By Ron Williams
At the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors meeting last Friday, District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks made it a point to stress that he wanted a black person appointed to the CVB at-large board position which became available when George Swales announced he was retiring from the position. Here we go again with the obvious problem from taking such a position as Brooks’ has taken.
When will it ever become unacceptable for an elected official, or any other person, to make a request for someone to be appointed to a board based on his skin color? And to use, yet again, an obvious statement spoken many times before…If it was a white elected official calling for the appointment of a ‘white’ board person, based on the fact that the person was ‘white”…the outrage would be nationwide! Every blog in this country (and others. RW) would be all over that! CNN would have a field day in Columbus, Mississippi. And yes, I’ll say it…Jessie Jackson would be on the steps of the courthouse causing disruption and chaos in our city!
To be fair, Brooks made a great case for appointing retired police officer Keith Worshaim to the CVB board. He touted his knowledge and commitment to the other boards he currently serves on and has served on. Beyond being black, Brooks made many valid points why Worshaim should have been appointed. But, when he played the race card -admitting that he hated to do it – he tainted the process.
People can make all the assumptions they want too. Some can assume that John Holliman, Bill Brigham and Harry Sanders voted to appoint Leon Ellis because he was white and they are white. Yes, anyone can assume that. But they’ll tell you that wasn’t the reason they appointed Ellis. They’ll also tell you that they felt Leon was the best person qualified for that board in their own opinions! If either of them came out and said that that they voted for Leon Ellis because he was white -as stated previously- that would be a national story! (and knowing each of them as I do, I know they didn’t appoint Leon for that reason. RW).
But you didn’t even have to assume with Brooks. He made it clear that his main goal was getting a black person on that board from the county…because of “fairness!” Yes, he correctly pointed out the attributes and qualities of Worshaim, but fell back on the, “hey, this isn’t fair not to appoint a black person!” race card approach! How sad.
Again, being fair to Brooks, his point about more blacks serving on boards is valid. About showing diversity and such. He is correct on all counts, there.
Except the fact that appointing Worshaim – not because he HAPPENS to be black…but because he IS black – is the wrong way to go.
Brooks argued that we would be taking a step back by not appointing a black person to the CVB board to represent the county.
I argue that we would be taking that step ‘back’ if we appoint a board member because of the color of his or her skin!
In the end, this debate will rage on and on. It will be never-ending. Because polished politicians of both races are so good at making people believe that they are being wronged. While the facts ‘be damned!’
Ron Williams can be reached by email at