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Celebrating the Confederacy in Philadelphia, MS

Philadelphia, MS sure knows how to put on a party for the Confederacy.

Back in July, I noted that Philadelphia restored a statue of a Confederate soldier to the lawn of the Neshoba County Courthouse. This Saturday, Philadelphia will hold a special ceremony to dedicate the restored monument during the town's annual Autumnfest.

This year's Autumnfest festival will not only include music, food and art contests but also a special ceremony officially dedicating the newly restored Confederate monument on the courthouse lawn.

The dedication will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21 and will feature a bagpiper and a Civil War reenactment troop.

All other Autumnfest activities will stop during that time so the ceremony will not be interrupted, Arts Council Executive Director Sharon Deweese said.

Edward Sebesta recently wrote:

Neo-Confederate politics is a program of a separtist [sic] nationalism of a Confederate identified region with a Confederate civil religion.

This isn't a Council of Conservative Citizens barbecue. It is an official city-of-Philadelphia-sponsored celebration of separatist nationalism, a celebration of racism and slavery.

The Confederate Monument returned to the Neshoba County Courthouse this summer, just after the one year anniversary of the conviction of Edgar Ray Killen on manslaughter charges for the murders of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman. At about the same time, Mississippi State Senator Gloria Williamson (D-Philadelpiha) began a public campaign with James E. Prince III (editor and publisher of the Neshoba Democrat) and others to bring a proposed Mississippi civil rights museum to Philadelphia.

"The Killen trial brought to the attention of everyone about the need to acknowledge our past rather than run from it," Williamson said.

"It made more people aware that we needed such a museum. It had a great deal to do with attention on the civil rights era and I suspect Neshoba County will be a lead character at the museum."

Following one of Killen's several failed attempts to get out of prison on an appeal bond, Susan Glisson, director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, said:

It's interesting ... Forty-one years ago the police department was involved in a conspiracy to murder these three young men. The fact that members of that same police department are now involved in putting Mr. Killen back in jail is indicative of how far this community has come.

Too many people are buying what Susan Glisson, Gloria Williamson, James Prince and others are selling as racial progress in Philadelphia.

In the past I've noted that while James Prince was calling for justice for Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, he was actually more concerned about the feelings of a Klansman than he was about the feelings of Ben Chaney, brother of the one African American victim in that crime.

In fact, it seems everywhere you look, prominent whites who promote racial reconciliation and justice in Neshoba County have yet to truly divest themselves from white separatist nationalism. Take former Neshoba Democrat editor and publisher Stanley Dearman, widely credited with leading the way to the prosecution of Edgar Ray Killen: in 1989, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Neshoba murders, he published an interview he did with Carolyn Goodman, mother of Andrew; in 2000, in his final editorial before he handed the Neshoba Democrat over to James Prince, Dearman wrote:

This is a case that never goes away for the reason that it has never been dealt with in the way it should have been. It’s time to bring a conclusion by applying the rule of law.

Yet Stanley Dearman is also a member of the Neshoba County Monument Restoration Committee, which raised the $13,500 that was needed to restore the monument to the Neshoba County Courthouse lawn. I wonder if Mr. Dearman will be speaking at the dedication this Saturday.

Dearman concluded his 2000 editorial saying, "Come hell or high water, it’s time for an accounting."

Amen, Mr. Dearman. Amen.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • DeWayne Key October 31, 2006, 10:12 am

    Reconciliation never comes until there first comes an acknowledgement that the cultural mindset glorifying the lost cause is totally counterproductive and wrong. If we celebrate the culture that went to war for the preservation of “the way of life” (read culture of slavery), we are failing to acknowledge that our celebrated forebears were wrong.

    Not helpful.

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