BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There are still many African Americans in Mississippi who are old enough to remember Jim Crow laws, lynchings and cross burnings. Some of them said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree's victory in the Democratic runoff is also their triumph. They said 50 years ago they wouldn't have dared to dream that a black man could get this close to being governor of Mississippi.
Born and raised in Mississippi, Rev. Kenneth Haynes of Main Street Missionary Baptist Church remembers a time when being black was enough to keep someone off the voter rolls.
"Impossible. It would be impossible," said Rev. Haynes. "I remember those times."
When DuPree won the Democratic nomination for governor, Haynes was surprised. He said he voted for DuPree not really believing a black man stood a chance.
"Words are inadequate to describe the dream and desire that this would happen," Rev. Haynes said. "I never would have thought I would live long enough to see it."
Tyrone Burton owns a barber shop on Main Street in Biloxi. He said he had no doubt Mayor DuPree would make the cut. Burton met DuPree years ago and was impressed by what he's done in Forrest County. Burton believes once more Mississippians get to know the gubernatorial candidate, they'll back him also.
"I have that faith that all things are possible," Burton said. "I just see starting with the president how things have changed by him getting in there. As a state, we can pull this off. Without a doubt. We will be there."
The generation of African Americans that fought so hard for civil rights said Mayor DuPree has already done a lot by getting this far. He's showing young blacks not to ever let the color of their skin stop them for working toward their dreams.
Bobbie Haynes said, "It's letting them know that all things are possible. You can be whatever you want to be if you go get it."
"We're definitely still dreaming, just like Dr. Martin Luther King that it come to place color won't have any affect on the position in which we seek," said Rev. Haynes.
The voters we talked to said they're not supporting DuPree solely because of his race. They believe he is the right person for the job.
"Because the guy, he is awesome. I experienced meeting him a few years ago back up in Hattiesburg, and I just look at the job that he does in Hattiesburg. He is somebody to reckon with," said Burton.