Miss. House praises event by white nationalist

By Emily Wagster Pettus/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON — The Mississippi House has approved another resolution praising an event sponsored by white nationalist Richard Barrett.

As in years past, the resolution passed after lawmakers received only a vague explanation about what it contained, without a mention from a committee chairman that Barrett was sponsoring the event.

In 2009, a similar resolution was approved by the House, then blocked when one lawmaker called Barrett an “avowed racist.”

The new resolution commends two high school athletes participating in the “Spirit of America Day,” which was Monday. Barrett was at the Capitol with at least one of the teenagers.

The resolution doesn’t mention Barrett’s name, but he has sponsored the event for more than a dozen years to honor white male athletes.

In 2009, the House approved a resolution for the “Spirit of America” event, but the resolution died when Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, prevented its release. Johnson called Barrett an “avowed racist” who “has made himself a constant embarrassment to the state.”

Barrett has spent decades traveling the U.S. to promote anti-black and anti-immigrant views. He is an attorney and operates the Nationalist Movement in the small rural town of Learned, Miss., about 20 miles southwest of Jackson.

The Nationalist Movement’s Web site on Monday featured documents criticizing racial integration, bemoaning the loss of symbols such as the Confederate flag and saying affirmative action has “Taken over juries, banks and public-employment.”

Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, sponsored the resolutions last year and this year. The latest one was adopted on a voice vote Feb. 17 and was immediately released.

A message left on Moore’s cell phone Monday was not immediately returned.

House Rules Committee Chairman Joe Warren, D-Mount Olive, said Monday that he brought it up along with several other unrelated resolutions and they were approved as a group.

Warren said he did not give the full House a detailed explanation of who was sponsoring the “Spirit of America” event, although he talked to some individually.

“I talked to some of the black members and they felt like as long as that certain individual’s name was not involved in the resolution and were just honoring these young people, that they didn’t seem to have any problems with it — as long as it was geared just toward these young people, who evidently are great kids academically and athletically,” Warren told The Associated Press.

Mississippi legislators adopt hundreds of resolutions each year to praise sports teams, celebrities and people with long records of community involvement.

The Senate has passed resolutions in the past to commend “Spirit of America Day,” but no senator filed one this year. This year’s House resolution did not have to go to the Senate for a vote.

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The resolution is House Resolution 24.