/Attorney general candidate appears in college yearbook blackface skit, regrets portrayal

Attorney general candidate appears in college yearbook blackface skit, regrets portrayal

A 1979 Mississippi College yearbook photo shows Andy Taggart (an attorney and Republican who are vying to be the attorney general’s chair), performing a rush skit. A Mississippi Today source has sent the photo to us. It shows at least two people wearing blackface. Taggart appears to be a cowboy in this scene. The caption states that it is based upon Gunsmoke. Mississippi Today received the photo from Taggart on Wednesday. He said that he doesn’t recall the skit or photo, but that blackface was inappropriate. “The use blackface is clearly offensive for many people. It’s inappropriate, and I am sorry I was depicted in that manner,” Taggart said to Mississippi Today. Taggart already stated that racist symbols continue to be used in a way that is not consistent with modern values. Taggart told Mississippi Today last week that the Mississippi state flag, which is the last to include a Confederate emblem in it, should be replaced by one that “is unifying instead of dividing.” He is the most outspoken Republican running for office. Taggart stated that the flag was supposed to represent all Americans and be a banner of pride for all. Mississippi College doesn’t have traditional fraternities or sororities. Instead, it has five social “tribes,” for female students. These include Nenamoosha and Swannanoa, which aren’t Native American tribes. Taggart’s photo was taken at a rush event to support the Swannanoa tribe. A Democratic SuperPAC, which conducts political opposition research, published February’s photo on its website. It was posted by the Millsaps College Kappa Alpha Order chapter in the early 1990s when the current Lt. Governor was still active. Tate Reeves is running this year for governor. He was a member. Three members are seen with their faces painted. One is wearing dark-colored makeup and another sporting the stars-and bars pattern of the Confederate war flag. A second photo from the fraternity page shows a group dressed up as Confederate soldiers or planters. One of them is waving a Confederate flag. The same week, yearbook photos of students from Ole Miss’ Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity were also published. This fraternity was founded in 1980 by Attorney General Jim Hood. The picture shows several men with necklaces and holding sticks, with their faces painted in light and dark-colored paint. The right-hand man is wearing what appears like a white sheet, with holes for his eyes and mouth. Hood and Reeves spokespersons stated that they were not in the photos. However, such photos are not uncommon in Mississippi. Mississippi Today’s survey of college yearbooks in the 20th Century revealed that there were many objectionable photos at Mississippi universities. Other photos that feature blackface are also found in the Mississippi College yearbook, including one featuring Taggart. One photo shows two people in Klan robes, one showing a man in blackface seated next to another man wearing Native American garb. Another photo depicts a blackfaced female student with a maid. Taggart said that he didn’t remember blackface being a common feature at Mississippi College in the late 1970s when he was a student. Taggart stated that there is much to (Mississippi)’s past that is unattractive. He said that he has dealt with this issue throughout his career. “A photograph taken 40 years ago shows decisions made that day. If I had the chance to make that decision today, I would have not participated.” Lynn Fitch, State Treasurer, and Mark Baker (R-Brandon), are two other Republicans who have been qualified to run as Attorney General. Jennifer Riley Collins, executive Director of the Mississippi Chapter, American Civil Liberties Union has also qualified.