Cindy Hyde-Smith, the embattled GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in Mississippi, is in hot water again.
The Jackson Free-Press reported a story Friday that explored Hyde-Smith’s time at one of Mississippi’s so-called segregation academies—schools established throughout the South by white parents trying to avoid public school integration.
Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to fill Thad Cochrane’s Senate seat earlier this year, attended Lawrence County Academy. The school was established in 1970; Hyde-Smith entered in 1975 as a high school sophomore and graduated in 1977.
Although school segregation was declared unconstitutional under Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Mississippi public schools were only integrated under orders from the Supreme Court in 1969. According to the Free-Press, Mississippi Governor John Bell Williams ordered the schools integrated when children came back from Christmas break in 1970.
“So let us accept the inevitable that we are going to suffer one way or the other, both white and Black, as a result of the court’s decree,” he said at the time.
Former U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, who worked at Lawrence County Academy and coached Hyde-Smith in basketball, told the Free-Press that there was “no doubt” that the schools were set up for parents who didn’t want their kids to go to school with Black kids. In fact, after the forced integration in 1970, the Mississippi Legislature focused on supporting “school choice” for white parents. It even supported vouchers for parents to send their kids to white private schools.
This is just the latest raced-based scandal Hyde-Smith has faced this election season. In the past month, she has gotten in trouble for joking about lynching, which caused corporations to pull donations from her campaign, as well as wearing a Confederate costume, and advocating for voter suppression. She faces a runoff against Democrat Mike Espy, who is Black, on Nov. 27.
The Free-Press story includes photos of Hyde-Smith in Lawrence County Academy’s 1975 yearbook. The school’s mascot was Col. Rebel, and a photo of the cheerleading squad shows a girl dressed up in a Confederate costume and waving the stars and bars flag.
Of course, children can’t control where their parents send them to school, but Hyde-Smith apparently didn’t learn from her parents’ mistakes. Her own daughter graduated from Brookhaven Academy, another segregation academy set up in 1970, just last year.
Editor’s note: Cindy Hyde-Smith