative symbol to a positive substance if it were to elect DuPree as its first African American governor.

DuPree himself could not have said it better when on the 9/11 commemoration stated: “… I was honored to receive two pieces of the World Trade Center. It was a moving ceremony in which we dedicated those two standards of hope and freedom to the University of Southern Mississippi for a 9/11 memorial that will be built on campus. It was a reminder that above all that divides us in this nation, we are bound stronger together by our national pride. We are Americans. We live in a nation defended by the blood, sweat, tears and lives of brave men and women willing to lay down their lives to protect ours, to ensure our freedom and to ensure we live in a society where fear bows to freedom.”

The word “Mississippi” can be duly substituted in place of “nation” in the second paragraph of DuPree’s statement, and we dare use poetic license to do it: “It was a reminder that above all that divides us in Mississippi, we are bound stronger together by our state pride. We are Mississippians. We live in a state defended by the blood, sweat, tears and lives of brave men and women willing to lay down their lives to protect ours, to ensure our freedom and to ensure we live in a Mississippi where fear bows to freedom.”

For too long, Mississippi has been a symbol of days that should have ‘gone with the wind.

Mississippi has taken the blame for and borne the brunt of  a national problem that had the federal government taken steps in true constitutional spirit of enforcing  the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments in the 19th Century, race would not have  reared its hind legs to kick us in the posterior in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Mississippians know that Boston, Massachusetts had its share of racial strife; Mississippians know that Los Angeles, California had its racial strife; Mississippians know that Detroit, Michigan has had its racial strife; Mississippians know that Washington, D.C. had its racial strife.  Yet, it has been Mississippi which has endured the ridicule and the hostility as the symbol of a nation divided into a house of black and white.

The Democratic Party in Mississippi once epitomized that same house divided in black and white. History now understands Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer’s disappointment in a major political party that did not celebrate diversity. Surely, she is somewhere in heaven smiling down on Johnny DuPree having triumphed as the party’s first African American gubernatorial candidate since Reconstruction. In 1964, such a possibility did not exist when her Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party attempted to bridge a divided house at the Democratic National Convention.

To his credit, Republican rival Phil Bryant acknowledged in a debate held on October 14, 2011 that he was proud to be part of this turning point in Mississippi of having an African American on a major party ticket. Bryant made his remarks openly and unashamedly. This in itself would have been something unheard of in the last century, and Bryant’s white skin would have been tarred and feathered and run out of the state on a mobile cotton gin.

Today, Mississippi is as much a part of global economization as any other state—as any other nation. Manufacturers from other countries have come into the state and created jobs; companies from other states have come in and created jobs. CBS’ Sunday Morning show recently did an in-depth piece on Desoto County being among the fastest growing areas in the country. Tunica, Mississippi has gone from being the poorest area in the entire nation to being one of the most prosperous in producing jobs.

 DuPree, who is also Hattiesburg’s first African American mayor, recently saw to the creation of over 1,000 jobs when California-based Stion laid groundwork to manufacture solar panels. This is only one aspect of an ongoing economic agenda he created in Hattiesburg that has brought him local and national accolades.

 Change has come kicking and screaming with profound economic implications.

Profound economic implications automatically mean profound change in Mississippi’s educational system.

“We have to show that we respect our teachers and that we’re serious about paying them a competitive wage,” DuPree said. “This is a step in that direction. It’s something that sets them apart and shows our commitment to them.”

 DuPree’s 21st century vision for education has its roots in the past.  Lest we forget, Mississippi along with the rest of the South created Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Though born out of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation, these colleges laid the foundation of America’s Black middle class. Even though Blacks might not have been allowed to attend most universities in the South and North, Black citizens maintained the “value” for education in spite of laws that forbade the learning of reading, ‘ritin, and ‘rithmetic.

To reiterate, we must remember that Mississippi has this rich history in education, starting with the venerable University of Mississippi (‘Ole Miss’) and a bastion of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,  such as Rust College (Holly Springs, MS), which remains as one of  only five Black colleges founded before 1867 that are still in existence. (Rust College was founded in 1866, shortly after the Civil War). Mississippi boasts of the oldest state supported college for women in the United States, Mississippi University of Women (MUW), which was founded in 1884 well before women got the right to vote and when women nationwide were regarded as not college worthy and should remain barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Mississippi is a state that boasts among the finest in literature such as Richard Wright, Eudora Welty, Percy Walker, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Shelby Foote, and Alice Walker who gave us the Pulitzer Prize- winning “The Color Purple” which begat the classic movie which showcased yet another popular Mississippian, Oprah Winfrey.

            A perspective can be a precarious entity; a dilemma can be a fixable circumstance.

All this is to say that ironically it has been Mississippi that laid the foundation for racial healing. It was the long walk James Meredith took to open the doors of Ole Miss that opened wider the doors of Northern colleges and universities; that opened wider the doors of Ivy League universities. It was the tragedy of Emmett Till and three brave civil rights workers in Philadelphia whose short lives put faces on a movement that could not be stopped.

            Had it not been for the dogs, the water hoses, the sit-ins, the marches, the sacrifices, and the blood that marred Mississippi soil, there would be no African American president. Had it not been for  Mississippi, the North could not have implemented its  sub-rosa Jim Crow laws and deny its own culpability in the role it, too, played in segregation; had it not been for Mississippi, a federal government would have continued to turn its back on constitutional law. Had it not been for Mississippi, the women’s movement would not have benefited from a 1964 Civil Rights law. Mississippi burned under the auspices of a nation that allowed it to for over 100 years while fueling Northern fires with hypocrisy in consenting silence.

            With so much good amidst so much strife, Mississippi has endured.

            Mississippi has endured to push forward the time when an African American can be and must be a symbol to break its own symbol of racial strife. Mississippi has endured to push forward an agenda on renewed education that will transcend race, color, creed and sex. Mississippi has endured to push forward an economic agenda to replace Cotton as King with technology, diversity, and respectability.

            Mississippi can no longer afford to serve as a symbol for what is wrong with America.

 Johnny DuPree becoming Mississippi’s first African American governor would be seen as monumental and economically prudent worldwide. His election will symbolize what can be right with America and what is right with America.           

We endorse Johnny DuPree for Governor of Mississippi. We endorse substance for Mississippi.