Politicians Will Not Control Mississippi History Board After House Rejects Bill 103-19

Reuben Anderson speaks at a podium outside the Two Mississippi Museums as Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann and Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn look on.
Reuben Anderson, seen here speaking outside the Two Mississippi Museums in July 2020 with Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (center) and Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (right) behind him, is the board chairman for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. On March 9, the Mississippi House rejected a Senate-approved bill that would have taken decisions over board appointments away from its members and granted Mississippi's governor and lieutenant governor the power to appointment new members. After historians raised concerns that the bill risked "politicizing" the board, the Mississippi House defeated it by a vote of 103-19. Speaker Gunn supported the bill. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

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.

Comments

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

 The Mississippi Free Press is nonprofit, solutions journalism for Mississippians and others who care about the state. 

Our newsroom runs on donations from people who care about Mississippi and this reporting. We thank you for reading and ask for your financial support.

Click the Support button below or at the very top of the site. Your donation will be made through the Community Foundation for Mississippi, our fiscal agent. Thank you!

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

 The Mississippi Free Press is nonprofit, solutions-driven journalism for Mississippians and others who care about the state. 

With your help, we can do even more important stories like this one.