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

Feb 3, 2022, 3:02 AM | Updated: 5:03 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:

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Respite center opens to families of those who died in combat

A respite center for families in the United States who have lost loved ones in combat since 9/11 will open Friday on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.
21 hours ago
Downtown Vancouver Washington Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Vancouver City Council bans large fossil fuel facilities

The city council in Vancouver, Washington, has approved a permanent ban on new fossil fuel developments after years of temporary moratoriums.
21 hours ago
Soccer fans chant slogans during vigil for the victims of Saturday's deadly crush, in Malang, East ...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Asia

Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2022 This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in Asia and the Pacific. The gallery was curated by AP photo editor Masayo Yoshida in Tokyo. Follow AP visual journalism: Instagram: AP Images on Twitter: AP Images blog: Copyright © […]
21 hours ago
FILE - A TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile launch with file fo...
Associated Press

US carrier, S Korea warships start new drills amid tensions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan launched a new round of naval drills with South Korean warships on Friday, a day after North Korea fired more ballistic missiles and flew warplanes in an escalation of tensions with its rivals. The Reagan and its battle group returned to the waters […]
21 hours ago
FILE - This undated photo released by the Arizona Attorney General's Office shows Guillermina Fuent...
Associated Press

Arizona woman seeks leniency in ballot harvesting case

PHOENIX (AP) — A parade of character witnesses provided a judge Thursday with glowing reports about a southern Arizona woman who admitted collecting four voted early ballots in the 2020 primary election, as her lawyer seeks leniency and prosecutors urge him to send her to prison for a year. Testimony in Yuma County Superior Court […]
21 hours ago
Leaders attend the Ministerial Meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group during the 52nd Ge...
Associated Press

Support for Venezuela’s opposition is dwindling at OAS

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Venezuela’s opposition suffered a rebuff Thursday as 19 members of the Organization of American States backed a proposal to remove its envoy from the regional forum for political and economic issues. Although the proposal failed to get the two-thirds marjority, or 24 votes, needed to be put on the agenda of […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Statue of racist ex-Gov. Bilbo quietly moved in Mississippi