/Andrew Ketchings takes credit for moving Bilbo statue out of public view

Andrew Ketchings takes credit for moving Bilbo statue out of public view

Since the 1950s, Bilbo, who was known for his extremist views and rhetoric, has been honored with a monument in the Mississippi Capitol. Many Black legislators have long called for the removal the Bilbo statue. They claimed it was insensitive that such a vocal white supremacist should be one of two governors memorialized in the Capitol. Ketchings stated Wednesday that “Because he stood for everything, I believe this should have happened years ago.” “It was far too late to do it,” Ketchings said. The Bilbo statue is now in a closet on the House side, wrapped in fire retardant and locked in the closet. Ketchings refused to open the room. Mississippi Today reported last Wednesday that Bilbo’s statue was not in Room 113 of Capitol’s state Capitol. This is the largest House committee room and it has been there since the 1980s. No one publicly took responsibility last week for the incident. House Speaker Philip Gunn, and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann were among the legislative leaders. Delbert Hosemann said that they didn’t even know the statue was missing. Ketchings stated that it was 100% his decision. He also said that he didn’t inform any legislative leaders about the plan. Ketchings stated that he told the House leadership that he had moved the statue. Ketchings stated that House leaders didn’t seem to be inclined to make the statue visible to the public. Instead, he hired a team with state funds from the Department of Finance and Administration to move a bronze statue over a weekend in October. He said that the cost was between $4,000 to $5,000. READ MORE: Bilbo missing from Capitol Statue missing from Capitol of former racist governor The bronze statue, which stands 5 feet 2 inches high, is said to be life-sized. Ketchings stated that it is not uncommon for him to take decisions on maintenance in the rooms of the Capitol under his control as House clerk. Ketchings, in his role as House clerk over the past few years, has restored the chairs and changed the carpet in room 113. Ketchings didn’t move the statue sooner because he couldn’t find a storage space suitable for it. Ketchings stated that the statue wouldn’t fit through many doors within the building. In 1947, Bilbo succumbed to throat cancer. His colleague tried to prevent him from being seated in the U.S. Senate following his latest election win. Soon after his death, the Mississippi Legislature adopted a joint resolution in 1948 to establish a commission to honor Bilbo. This was in response to efforts by his colleague to not seat him in the U.S. Senate following his most recent election victory. William Winter in 1980s. The resolution requires that the statue be placed on the “first floor of the new Capitol Building.” Ketchings stated that he doesn’t know if it is still binding but decided to keep the statue there as per the resolution. A bust of Thomas Bailey (the 1940s governor) was also moved from room 113 to the state Department of Archives and History. Other than the Lt. Governor’s bust, there are no other statues at the Capitol. Evelyn Gandy, second floor Senate committee room. Gandy has served in many public offices throughout Mississippi and is the only woman in Mississippi to be elected to the statewide office. The Capitol has portraits of all the governors, Bilbo included. To oversee the day to day operations of the chamber, the clerk is elected by the House Members. Since Gunn was elected speaker in 2012 Ketchings has served as the House clerk. He is the first Republican to be the chamber’s presiding officer since the 1800s. Ketchings was previously a House representative for Adams County. He also served in the governor’s office. Haley Barbour administration. The statue was prominently displayed in the Capitol Rotunda for many years. However, it was moved to a different location during Capitol renovations in the 1980s. William Winter moved it to room 113. Room 113 wasn’t used as often as it is today. The room is used by multiple House committees. The room is also home to the Legislative Black Caucus as well as the Republican caucus. Bilbo was elected governor for two terms. He was then elected to the U.S. Senate in the 1930s. There he opposed anti-lynching laws and advocated deportation for Blacks to Africa. Bilbo stated that if you block the Senate’s passage of anti-lynching legislation, it will cause the South to flood with hell. Raping, mobbing and lynching, as well as race riots and crime, will increase a thousandfold. Your garments, along with those of others who were responsible for passing the measure, will bear the blood of the raped, outraged Dixie daughters, as well the blood of the perpetrators.