The Mississippi Department of Archives and History board will continue to pick its own appointees, with Senate approval, after the Mississippi House rejected a bill that would have turned power to select board members over to the governor and lieutenant governor.
“We are happy and relieved to announce that S.B. 2727, the bill that would have given control of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s board of trustees to the executive branch, has failed overwhelmingly in the House,” the Society of Mississippi Archivists said in a statement after the vote yesterday. “Thanks to all of you who contacted your representatives and spoke up to protect the integrity of MDAH and historical instruction in our state.”
Mississippi senators passed the bill last month by a 34-14 margin with only Republican support. After Luke Ramseth first reported on the bill in the Daily Journal on Feb. 16, historians across the state warned that it would “politicize” the history board, which oversees pursuits like the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which has earned national praise for its unsanitized telling of the state’s racist history.
“We cannot go back. Placing the Board of Trustees in the hands of the Executive Branch invites significant politicization of the work of the agency and threatens to undo the good that the MDAH has done in telling the stories of this state in a candid, evidence-based way,” the Society of Mississippi Archivists said in a Feb. 18 statement.
Mississippi House representatives rejected the bill on a cross-partisan basis 103-19 yesterday. The handful of Republicans who voted for the bill included Mississippi’s GOP house speaker, Philip Gunn.