Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Philadelphia Mississippi's First Black Mayor

James Young still remembers the Ku Klux Klan tormenting his neighborhood. He can still see his father holding a gun on the living room couch ready to shoot anyone who threatened his family. Nothing about Young's childhood ever made him think he could be the mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town best known for the killings of three civil rights workers in 1964.

That's the way it was for black kids growing up in this crucible of racial hostility -- big dreams were often squelched. Sitting on a sprawling Southern front porch this week, Young broke down in tears about what it means to be elected the town's first black mayor.

This week, the 53-year-old Young was elected the mayor of Philadelphia, a town of about 8,000 in the east-central part of the state. Despite a 55 percent white majority, Young defeated Rayburn Waddell, a white, three-term incumbent, by the slim margin of 46 votes.


This is an amazing story. I am glad the residents of Philly, MS are showing they are ready to move into the 21st century. I've never understood why racism and xenophobia are so prevalent in our society. The aforementioned entities are even more baffling to me when they are held by those who claim to be Christians. Due to a history of oppression, there are a lot of Black people in the Deep South that harbor anger towards White people. Mr. Young found something inside himself to transcend that anger. Consequently, he was able to win the mayoral race in a city with a history of violence towards Black people. James Young is living the "Impossible Dream."

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
And to run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
And to love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star