Statue of racist ex-Gov. Bilbo quietly moved in Mississippi

Feb 3, 2022, 6:02 PM | Updated: 6:06 pm
FILE - A statue of the late Gov. Theodore Gilmore Bilbo stands out from the back of a first floor c...

FILE - A statue of the late Gov. Theodore Gilmore Bilbo stands out from the back of a first floor conference room at the Capitol Jan. 22, 2009 in Jackson, Miss. A statue of white supremacist former Mississippi Gov. Theodore Bilbo was quietly moved out of sight in the state Capitol in recent months -- a move praised by Black lawmakers who say a politician who built a career on racist rhetoric never deserved a place of prominence.(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A statue of white supremacist former Mississippi Gov. Theodore Bilbo has quietly been moved out of sight in the state Capitol — a move praised by Black lawmakers who say he never deserved a place of prominence.

Bilbo was a Democrat who blasted racist rhetoric. He was governor for the 1916-20 and 1928-32 terms and was in the U.S. Senate from 1935 until his death in 1947.

The bronze statue of Bilbo stood prominently at the center of the state Capitol for decades. After the building underwent extensive renovations in the 1980s, the statue was moved to a first-floor committee room.

Democratic Rep. Kabir Karriem, a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, said its lingering presence was “very offensive” in a state where nearly 40% of residents are Black.

Legislators have been meeting since early January, and it’s only in recent days that people have begun noticing Bilbo was nowhere in sight.

The statue is approximately life-sized, at 5 feet, 2 inches (158 centimeters). It was not a revered art piece: People sometimes hung their coats or purses on its outstretched arm.

House Speaker Philip Gunn said he was unaware the statue had been moved until Thursday, when someone asked him about it. He said he does not know where it is.

“I have not verified anything,” Republican Gunn said. “We’ll look into it and see.”

Statues of Confederate soldiers and generals have been removed from public display in several places across the South in recent years amid debates about how the U.S. should acknowledge troubling parts of its history.

In the summer of 2020, Mississippi legislators voted to retire the last state flag in the U.S. that prominently featured the Confederate battle emblem. Months later, voters approved a new Mississippi flag without Confederate imagery.

Another member of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, Democratic Rep. Ed Blackmon of Canton, said that when he was first elected to the House in 1979, the Bilbo statue was still in the rotunda.

“That’s the first person I met when I came to the Capitol,” Blackmon said Thursday. “I said, ‘My God. Bilbo.'”

During Bilbo’s last campaign in 1946, a group of Black Mississippi residents filed a petition with the U.S. Senate, saying Bilbo had used “inflammatory appeals” to white people and incited violence that discouraged Black voters from participating in the Democratic primary, according to the U.S. Senate. A bipartisan group of senators traveled to Mississippi to hear testimony. A majority of them sided with Bilbo and said he should be seated, but a minority wrote a report saying Bilbo had used “vile, contemptible, inflammatory and dangerous language.”

The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus often meets in the room where the Bilbo statue stood.

“I really looked at it the same way I looked at the flag,” Blackmon said. “It was a symbol of this state’s ideas about inferiority of Black people. He used my folk as a stepping stone to higher office.”

____

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A customer pumps gas at an Exxon gas station, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Miami. Gasoline prices are ...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: How is inflation affecting commuting costs?

NEW YORK (AP) — Gas prices have fallen from the record highs they reached earlier this summer, but they’re still much higher than a year ago. And with inflation driving up the cost of pretty much everything else, finding the funds to cover your commute may be increasingly tricky. “Being able to get to work […]
8 hours ago
FILE - The price of regular unleaded gas is advertised for just under $4 a gallon at a Woodman's, W...
Associated Press

Tips for saving on your commute amid high inflation

NEW YORK (AP) — Gas prices are falling but still higher than they were a year ago. And inflation has made most everything else more expensive. If you’re looking to save money on your commute, here are some tips: IF YOU HAVE A CAR: MAKE A DRIVING STRATEGY AAA recommends avoiding traffic and adjusting your […]
8 hours ago
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts a reception for the winners of the Points of Light Awa...
Associated Press

UK meets energy firms but no help yet for hard-hit consumers

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior ministers held inconclusive talks Thursday with energy companies amid mounting pressure to help residents cope with soaring gas and electricity prices. Johnson, who is in his final weeks as prime minister, joined Treasury chief Nadhim Zahawi and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng at the meeting with […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Taliban say bombing kills prominent Afghan cleric in Kabul

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A bombing killed a prominent Taliban cleric on Thursday at his religious center in the Afghan capital of Kabul, authorities said, the latest attack to strike the country in the year since the former insurgents seized power. Officials identified the cleric as Rahimullah Haqqani, a name that signifies he graduated from Darul […]
8 hours ago
FILE - A screen displays market data at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 10...
Associated Press

Growth in corporate profits may not be as strong as it seems

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street’s big gains this summer have been spread widely across industries. The profit growth helping to underpin those gains? Not so much. Roughly 90% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their second quarter results, and their earnings per share are nearly 8% higher from year-ago levels in […]
8 hours ago
Resorts casino president Mark Giannantonio speaks at a press conference at his casino in Atlantic C...
Associated Press

New leader takes helm at Atlantic City casino trade group

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The trade group for Atlantic City’s nine casinos named a veteran casino executive as its new president on Thursday. Mark Giannantonio has more than 35 years experience in the casino industry, and has been president and CEO of Resorts casino since 2012. Before that, he was president and CEO of […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Statue of racist ex-Gov. Bilbo quietly moved in Mississippi