The San Francisco Giants are in damage control after advocates became aware that one of the team’s owners recently donated to the re-election campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi.
Billionaire Charles Johnson and his wife donated $5,400 to the incumbent Republican, who faces a runoff election Tuesday. Hyde-Smith joked at a campaign rally this month about sitting on the front row of a public hanging. Johnson’s attorney, Joe Cotchett, told reporters Monday afternoon the retired businessman doesn’t have “a racist bone in his body” and was unaware of the controversy. This maybe true but in 2014, the state’s junior United States senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi posted on her facebook page as a then-state commissioner of agriculture and commerce, was photographed at the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, wearing a Confederate soldier’s hat. She even went further as to say regarding Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library “This is a must see,” she wrote. “Currently on display are artifacts connected to the daily life of the Confederate Soldier including weapons. Mississippi history at its best!”
The Jackson Free-Press reported that Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith attended Lawrence County Academy in Brookhaven, Mississippi, during the 1970s. The now shuttered school was founded in 1970 to flout the integration order and had a confederate general mascot, according to the local weekly. The 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education mandated that public schools in the United States desegregate and when Mississippi Gov. John Bell Williams, who historically supported segregationist policies, enforced the order in the winter of 1970, many families with bigoted mindsets in the state, begin to establish or enrolled their children in private academies, which remained predominantly segregated and became commonplace in the state. These academies created barriers for entry — whether monetary or through unstated discriminatory practices — that all students based on ethnicity could not overcome.
A 2012 Southern Education Foundation study found that while only 50.6 percent of school-age students in Mississippi are European descendants and nearly 87 percent of private school enrollment are European descendants, a stark contrast to their non European of 9 percent. “The most damning evidence of racism is the rise of the segregation academies in Mississippi just as school integration is taking place,” said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and an expert on American education and segregation.
At this point, this is no accident. Mississippi history holds many lessons, good and bad. That its white governors and their foot soldiers among the citizenry fought a war to preserve the routine bondage, forced labor, and torture of black men, women, and children, is among the most damning, even without the century of segregation and terrorism that followed. The “best” of that history has come when mostly non European Mississippians have fought back — people like Fannie Lou Hamer, James Meredith, and the civil-rights workers who flooded the state in the 1950s and 1960s to register segregated voters and subvert Jim Crow through protest. Both threads are well-known and ripe for dissection, including praise and critique. But neither is ambiguous in its morality.
In a statement issued Monday, Oakland attorney John Burris called for fans not to attend Giants games “as long as Charles Johnson is associated with the team.” Among the Giants ownership group, Johnson is one of the largest stakeholders.
“This is an issue that’s far greater than supporting a baseball team,” Burris said. “(It’s) where the owner’s values are totally inconsistent of this entire community and contemporary modern views of the social order.”
The team issued a statement saying it does not condone “racist and hateful language and behavior by anyone” and touting its many community outreach efforts.
However, the release also noted the Giants “have more than 30 owners” who “come from different backgrounds and have their own political views.”