Social media is rapidly spreading a video of Republican Senator Cindy Hyde Smith. Critics claim her comments invoke Mississippi’s history of lynching. The video was posted by Lamar White Jr. (publisher and founder of The Bayou Brief), a non-profit news organization based out of Louisiana, just before 8 AM on Sunday. White is described as “one of Louisiana’s most acclaimed online journalist and prominent progressive activist.” White posted the video just before 8 a.m. on Sunday. White stated that he had not seen the entire recording. Hyde-Smith claimed she was referring specifically to an invitation for a speaking engagement. Hyde-Smith stated in a statement that she used an exaggerated expression to refer to the person who invited her. Any attempt to make this a negative connotation was absurd. However, the campaign of Democrat Mike Espy (African American) saw the statement differently. Espy will be facing Hyde-Smith in a upcoming runoff election. Danny Blanton, the spokesperson for the Espy campaign, said that Cindy Hyde-Smith’s remarks were “reprehensible” in a statement sent out to media outlets. They are not welcome in the political discourse in Mississippi or in America. We need leaders, not divisions. Her words demonstrate that she does not have the ability to understand and judge the people of Mississippi. Espy was elected the first African American congressman from Mississippi in modern times and later became the first African-American agriculture secretary for the United States under President Bill Clinton. Espy, if he succeeds in his bid against Hyde Smith, would become the first African American to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Republican Governor. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde Smith to the Senate as an interim appointment. He did not respond immediately to a request to comment. This video controversy comes just days after a Memphis hospital employee who was wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt with a hangman’s knot and the words “Mississippi Justice”, went viral online. Many people in Mississippi and elsewhere are triggered by the memory of Mississippi’s past of racism. Public hangings were an official state method of capital punishment in Mississippi for many decades. According to newspaper archives, Hilton Fortenberry was the last person to be publicly hanged in Mississippi. He was hanged in Jefferson Davis County in 1940. Mississippi is known for allowing citizens and white mobs to execute extrajudicial lynchings against African Americans. According to the comprehensive report by the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, Mississippi saw more lynchings. There were 654 reported Mississippi lynchings, many of which were openly disclosed. The EJI report states that large numbers of whites participated in the prolonged torture, mutilation and burning at stake of black victims at these festive community gatherings. Derrick Johnson (the president of NAACP), a Mississippian native, made a comparison between Hyde Smith’s comments and the state’s violent past. Johnson stated in a Sunday statement that Hyde-Smith’s joke about “hanging” when the history is littered by numerous instances of this barbarous act is sick. “… Anyone who wants to be the voice for Mississippi should know better. Johnson stated that Johnson’s choice of words is a reflection of Johnson’s lack of judgment, as well as her lack empathy and lack character. Whites often lynch African Americans who try to register or vote. A white man shot and killed Lamar Smith, a civil rights activist, in broad daylight in front of the Lincoln County courthouse in Brookhaven. This is where Senator Hyde-Smith resides. Hyde-Smith, Espy will be fighting in an officially nonpartisan special elections to fill the vacant seat left by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran who retired earlier this month. Hyde-Smith, Espy and four other candidates received more votes on Nov. 6 than the total number of candidates. They will be the only candidates on the November 27 runoff ballot because no candidate received more than 50 percent of votes. Corey Wiggins is the executive director of Mississippi NAACP and called Senator Hyde-Smith’s comments disgusting. He said he hopes they will inspire voters to go to the polls Nov. 27. It speaks to the public discourse. People can use such rhetoric and be empowered without having any context. Wiggins stated that they are not speaking in an inclusive way for all Americans. It’s almost like the country is at an ethical and cultural crossroads. R.L. Contributing. Nave Click here to see Mississippi Today’s complete coverage of the historic runoff between Cindy Hyde Smith and Mike Espy. To support this work, make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today. This will allow us to continue important work such as this story.