Under radical reconstruction, the Mississippi would become a center of black power and black progress. As the Mississippi Historical Society reports, at least 226 black Mississippi people held public office during reconstruction, compared to just 46 blacks in Arkansas and 20 in Tennessee.
But, these provisions still did not prove strong enough to guarantee the black vote, so the 15th Amendment was passed on February 3, 1870. Later that month, Mississippi was readmitted to the union. Two days later, the first black senator in American history, Hiram Revels, was sworn in to the seat vacated by Jefferson Davis.
But 1870 was also the year the Ku Klux Klan really became active in Mississippi. The Mississippi Encyclopedia recounts one of the most infamous episodes of terrorist groups:
On March 8, 1871, the Mississippi Klansmen also rioted in Meridian, garnering national attention and helping to instigate federal intervention to control Klan activity. The riot began during the trial of three men accused of inflammatory speech after publicly promoting the organization of black militias as a means of resisting the vigilantism of the Klan. The courtroom, filled with armed Klans men, sparked violence, shots were fired and three people, including the presiding judge, were killed. Chaos spread to the streets, where white mobs beat and killed suspected black leaders, thwarting any emerging black resistance.
The following month, Congress passed the last of its Ku Klux Klan laws, the one used against Trump and Guiliani.
For me, the similarities are striking.
Millions of people are in the country without citizenship until it is granted.
The white population is increasingly apoplectic of being outnumbered and outnumbered.
We fear displacement in all its forms.
There is a vigorous effort by white supremacists to suppress black votes, including using the law to do so.
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