“Words matter”: ACLU holds forum on race relations in Mississippi

“Words matter”: ACLU holds forum on race relations in Mississippi

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The ACLU of Mississippi held a forum on racism in America, called ‘A Front Row Seat’.

Executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, Jennifer Riley-Collins, called Hyde-Smith remarks last weeks a “punch in the gut.”

The forum gave several high profile members of the ACLU a chance to highlight the history of racism in the country.

It also gave examples of racial policies that affect Mississippi today.

According to the ACLU, they put on this event as a response to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s remarks on voter suppression and being in the front row of a public hanging.

“We put this event on as a response. Not a reaction, but a response to the repugnant statements that are made by a sitting senator," said Riley-Collin. “The ACLU was really concerned about how Mississippi was left looking, not only to the rest of the country, but how did that land on citizens in the state of Mississippi.”

Jeff Robinson, the deputy legal director and the director of the ACLU, outlined the history of words and racism in America.

The director brought up everything, from the third verse of the national anthem to the history of racism with former presidents.

His motto for the evening was “words matter,” which was very evident, since the topic of Senator Hyde-Smith comments made last week was a focal point to the forum.

“When our senator said that she would be comfortable sitting on the front row of a public hanging, or that she would suppress votes at those other schools, we know that those are code words for lynching and for historically black colleges and universities,” said Riley-Collins.

The ACLU invited Wenator Hyde-Smith, but she chose not to attend the event.

The ACLU had two reserved spots for the senator, one in the front row, and one on stage.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy will be debating on Tuesday, November 20, exclusively on WLBT.

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