Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared that April is the "Month of Unity" in Mississippi, departing from past years when he declared April "Confederate Heritage Month."
He made the declaration at the behest of Unite Mississippi, a Flowood-based nonprofit that focuses on racial and social reconciliation among Mississippi's Christians. On Monday, the group announced Bryant's declaration, as well as their "A Night of Unity Event," which they described as a worship concert and "crusade" that will take place at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium on April 27.
Within an hour of Unite Mississippi's announcement, though, Bryant launched a Twitter salvo, accusing Columbus-based Commercial Dispatch columnist Slim Smith of "a cowardly act of hate" and "a new low in racial politics."
Last week, Smith compared Mississippi State Auditor Shad White, whom Bryant appointed, to the segregationist Citizens' Council after White released a study that some education advocates saw as an attack on public schools. During the 1960s and '70s, the Council notoriously fought orders for public schools to desegregate by attacking the schools and pushing for state funds for all-white private schools.
Rep. Anderson: Gov. Bryant Has Done 'Little' to Achieve Unity
On Monday, Democratic Mississippi state Rep. Jeramey Anderson, who is an African American from Moss Point, criticized Bryant's "Month of Unity" proclamation. In a press statement, he called the move "hollow," and pointed out Bryant's history of declaring April Confederate Heritage Month.
"I welcome Unity Month, but if the governor truly wants to unify the people of Mississippi, he would show it by joining the battle to give Mississippi a more unifying flag," Anderson said, referring to the fact that Bryant opposes changing the state flag to remove its Confederate imagery. "The present flag only serves to remind African Americans in this state that the state once allowed their ancestors to be held as slaves and