The Return of Governor Ross Barnett


            On Sept. 30, 1962, the University of Mississippi secretly installed college student James Meredith into one of its dormitories, making him the first Black student at Ole Miss.  What should have been a momentous occasion for the Southern school was anything but as then Governor Ross Barnett did everything in his power to block Meredith from integrating the Oxford, Miss. campus.

            According to The African American Encyclopedia, Barnett blocked Meredith’s enrollment three times either on technicalities or as a result of physically blocking the entrance to the registrar’s office. 

Barnett went so far as to strip all rights from university officials by naming himself school registrar, ignoring the ruling by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that Meredith’s constitutional rights had been violated since he was denied entrance because of the color of his skin.

            History looks down on the likes of Barnett and former Alabama Governor George Wallace for denying citizens of this country their constitutional rights.  Nevertheless, three mayors of major cities, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston and Mayor Vincent Gray of the nation’s capital have recently filled the void of politicians who ignore the constitutional rights of those they oppose.

            The aforementioned mayors have announced that they will not allow fast food chain Chick-fil-A to expand to their cities because of the owner’s stance on same sex marriage.

Whether one is for same sex marriage or traditional marriage, the recent Chick-fil-A controversy shamefully highlights how far liberal thinkers are willing to go to discriminate against people for expressing their First Amendment rights, which threatens the founding principles that our nation was built upon.

            Those advocating for same sex marriage have argued all along that not allowing one to marry someone of the same gender violates their equal rights.  Conservatives have countered that God states in the Bible that marriage is between one man and one woman, for reproductive purposes.

            If not allowing same sex marriages discriminate against homosexuals, how is it not discrimination to ban someone from doing business in a city because of their religious beliefs?  It seems to me like it is the pot calling the kettle black.

            I understand if the Chick-fil-A controversy encourages people on the left to not support the fast food chain because that is their right to patronize the businesses that they choose. 

In addition, I also fully understand those on the right who choose not to support brands like and Starbucks for their financial support of same sex marriage.

            What I do not understand and cannot tolerate is how the Chick-fil-A controversy would give politicians, who represent the government, the audacity to tell someone what religious views to have and where to do business.  The First Amendment bars the government from infringing on our religious freedoms, not necessarily individuals or companies.

            Menino even said that he would make it difficult for the fast food giant to receive a license to do business from the city if he does not ban them outright. 

The technicalities that he would probably use to prevent the company’s expansion are already reminding me of the technicalities used to prevent Meredith from enrolling at Ole Miss.  Those included having letters of recommendation from Ole Miss faculty, even though there were no Black faculty members on the Ole Miss campus in the early 1960s.

            Regardless of one’s stance on the Chick-fil-A controversy or same sex marriage, one is not a real American if they condone the actions and rhetoric of the three aforementioned mayors. 

            Personally, I love everyone but I love God more and I refuse to sacrifice my religion or relationship with Him for anyone or any cause, and that is my constitutional right and God-given right.

            Unfortunately, it is also the God-given right of over-stepping politicians to go down in history as idiots and bigots like Barnett and Wallace. 

Whether they know it or not, Emanuel, Menino and Gray will find themselves on the wrong side of history soon and that is their right to do so. 

However, it is not their right to infringe on the constitutional rights of others.  That is totally un-American and unacceptable of any political leader.


Smith is publisher of Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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