We are proud to report that the JFP acknowledged the burgeoning peace movement in Jackson before other local media. Hopefully, they'll all keep reporting that not everyone in Mississippi is behind the current war efforts. And don't miss Claretta Hasberry's Free Press Facts about James O. Eastland that appear at the end of this story.
A light drizzle didn't stop 21 dogged anti-war protesters from marching from Millsaps College to the James O. Eastland Federal Courthouse in Downtown on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Organized by the Greens of Jackson, the peaceniks — mostly students, but with gray heads sprinkled in — carried signs declaring opposition to the Bush administration's probably eminent attack on Iraq. "Study War No More," "Bush/Cheney Oil/Lust" and "Jesus Was a Pacifist" were the messages. They had hoped to converge with protesters from Jackson State, who didn't show.
Landon Huey, 27, organized the rally. He also started the first Green Party in Jackson back on Jan. 8, 2000 – Elvis' birthday: "It's a bit of synchronicity I'm proud of. I thought it was like a blessing." Huey hit upon the Greens idea while surfing the Internet at the Northside Library. The party's "10 key values" – diversity, social justice, grassroots, feminism, community, decentralization, environmentalism, nonviolence, responsibility and future focus – popped up on the screen at http://www.gp.org, "as I was looking up peace or something." He got excited: "Wow, this is the politics of love," he thought then.
Huey called the National Green Party, which put him in charge of local Greens. He starting hanging flyers, and got 30 people at his first meeting at Rainbow Co-op. The party is growing, with a few Greens in Tupelo, a handful in Oxford, a few in Starkville and a group on the coast. "We did have someone in Hattiesburg, but he moved," Huey said.
Huey knows getting a Green candidate elected in Mississippi may take a while, but he's determined. "I told everybody we were going to spread across the state like kudzu, and I'm sticking to it," he said, adding 8,000 Mississippians turned to vote for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election.
The Millsaps marchers gathered in front of the Federal Building, clustering around a lightpole with a metal sign proclaiming, "Site 22" on the Civil Rights Tour of Jackson. As the cardboard signs got soggy in the rain, the protesters, hesitatingly, broke into a rendition of "Down by the Riverside," as one male student with chin-length brown hair waved his peace sign at a teenage girl in a maroon Camry as she drove by. She honked her horn, giving a thumbs-up through her sun roof.
– Donna Ladd
Photo by Jaro Vacek
See: Green Party www.greenpartyus.org
Free Press Facts:
The "Jackson Civil Rights Movement Driving Tour" brochure says the following about Site No. 22: "Since Mississippi's state and local governments and judicial system were generally supportive of segregation in the 1960s, civil rights activists had to rely on the federal courts for justice. Freedom Riders' cases were appealed from this federal courthouse all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Because segregation had already been ruled unconstitutional, the cases dealt with the constitutionality of the arrests."
(Editor's note: The Free Press suspects that the tour's organizers are being extremely generous to the state with their place of the words "generally supportive" in this description.)
Senator James O. Eastland, the namesake of the Jackson federal courthouse building in Jackson, was elected in 1941 to the U.S. Senate. The Doddsville, Miss., native served as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and pro tempore of the Senate. Eastland was an adamant opponent of equal rights for blacks. He denied that the Ku Klux Klan ever existed in Mississippi and declared in 1964 that the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi was just a hoax. When the accused murderers went to federal court in Meridian (United States vs. Cecil Price et al.), the judge appointed to the case was Eastland's former Ole Miss roommate, William Cox. Eastland denounced Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregation in the public schools illegal in 1954. He told Mississippians: "You are not obliged to obey the decisions of any court which are plainly fraudulent." Eastland was an ally to Joseph McCarthy, who led the anti-Communist witch hunts of the 1960s. After McCarthy was discredited in 1954, Eastland tried to keep the scare alive by accusing newspapers, such as the New York Times, of being infiltrated by Communists. He subpoenaed 30 Times employees in order to get the Times to weaken its editorial stance that Mississippi should adhere to the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. He failed.
Eastland told the U.S. Senate in May 1954: "Segregation is desired and supported by the vast majority of the members of both of the races in the South, who dwell side by side under harmonious conditions." He was less tactful back home, however. He told the White Citizens Council (the "white-collar klan" formed to fight integration) in 1956: "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, slingshots and knives.... All whites are created equal with certain rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers."
-- Claretta Hasberry
Read more about Sen. James O. Eastland: