Legislators have publicly denounced a Mississippi state representative calling for the lynching of Louisiana leaders who support removing the Confederate monuments in New Orleans, following an online diatribe in which he invokes America’s legacy of racial terror and inequality.
In a recent Facebook post, Mississippi Republican lawmaker Karl Oliver said that these statues were “erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans,” calling their removal “heinous” and “horrific.” Three centrally-located monuments to the Confederacy were taken down in New Orleans in the last few weeks after being criticized for lionizing and celebrating white supremacy.
“If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, ‘leadership’ of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED! Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our State,” Oliver wrote. His post has since been deleted following an uproar from Republican and Democrat state representatives in Mississippi.
Oliver represents the 46th district of Mississippi, which encompasses the town of Money in Leflore County where 14-year-old Emmett Till was infamously murdered in 1955 by a white mob. Leflore County was the most active lynching county in Mississippi, with 48 racial terror lynchings recorded between 1877 and 1950. During this period, 654 African Americans were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death in Mississippi, which has the highest rate of African American lynching victims in the South. EJI has documented more than 4000 African Americans lynched throughout the South during the era of racial terror.
Oliver’s remarks invoke our inability to confront the legacy of lynching and America’s history of racial inequality. Many communities like New Orleans where racial terror lynchings took place have erected markers and monuments that memorialize the Confederacy, during which power was violently reclaimed by white Southerners. Very few monuments or memorials address the history of lynching and its impact on race relations in these communities.
“On the question of the Confederacy and the architects and defenders of white supremacy, there should be no debate. We cannot move forward if we actually think there is something acceptable about honoring that legacy,” said EJI’s Executive Director Bryan Stevenson in a recent interview with PBS Newshour.
EJI is working to foster national conversation about the legacy of racial terror in America today. Next year, EJI will open a national lynching memorial that will commemorate over 4000 African Americans whose lives were lost to racial terror, in addition to a racial justice museum that will trace a direct line from America’s history of slavery to lynching, segregation, and mass incarceration.