People Say Race Is Still A Problem In Mississippi

Zeleder Barnes runs the English department at D'Iberville High School. Her management style is color blind.

"I don't see color," the English teacher said. "And the reason I don't see color is because I ask God to take color out of my eyes."

Two buildings away, David Ball teaches social studies. This semester, he focused many of his lectures on Mississippi's 2003 elections.

"I think we've made progress in this state," Ball said. "But I think there is a long way to go."

The two teachers grew up in Mississippi. One lived through the civil rights era. The other read books about it. They both voted in Tuesday's election. And they both read about Barbara Blackmon blaming race for her loss in the Lt. Governor's race.

When Ball was asked if the color of Barbara Blackmon's skin cost her the election Tuesday night, he said, "I think there is a portion of the state that would never consider voting for somebody that is African American."

Then Barnes was asked if Blackmon would have won if she was white. "I would venture to say yes," Barnes said.

Gulfport councilman Jimmie Jenkins also believe race had a lot to do with Blackmon's loss in the Lt. Governor's race. He remembers the days when African Americans never made it on Mississippi ballots.

So when he was asked if Mississippi was still a racist state, the councilman said, "Somewhat. Somewhat. I know reality. There are some people in this state that still vote down racial lines."

Back at D'Iberville High School, Zeleder Barnes talked about Mississippi's race issues. "I wouldn't venture to saw how bad it is, but it still exists," she said.