Fourth of July photo diary - Mississippi

I'm not sure what the rules are for photo blogs. Someone holler at me if I've done something wrong. I'll take the diary down if asked.

I went to the July 4th celebration at the city park in a small town in northern MS today. There were 2,000-3,000 people there by my estimate. A very mixed crowd. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Orientals,  Philipinos, and probably more races and ethnic groups that I didn't see.

It was a big family event. Lots of kids, teenagers, and adults of all ages. I spoke to one older couple who said they were both in their 90's.

Everyone got along fine. There was a very visible police presence, but all they did was stand around directing traffic. There were no problems anywhere near me. The fact that there was an alcohol ban probably had as much to do with that as the police presence. Then again, the mood of the crowd was such that I doubt there would have been problems even if there had been no police present.

The mood was festive and everyone mingled and exchanged pleasantries. This is MS, but you would never know there was such a thing as racism if you judged by today's event. Today, we were all Americans without any hyphens.

The only mildly negative thing for me was seeing some people walking around with signs for Roger Wicker, the Republican candidate for Trent Lott's Senate seat. He is holding that seat now as an appointed replacement. We're hoping to get him out of office come November. There's a real chance Ronnie Musgrove, the Democratic candidate, can defeat him. I'll be working for Musgrove's campaign. Probably phone-banking.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I don't know how many this one is worth, but it sure sums up the event. Notice the shirt the man is wearing and the name of the school on the back of his chair.
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There was plenty of clothing with flag themes. I noticed the guy wearing this shirt as he walked towards me. The man he is talking to was sitting in a few feet in front of me. I thought it might make a good picture, because of the shirt and hat.
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There was a play area set up for the kids, in addition to the park's regular playground. They had one of those huge inflated rooms with the plastic balls in it. There were also a couple of big inflated slides and this rock-climbing tower. The line for the tower was pretty long. I was tempted to wait around until the guy in the blue and white plaid shirt attempted the climb. That might have made for a great photo opportunity.
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And, of course, there were fireworks. Here are a few pictures for those who didn't make it to a fireworks display this year.
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Tags: 4th, declaration of independence, fireworks, fourth, Independence Day, july, photos (all tags)

Comments

6 Comments

wow. happy 4th!

love this diary.  highly rec'd.

this is pure americana...  and i freely admit that i do not understand the racism that permeates the US, however it made me think of when i was on my honeymoon a few years back we were on a cruise that left from new orleans.  we sat horrified by the blatant racism that many of the people we came in contact with had.  just in striking up casual conversation with us people were throwing around racial epithets like they were talking about the weather.  suffice is to say - we didn't socialize much.

by canadian gal 2008-07-04 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: wow. happy 4th!

Hey Indie. Thank you very much for this blog. Mississippi is a beautiful state. This blog helps tell the world that just cause the address is southern doesn't mean it's racist. There are alot folks who are just tired of the assumption. Groups that promote racial harmony are alive and kickin. And folks who just live their lives of kindness never get the press that one bigot would get.

Canadian Gal. I'm so sorry for your experiences in New Orleans of all places. I've lived in the South all my life. That would be a long time. I'm not blind and have seen just how mean spirited SOME folks can be. But I've never seen overt racism like you mention here. Never. Who was saying these things? People on the street? Tourist on the ship? Folks in the hotels? How terrible. But If you didn't socialize that much I can see why you would have missed the good folks. New Orleans is a very interesting and diverse city. They depend on tourism for much of the economy. You should have complained and I guarantee that would have ended it. I hope that you'll come back South and give us another chance much like Sen. Russ Feingold did for Alabama. The citizens of Greenville,Alabama, who are just the nicest folks, heard that Sen. Feingold had an assumption of the South and Alabama. They invited him to come and visit, just like I'm doing to you, and he did. Needless to say, his opinion changed. The world likes to hold on to the image of the racist South. It makes dramatic movies and gets folks all riled up. But come back and really see us. Not everyone is like that.
We're pretty nice and pretty regular folks.
Heck, I'll put a plug in for my state. We have cruise ships leaving Mobile too. Why don't you take your next cruise out of Mobile,Alabama. You should find the experience quite nice I hope. Let me know when you do. And if you don't have a good time or see this blatant racism? You let me know.

Indie, thank you very much for this diary. From the looks of it, maybe the best 50 state strategy is for us all post diaries like this. To get past the preconcieved notions from the media and see the real US.

Hugs from an exPat Mississippian and a Southern neighbor.
12 dogs.

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-07-05 07:36AM | 0 recs
oh!

to be clear none of this happened in new orleans (which i adored) - it happened on the ship talking to people from cities in louisiana mostly.

i have travelled often to the states (coastal cities - east and west)  and only really experienced this on this trip.

by canadian gal 2008-07-05 01:59PM | 0 recs
Re: wow. happy 4th!

Racism is still present in this country. That's such an obvious statement that I feel kind of silly for saying it. However, it seems to be dying a little more every day.

I observe whites and blacks interacting on a daily basis. I have yet to observe an overt act of racism in word or deed when both races are present. From either group. However, that seems to be different among whites, and probably blacks, when there is only one race present. I still hear racist comments when I'm only with other whites. I have hope that it is changing, though.

Most of the comments I hear seem almost like knee-jerk responses. I don't think they are so much really true feelings as things that have been ingrained and come out as involuntary responses. If questioned about some overtly racist comment most people down here will reply that they don't really mean it. I call people out on it all the time. Their reaction to being called out on it is usually to act sheepish and admit that what they said was wrong.

You have to keep in mind that people have been hearing derogatory comments about people of a different color for their entire lives. This seems to be less common as each generation passes on. Time is what will change things. Each generation is less apt to parrot the previous generations views.

I witnessed several things yesterday that give me hope. There were groups of both races that came to the celebration together. I saw groups that were segregated not by race, but by normal societal groupings. Two women walked together, one white and the other black. Their husbands followed behind, carrying on a conversation as they walked.

Following the first two couples were more small groups of strollers that were grouped the same way. The women, of both races, walking together and the men following along behind. The children were mixed in among them. I could see absolutely no grouping based on race. Two young girls holding hands ran ahead, laughing and skipping as they went. One girl was white and the other was black.

There were family groups, sitting on chairs or blankets, scattered around the park. There was no sign of segregation. Black families sat among groups of white families. The opposite was just as common. No one seemed to be congregating with members of their own race. Conversations went on between everyone there, irregardless of color.

The days of whites only drinking fountains is in the past. Yes, racism is still with us and will be for a long time to come, but it isn't the huge divide it once was.

by MS01 Indie 2008-07-05 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: wow. happy 4th!

I should probably turn this comment into a diary.

by MS01 Indie 2008-07-05 10:57AM | 0 recs
yes you should!

by canadian gal 2008-07-05 01:59PM | 0 recs

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