Editorial Roundup: Mississippi

Greenwood Commonwealth. June 6, 2024.

Editorial: Look To Future, Not The Past

A congressman from Florida who is Black and Republican made news on May 4 when he said Black families were stronger before the arrival of welfare and other Great Society government programs in the 1960s. Unfortunately, he used the worst possible terminology when trying to make this point.

Campaigning in Philadelphia, Pa., for former President Donald Trump, Rep. Byron Donalds said Black family values suffered after voters began supporting the Democratic Party during the civil rights movement.

“You see, during Jim Crow, the Black family was together,” he said. “During Jim Crow, more Black people were not just conservative — Black people have always been conservative-minded — but more Black people voted conservatively. And then HEW, Lyndon Johnson — you go down that road, and now we are where we are.”

Donalds’ reference to “HEW” probably meant the old federal Health, Education and Welfare Department, which got split up decades ago. But his mention of Jim Crow, meaning the country’s legal and traditional discriminations against Black people, isn’t going to win any arguments. Even worse, it gave Democrats an opening to accuse Donalds of saying that Black people were better off back then.

That’s not quite what he said. But it’s in the ballpark. Donalds did say that during the Jim Crow years, more Black people lived in traditional two-parent families, and that more Black people voted conservatively.

What he left out was that during Jim Crow, a lot of Black people, especially in the South, couldn’t vote at all. Black homes in many cities were restricted to certain redlined neighborhoods. Access to education was greatly limited, as was access to employment, public transportation and even the ability to shop openly at many businesses. Other than all that, life with Jim Crow was great.

Was Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society flawed? Over the past six decades, we certainly have seen the limits of what government can do to lift people out of poverty. At the same time, it was the federal government that removed many discriminatory barriers to make the country a place where people of all backgrounds had a fairer chance of success.

Statistics support Donalds’ belief that 1960s policies haven’t helped enough Black people. By so many important measurements — income, health, education, two-parent families — Black people continue to trail the national average.

Donalds mentioned that more Black families used to be together. He is correct, but statistics on Wikipedia show that the percentage of unmarried Black women giving birth has been much higher than whites all the way back to 1940, and probably before that. In 1970, 5% of white births were to unmarried women, while 35% of Black birth mothers were unmarried.

It’s gotten much worse across the board: In 2014, unmarried women accounted for 30% of white births, while a stunning 70% of Black births were to unmarried women. This is the problem Donalds was getting at; he just explained it poorly.

There are other factors involved besides “Democratic policies.” The divorce rate, for example, has risen sharply since the 1970s as more women (and men) were unwilling to remain in an unhappy relationship.

Republicans have had plenty of chances to reform government programs they didn’t like. Instead of bringing up the horrible past of Jim Crow, Donalds and other Trump supporters should be talking about what they’ll do to make the future better. There is no easy fix.


Columbus Dispatch. June 6, 2024.

Editorial: Air ambulance hangar will improve trauma response

Generally speaking, Mississippi ranks pretty well when it comes to access to emergency health services, but for the most severe cases the options aren’t few; they are one.

University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson is the state’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. Each year, the hospital treats more than 70,000 critically-ill patients from all parts of the state. Because time is of the essence in critical-care, UMMC relies heavily on air ambulance service to significantly reduce the time before these patients receive the care that is only provided by UMMC.

Improvements to the hospital’s air ambulance service means better outcomes from patients throughout the state.

On Tuesday, the Starkville Board of Aldermen approved seeking grants to build a $1.5 million hangar at George M. Bryan Airport to be used primarily for UMMC’s air ambulance service. The hangar will give UMMC a base for serving emergency patients in the northeast part of the state.

The city will be applying for grants that include an Appalachian Regional Commission grant for more than $800,000 and a Mississippi Department of Transportation Grant for more than $490,000.

The city of Starkville, Oktibbeha County and Mississippi State University plan to match the grants for a total of about $150,000, which we believe is a good investment in more ways than one.

In addition to improving UMMC’s air ambulance logistics, it adds another dimension to the airport. As a public-owned, non-commercial airport, Bryan Airport is among the most diverse, not only serving personal aircraft, but Mississippi State as well, especially as home to the university’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory. Respert’s 55,000-square-foot headquarters houses research staff, flight crew, aircraft assets, administrative and other offices, and all research and operational equipment.

A new hangar devoted to UMMC Air Ambulance service complements those existing services, further enhancing the airport’s role in the community.

In addition to air ambulance services, the hangar will be used for air evacuations during disaster and emergencies as well as a staging area for relief teams. The hangar will be recognized as part of UMMC’s Aircare and Disaster Response Operations. Disaster relief teams will include natural disaster response units trained to handle natural disaster issues like flooding, tornadoes and potentially icy weather.

There is also a direct economic benefit. The new facility will add around 20 highly skilled, trained and paid jobs to the Starkville area, including roles like aircraft mechanics and helicopter pilots.

Disaster relief teams will include natural disaster response units trained to handle natural disaster issues like flooding, tornadoes and potentially icy weather.

The new hangar checks a lot of boxes, both in terms of public health and the local economy.

We applaud the aldermen for pursuing this opportunity.