A few days ago, the world learned that the state of Mississippi had gone along until this year without officially, finally ratifying the 13th Amendment. That's the one that banned slavery. If it weren't embarrassing enough that my home state's legislature failed to vote for ratification until 1995, the Mississippi Secretary of State at the time failed to send in the paperwork required to make their decision official.
I don't know how Secretary of State Dick Molpus, a Democrat, managed to botch that, by what means or combination of means. (Update from the comments: or -- wow -- didn't botch it.) But I have seen from back home signals that Molpus is not the cartoon character he's supposed to play on TV. Sarah Morice Brubaker of Religion Dispatches, for example, writes that we should all hope to be more like Molpus, not because of what he did wrong, but because of so much he has done right:
Molpus just keeps saying gutsy things -- like when he told a roomful of people, one of whom was Governor Haley Barbour:"Few politicians today use outright race baiting, but we see have some that use the symbols and utter the phrases and everyone knows what the code is."Oh, and he's also called attention to how voter ID laws endanger the voting rights of poor and elderly people, and was named a Champion of Justice by the Mississippi Center for Justice.
If you haven't seen Molpus' remarks on the murder of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, check them out. He challenges white people to take responsibility for their racism and get over it.
Saying that kind of thing in Mississippi cost him, in political terms. The price was worth it, for all of us trying to do better.