An Open Letter to Governor Reeves

Dear Governor Tate Reeves,

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

We realize the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping you tremendously busy. The same day you signed the executive orders for Mississippians to shelter-in-place, you also signed the Proclamation of Confederate Heritage Month.

            We would like to give you the benefit of the doubt that when you signed that proclamation on April 1, you were distracted by caring for the people of our state during this time of crisis.

            Will you please take a moment to consider rescinding that proclamation? We realize this COVID-19 crisis is climbing to a fever pitch. We haven’t hit the apex yet. The worst days are still ahead.

            But, as was pointed out during your press conference on Wednesday, April 8, our fellow African Americans are being hit very hard by COVID-19. And especially our elderly African Americans.            

            Please take a moment to reflect on that.

            The very Mississippians who suffered through the horrible injustices of the Jim Crow laws of the early 1900s and the inhumane treatment during segregation in the 1950s and 1960s as well as the ensuing discrimination of the following decades, are the same ones who may be facing death in the next few weeks. Can we give them the honor they are long overdue by confessing there are no “successes” to celebrate about a confederacy that was formed to oppress them?

            At a time when we need to come together as one in Mississippi to overcome this pandemic, this proclamation not only divides us, but it also wounds African Americans when they most need our support and care.

            If you won’t listen to us, will you consider Bishop Stanley Searcy’s example when he joined you for the press conference on Wednesday? He did not want to give up his constitutional right to hold Easter services. But he humbled himself before you and said that if you asked him to cancel services, then he would. Can you do the same with our fellow African American citizens? Can you ask if they want Mississippi to celebrate our Confederate Heritage? And will you humbly agree to do whatever they say? In our opinion, this is the second-best option. This is a problem created by whites that is best made right by whites.

            This Sunday we celebrate Jesus humbling Himself on a cross so that He could recover the sight of the blind and set at liberty those who are oppressed.

            Governor Reeves, we implore you to follow in Jesus’s footsteps. The days ahead could be another dark time in Mississippi’s history—but you have the power to bring light and hope in the midst of a pandemic. You could lead the way in recovering the sight of our blind eyes, of recognizing how we have oppressed our African American brothers and sisters.

            Please rescind this proclamation.

            Our prayers are with you,

            Jeff and Kim Miller

PS The comments below are open for those who would like for Governor Reeves to rescind the Proclamation of Confederate Heritage month. If you comment, could you also include whether you are a resident of Mississippi or not?

50 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Governor Reeves

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  1. Governor Reeves,
    I echo these sentiments. The military brought us to Mississippi 17 years ago, and we have chosen to stay and raise our children here. Celebrating the heritage of ALL Mississippians, rather than the “confederate” heritage would be such a healing gesture for this state. I do not suggest erasing the history, but to celebrate it is a continued slap in the face to our black residents. Please rescind!

    1. Please rescind this order immediately. We need unity, not division and there is nothing to celebrate regarding the confederacy; please help us move forward, not backward.

    2. I agree with the letter. I don’t understand who even wanted this proclamation?

      – Bonnie Garrett
      Starkville, MS

  2. Thank you, Kim! Appreciate your humility and Christian approach to this and hope Governor Reeves will take note— and swift action.

    1. This has been perfectly expressed. I fully agree. I was mortified to have this proclamation declared just as my friends, neighbors, church members, community members, and countrymen were finding out that this terrible virus was a worse threat to them. Please consider the love of Jesus Christ for His people in this decision. Thank you!

  3. I completely agree, Kim. Love thy neighbor as thyself has never been more poignant. I would like to see this rescinded now, and removed from future consideration.

  4. Dear Governor Reeves,
    I agree with this letter and ask that you would stand up for what is right and rescind this proclamation. I lived in Mississippi most of my life and just last year moved out of state. This proclamation is divisive and does not uphold the values of most Mississippians. Please reconsider your decision and do what is best for your state.

  5. I am not a resident of MS. I agree that this proclamation sends a very hurtful damaging message to many people. I would hope that we would move forward with healing and helpful proclamations instead.

  6. Thank you for this well thought out letter to our governor. I am in total agreement and pray Gov. Reeves will rescind this proclamation.

  7. Thank you, Jeff and Kim, for bringing this to the governor’s attention. I’m hopeful for Mississippi to have a future that’s truly healing and shows our nation that we are not proclaiming for celebration a part of our history — particularly the treatment of African Americans — that so many rightly find a disgrace. I’m hopeful that we’d not forget or hide our history, but it would serve as a reminder of the importance of compassion, mercy, wisdom, and love for our neighbor as ourselves. May God continue to restore race relations in our state as, I believe, we have started to witness within the church. I’m hoping our governor will be deeply mindful not to put up roadblocks to complete healing and rescind this proclamation. Thanks again,

  8. Jeff & Kim,
    I wholeheartedly agree! The military brought us to the beautiful state of Mississippi 15 years ago. It is my fervent hope that Governor Reeves will take your message to heart and do what is right by rescinding this proclaimation.
    Christina Chunn

  9. I agree and am so thankful you and your husband are taking the time to write a letter. I was born and raised in MS and have lived in KY for the last 2 years.

  10. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Not, love the neighbors who look like you. Not, love the neighbors whose ancestors came from the same area as yours. Not, love thy neighbor but make sure they know they’re less than in your eyes. Not, love thy neighbor, but stay true to your roots and if those are in conflict, choose your roots.

    Love thy neighbor. Period.

    Please rescind this divisive proclamation and become a governor of ALL of the citizens of Mississippi, not just those who look like you.

    Lindsay Clemons, Columbus, MS

  11. Completely agree! It is time to be humble, fix the wrong done and be a part of the solution, not the problem. As a resident of Mississippi, I think it is imperative to rescind this.

  12. Mississippi will only benefit from changing this holiday immediately. What better time to unify us all.

  13. I am a teacher, and native Mississippian. I teach children of all races, and they are all equal in my eyes.
    Please reconsider and rescind this proclamation.
    -Dolan Shoemaker

  14. Thank you Kim and Jeff. As a Mississippi resident and native, I request that the proclamation be rescinded. There are so many reasons it is wrong and damaging to people in the state. Do the right thing for everyone in Mississippi.

  15. Thank you, Jeff and Kim Miller, for writing such a beautiful response to such a tragic proclamation. I have had a difficult time expressing my feelings on this and your wording was written so well and full of the love of Christ. God bless you 🙂

    Dear Governor Reeves,
    I have been a resident of Mississippi for the majority of my life until this January and I completely agree that the proclamation be rescinded. There is no reason to create a rift between people when we need to be working together during this crisis. Jesus did not die on a cross for us to celebrate hatred and oppression. I pray that we can come together as a people and love one another as Jesus did.

  16. Well said, Kim.

    Governor Reeves,

    As a former Mississippian that still considers the wonderful state my home, I want to one day bring my children to the state where I was born, raised, and lived for over half my life. What I want them to see is a state that has learned from its history and, instead of repeating the same mistakes, see a state that has made amends in regard to racial disunity. I want my children to see that unity is possible where walls were once raised. I want them to see a state that is a testament to healing. This proclamation does none of this. This proclamation is remaining stuck on the wrong side of history, furthering a divide instead of bringing unity, and bringing hurt instead of healing. At a time when Mississippi needs a rallying of unity, especially from leadership, this proclamation is quite the opposite. For the future generations of all who call Mississippi home, please rescind this proclamation.

  17. Governor Reeves,
    Please reconsider alienating over 30% of our population in our great state. At this time and hereafter we need to unite as one people. This is divisive.

  18. Please rescind. Leave the Civil War to history. Mississippi’s finest hour is not in the past, but in the future.
    Mississippi resident.

  19. I agree! This is beautifully worded and so true. As someone who has spent the past 22 years in MS and proudly call it my home, I acknowledge it’s dark past and hope that we can move forward in a way that is honoring to ALL human beings that are made in the image of God. We should never forget the past, but we shouldn’t celebrate the misdeeds and wrongdoings of the past and those who made them. We should learn from the past and focus on bringing unity instead of division.

  20. Though I am a lifelong resident of Mississippi, I didn’t fully grasp the ugliness of our past until a few years ago. This part of our state’s history should not be forgotten, but it shouldn’t be celebrated either.
    I wholeheartedly agree with your letter — this proclamation should be rescinded.

  21. Governor,
    Please reconsider this proclamation. Besides adding insult to injury it comes at a particularly cruel time. Your management of the State’s response to the pandemic has already recieved international derision, consider that eyes are on our State and that there is an economic impact of racial insensitivity as well. Send the message that Mississippi welcomes and values business and workers of all races, colors, and creeds.

    From a physician on the front lines in Tupelo.

  22. Governor Reeves,

    As a resident and active voter in the state of Mississippi, I and my entire family ask that you rescind this order. With racial tensions higher than any point in the 20yrs I’ve lived in this state, this Proclamation shows a tone-deafness to what our African American brethren are experiencing. This proclamation alienates and disparages not only those of color but those of us who strive to move forward in the much needed healing process of the South’s dark past. If this is not rescinded, I and my wife would not be able to vote for a individual who signed to celebrate confederate heritage month.

  23. As Mississippi residents, Brent and I completely agree. Please rescind immediately. Let’s honor our African American residents by looking ahead to a better future, not highlighting a shameful past.

  24. Governor Reeves:
    Please rescind this proclamation. Now is not the time for separation but for unity among the people of the great State of Mississippi. To allow this proclamation to stand would be a travesty and an insult.

  25. The fact that any state or public institution would stoop to the celebration of such a calloused, hateful movement is not only an embarrassment to the citizens of this state, but to the entire country. How long will Mississippi scorn those whose humanity and rights as such have been continually degraded, mitigated, and denied? This proclamation is only the latest note in a centuries-long overture of menace towards African Americans. Rescind this disgraceful, laughably tactless, and uncaring proclamation and apologize for the continued efforts of this state to debase those of have been so recklessly oppressed.

  26. We can’t erase our history, but we can choose not to honor what’s inappropriate. It’s time to stop romanticizing this sad era and recognize it for what it was. I’m a resident who is embarrassed by this proclamation.

  27. That was very well versed. I’ve resided in various states most of my life. Mississippi is, and will always be, home to me. I grew up when all white academy schools existed. I played on an all black summer league baseball team. We played the all white team in my county only once in my seven years of summer league baseball. Now, when I am home my younger cousins bring more white friends by his mother’s in one day than I ever hung out with in my 12 years of school. When I am home, I go out for drinks with white classmates. We discuss how diverse our town has become. Please governor don’t tarnish their futures. This is not about the past. This is about what the youth deserve. They don’t have prejudice and hatred that exists in our elders from years ago. There’s no changing out past. They have changed our present. Don’t tarnish their future!

  28. I agree completely! As African Americans, my husband & I choose to raise our family believing that MS would rise above all the historical choices that have pushed our ethnic group to the “back of the bus.” Choices for which my parents & siblings took their educations, businesses, and families to other states. Yet here we are again, our elected official disproportionately representing only a small portion of the state in a way that ignores & harms the African American populace all over again. Leave this history that you’re so proud of in the museums, Tate Reeves, and find a way to unify this great state. Please rescind the Confederate Heritage Month proclamation.

  29. As a Mississippi resident born and raised I ask that you rescind this proclamation. Not just for our future but our children’s future! Thank you!

  30. Like our flag, this declaration is a celebration of dark times for our nation and our State. History has judged this past and deemed the lessons valuable ones, on the worst we are capable of as people. This recent crisis has also shown the worst we can be but also our best – coming together in ways never even thought of while isolating ourselves in ways never imagined. Mr.Governor, please show us how Mississippi can still be best -best at tolerance, best at unity, best at love and support for all our citizens. Let history judge you as someone who made it all possible.

  31. I full heartedly agree that we should know and learn from our history in any area of life, but that does not mean we should celebrate every part of it. This proclamation was not necessary at all, but especially at a time like this. Please rescind this proclamation.

  32. Having read the brief proclamation, I don’t find the language to be offensive, except for the part about memorializing (ie. celebrating) the Confederacy. I am all for remembering or memorializing the Civil War, and how it ended the horrible practice of slavery, and how it kept our nation from being physically divided. I am all for celebrating those things. But when you use the word confederate, it makes it seem like you believe that their cause was just. There may have been some just parts, but nothing that would have tipped the scales against the evil of slavery. Words matter. Let’s use the right words and celebrate the right things about our heritage – the good and the bad. “The tongue has the power of life and death…” Proverbs 18:21. Speak life.

  33. Governor Reeves,
    I cannot agree with Mr. Marlin’s comments above more. I agree that it is important for Americans to reflect on our nation’s past, to gain insight from our mistakes and successes, and that it is imperative to come to an understanding of the lessons learned from those mistakes and successes. But it is difficult to discern from those sentiments which events from that period of our nation’s history are to be regarded as mistakes or successes. Any interpretation that the Confederate practice of slavery is one of those mistakes is undermined by the over-sized and capitalized font in bold italics in the center of the page. Language matters and the words “Confederate Heritage” are simply, and probably rightly, offensive to many, many Mississippi residents.
    Governor Reeves, this proclamation needs to be clarified or rescinded.

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