Thad: A Friend to Black Voters
I have been hearing all the talk concerning Democrats, particularly African Americans, being paid to vote for Thad Cochran in the Republican runoff or that they were influenced to vote by a few self-appointed black leaders. Those are the farthest things from the truth.
African Americans voted for Sen. Cochran because he has been a friend to black Mississippians. Black Mississippians who voted for Thad in the runoff came out to vote as a way of saying thanks to him for what he has done for the black community.
If you go back over the last two times Thad has run, you will find that Congressman Bennie Thompson has received far more votes in the general election in the 2nd Congressional District than the Democratic candidate for Thad's seat. That is because many black voters cast a vote for Bennie and a vote for Thad and will do so again this November.
Sen. Cochran has been a senator for all Mississippians, Republican and Democrat, black and white. I have personally known Thad for over 30 years and like so many other black Mississippians, have found him open and responsive to the needs of our community. There have been many projects at the state's HBCUs for which Thad has secured funding. The revitalization of the Jackson Mall to become the Medical Mall came from funding Thad secured. The Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center's building on Northside Drive was built with funds Thad secured.
Black Mississippians are not stupid or unappreciative. They do not forget who came through for them. Nor would they let a man who wants to go back to the "good old days," which were not so good for black people, take Thad's seat. We did not need to be paid nor have any self-appointed black leaders tell us how to vote. We know how to support those who support us.
William H. Dilday Jr., Jackson
No Assault on 'Religious Liberty'
As a lifelong United Methodist, I am deeply distressed about the current use of religion as a cover for prejudice and discrimination. And it is nothing short of surreal that the Supreme Court has now ruled that corporations have religious values, and those fictitious corporate religious values trump the health needs of their real live human female employees.
Mississippi's so-called "religious liberty" bill (SB 2681) was completely unnecessary as—contrary to those who claim it is needed—there is no assault on Christianity, which continues its reign as this country's dominant religion. Examples of recent religious assaults in our country are those perpetrated against mosques and synagogues. This move for so-called "religious liberty" is religious cover for those who want to discriminate.
The Hobby Lobby case is unbelievable in that the U.S. Supreme Court has now weighed in on this trend. That corporate claims of religious liberty can now provide legal cover for-profit motivations of prejudice, misogyny, discrimination and cheap labor is outrageous.
I grew up in a church that calls believers to live in witness of social justice, equity and compassion. Those of us in my church and the Christian faith-at-large who respond to that call have acquiesced and remained too silent while political agendas have used the worst and most base elements of human nature to fuel prejudicial assaults and divisions in the name of religion. Those of us who claim the Christian faith and also believe in justice and compassion should rise up and give voice to the sinfulness of this inexcusable use of the Christian faith.
Rev. Carol Burnett, Ocean Springs
Enough Talk About Emmett Till
In your recent GOOD Ideas edition (July 2-8, 2014), activism is again demanded. A group of like-minded liberals doing the supposed good work of social justice is highlighted. One of the activists ends his talks with the lynching of Emmett Till to motivate the political base. Not a single spot in your paper was focused on the real problems with deteriorating urban areas like Jackson—and those problems are moral decay and crime.
No activists, young or old, are called to face the criminals that rule most of the city. The reason why Jackson is seeing workers and businesses flee is crime. Everyone knows that Jackson is dangerous, and so do you. However, you proclaim the message to blacks that's "it's not your fault." This is not going to make crime go away; it will only make it worse. Demanding those doing the crime face punishment is the answer.
Besides Emmett Till, black activists should be equally outraged by Armon Burton. This truly innocent 3-year-old didn't whistle at a white woman and get lynched, he was killed after his house was sprayed with 30 bullets. Unlike 60 years ago with Till, there has been no trial or even an arrest in Armon's sad case. Because Armon's cold-blooded killers were not rednecks or Klansmen, but known locals, almost certainly black gangsters, there has been no public outcry for justice, and no protest marches in the neighborhood or at City Hall. Jackson IS moving forward—over the abyss.
Fred McMurray, Brandon
Politics at State Hospital
Thanks to Anna Wolfe for continuing to expose the problems at the Mississippi State Hospital ("Mental Health in Limbo?" July 9-15, 2014). It is a serious problem when politics lead to the closing of the Community Services Division, which had provided outpatient care for those with mental disabilities. Certainly the director of Guided Steps Healthcare should have been vetted for competence before MSH issued a contract to it to provide outpatient care and transfer of MSH's community-based patients.
Mississippi does have an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide adequate, community-based mental health care. Clients and their families deserve no less.
Joe Roberts, Jackson
Editor's note: Read the GOOD Ideas: Young Activists online at jfp.ms/activism. JFP summer interns compiled the issue in honor of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer.