It did not please many white Mississippians when Ashton Pittman, my state reporter at the Jackson Free Press, wrote an in-depth news feature exposing U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s long-time connections to “segregation academies” in Mississippi, which she was pointedly leaving out of her bio (just as Gov. Phil Bryant avoids talking about his racist Citizens Council high school). As Ashton reveals, Hyde-Smith’s family’s devotion to such schooling dated back to the very year many of them opened—in 1970 just as the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Mississippi and other resistant states to fully integrate public schools nearly 20 years after the Brown v. Board decision. And, yes, they received public money then—as many still do now—despite the fact that very few children of color attend them today.
But many white Mississippians want to send their children to schools with this legacy, but not have anyone ever talk about the potential effects of it. This was part of an angry Facebook message a man I barely know sent to me after the story published and went viral:
Now that you have gotten your fifteen minutes from the national media on your pitiful hit piece on Cindy Hyde-Smith’s educational pedigree (keep in mind that I think CHS is a moron, I won’t be voting for her, and I think the 2nd Amendment should be repealed), I want to pass along my feelings it was unwarranted. She was sent to a school by her parents (not her fault) and then sent her children to a school that (like the VAST majority of private schools) is superior to the local public school.