Mississippi was the crown jewel of white supremacy

From “US: The Resurrection of American Terror” by Rev. Kenneth W. Wheeler

Mississippi is a place of terror if you are Black, Terror reigns in every corner of the state. There are countless stories of Blacks who have been brutalized and killed for no reason other than the color of their skin.

In 1940, Willie Tingle, a Black man in Decatur, Mississippi, was dragged through the Black side of the city to the local fairgrounds where a white mob hung his body from a tree and then riddled it with bullets as punishment for allegedly whistling at a white woman. It was not inconsequential that Mr. Tingle was paraded through the Black side of town. His white accusers were sending a clear message to other Black men that they should keep their hands, their whistles, and their flirtations to themselves or they would suffer the same fate.

From 1877 to 1950 more than four thousand Black men, women, and children were lynched across the United States, according to a report by the Equal Justice Initiative (“Lynchings in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.” Eji,org). Five hundred and eighty-one of those lynchings occured in Mississippi. Lynchings were meant to intimidate and control Black people. It was the greatest form of terror. And those acts of terror were supported by government, police, the criminal justice system, and religion.

While I grew up in an all Black neighborhood, it was not uncommon to see white men ride around in their pickup trucks with the Confederate flag draping  the back window of those trucks, their rifles mounted in front of the flag. I remember seeing this as a boy. Everyone knew what that flag meant – what it symbolized. Yes, the Confederate flag was about Southern heritage, as some will argue, but the heritage was about keeping Mississippi shite and keeping Mississippi in the hands of white people. 

Those white men with their rifles mounted in the back windows of those trucks were committed to keeping Mississippi in the hands of white people, even if it meant having to kill people who sought to disrupt an oppressive system like Jim Crow, which enabled and perpetuated white rule and white control. Mississippi was the crown jewel of white supremacy.