Dr. Valerie Short, Democratic Candidate for Mississippi Governor
By: Dr. Valerie Short
2015 Democratic Candidate for Governor of Mississippi
I was reminded this Sunday morning how easily distractions can potentially lead to serious harm, change a life course, kill a dream, or snuff out a human life. When we are fortunate, they will remind us to slow down and pay more attention to our surroundings and our goals, ie. to focus!
I am running my race to the governor’s office with patience and endurance- focusing on the prize- the victory! My singular objective is to remove the current incumbent from his position come November 2015! I understand that many do not feel as I do for they are comfortable with him. But where your heart is, so lies your treasures- and Mississippi families are my treasures. I believe you can know someone fairly well by their fruits; the proof is in the pudding. And the GOP leadership has led us to a season of intentional lacks! Hence, my urgency to run and win!
You might be able to understand my need to pause at this moment to address a distraction that has bothered me much of this week. It all began on this past Monday, 6/29/15, when I attended a press conference and a rally that was held at the Mississippi state Capitol. I had received a notice and I called to request to be placed on the speaking roster for both sessions in a show of support- for which I was granted. Like most of us, I was aware of the Governor of South Carolina taking their state flag down an action- in the wake of nine (9) dead African American residents of her state. I heard about our own African American Mayor DuPree (a Democrat) standing up and taking (action) the current Mississippi state flag down in Hattiesburg as well as the three (3) Republicans whose words (no action) were spoken in favor of its removal from public places.
Democrats as a whole were slammed at the press conference for no one having stood up and the three Republicans were praised. The pastor gave the opening invocation for the rally on the Capitol steps which included lifting up each of the three Republicans by name. Mind you, I was the only gubernatorial or lieutenant governor candidate visibly present- at both sessions- and I am running on the Democratic ticket. Of what I am aware, several of our state’s Democrats are African American and vice versa- just as 2/3 of the gubernatorial candidates and 1/2 of the lieutenant governor candidates in the Democratic Party. There are no such candidates or counterparts in the state Republican Party! Query: do we as African Americans need to voice our disdain for this flag in order to be acknowledged? Apparently not, for the Mayor of Hattiesburg did just that and was simply overlooked in favor of three (3) Republicans! My support lies with Mayor DuPree! By the way, none of the Republicans who were called by name were in attendance at either session! Taking part in this event were various 501 (c) 3 organizations (traditionally apolitical and nonpartisan); religious affiliates; and some African American current politicians, legislators, candidates, and lawyers.
Reality for me quickly set in. I asked myself- what was actually the purpose of this rally? Was it to demand the Mississippi state flag be taken down, to slam the Democratic Party, or to uplift a few Republicans and their words spoken in an election year with the primaries only a month away? Clarity of objectives had seemed absent at this rally until I heard a speaker make a request to the incumbent Governor- paraphrasing- that we would work with him in any fashion in order to achieve the bringing down of the flag. There it was- the action- an ‘ask’ to the Republican incumbent!
I was flabbergasted beyond measure to say the least! I wondered why we are asking and not acting like Aunjanue Ellis had done- an action step?! And why are we asking when we have elections coming up in a month and in November- a time to harness the power of the vote to remove him and any others from office?! We have several qualified candidates to replace him no matter the party to which you belong! And ‘we’ have qualified credible African Americans running as Democrats of which I am one!
I pondered- why had they not simply supported Hattiesburg in its action? What a powerful statement it would have made to the public and all current state leaders if all interested stakeholders like the other Mississippi Mayors (at least the many African American ones or those of the Conference of Black Mayors) would have taken their flags down in support and unity with Hattiesburg. I kept asking myself- Why didn’t they? What kept this from happening and instead a rally lifting up somebody else was taking place in a city where no action had been taken? If that is the route chosen to take- why does each entity appear to need a separate rally and own media time when a planned unified one would seemingly make an even more powerful statement?
I thought of my own 10 year service to the USAF, my father’s 20 year service, my brother’s shorter stint, and that of most of my uncles on both sides of my family. How could this group so easily and conveniently just discount us and our service to protect all of our freedoms- making us just as invisible as the incumbent and the flag does?!
Now the opposing organizations plan to hold their own rallies in reaction to these- we are still no closer to removing the flag. And all of this during an election year where so much is at stake with the next governor and set of legislators-public education funding of resources to lead to excellence for over 90% of Mississippi’s children; access to quality healthcare for many of our working families, clinics, and hospitals including veterans and retirees; and our shrinking economy and aging infrastructure! The flag representing human hatred, rebellion to the USA, and a past bygone era of Mississippi history is a symbol- a sign and symptom of the many issues facing our state- a large one being containment.
I can say with great reassurance that if the current state flag is still flying when I become governor, then it will be removed and retired to the only place where it can find fit in our 21st century Mississippi- the archive and history museums for all to be reminded of our past and what we have had to work to overcome.
So, let us not lose focus on the prize- a drastic change in our current state leadership to not only address the flag but also our other most emergent needs in order for all Mississippians to survive, progress, and to sustain our present and future and thus our beautiful state! Vote your voice and power come August 4th and November 3rd this year- to reach Victory!