Community leaders talk race relations after racist letter sent to Bay councilman

Community leaders talk race relations after racist letter sent to Bay councilman
A racist letter sent to a Bay St. Louis city councilman has community leaders talking about how to improve race relations. (Source: WLOX)

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis is talking about the importance of race relations and how it can be improved after a profanity-laced letter filled with racist language was sent to a city councilman recently.

Councilman Jeffrey Reed received the letter and read it at the Bay St. Louis city council meeting. The profanity-laced letter, which was sent by an anonymous person, addresses Reed by his first name and speaks about keeping African-Americans off the Bay-Waveland School Board.

"It says, 'Thanks for all you do to help the good white people of Bay St. Louis from the evil of {expletive} on the Bay-Waveland School Board," said Reed.

However, the councilman said he is moving past it and has no ill feelings to whoever wrote it.

"My family has progressed, my city has progressed. Me, personally, as an individual, I've progressed way beyond this," said Reed.

The letter comes after Joan Thomas was replaced on the Bay-Waveland School Board this week. Thomas was the only black school board member.

Greg Barabino with NAACP of Hancock County said the mayor and city council voted to replace Thomas, he is now looking for ways that the black community can be better represented in the community and in the schools.

"I talked to some of my peers, some people with the NAACP, and we'll have a meeting Monday about where to go from here. Where do we go, as far as finding qualified people?," said Barabino. "The mayor said if he found more qualified candidates, he'd pursue them so we'll ask people to step up."

According to Barabino, more work needs to be done to bring everyone in Bay St. Louis together. In the meantime, Barabino said he is working on some ideas to make that happen.

"I think the first thing we'll do is start holding community meetings to talk about the politics in this community and needing diverse voices," said Barabino.

Barabino and the Hancock County NAACP will host the first of those public meetings at 6 p.m. Monday, March 12 at Morning Star Church on Sycamore Street.

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