A video surfaced on Sunday showing Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith joking that she would be present in “the front row” if a friend she was speaking of to invited her “a public hanging.” The Mississippi politician has been met with criticism for her remark ever since. Mississippi was home to the highest number of lynchings of black people in the U.S. in the post-Civil Was period.


Although the exact context behind Hyde-Smith’s comments have not been clarified, the now infamous statement can be seen below:

Notably, the incumbent senator is currently in a close midterm race against Democrat Mike Espy. As neither politician scored over 50 percent of the vote, they will face off again on Nov. 27 in a runoff election. If Espy wins the runoff, he will be Mississippi’s first black senator since 1881.

In a statement released to the Hill, Espy’s campaign denounced Hyde-Smith’s comments, saying, “Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible. They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgement to represent the people of our state.”


Others have criticized the Donald Trump-endorsed senator for her comments, including those on social media to prolific organizations. Speaking to the Washington Post, Lafayette County Democrats chairwoman Cristen Hemmins strongly rebuked Hyde-Smith’s statement, citing its loaded connotation with the state’s history. “With the history of lynching of Mississippi, you just don’t say something like that,” Hemmins said. “I can’t even imagine the kind of mind that would come up with a throwaway phrase like that. I’m a Mississippian. Nobody I know talks like that. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, likewise, issued a statement denouncing Hyde-Smith, writing, “Sen. Hyde-Smith should be ashamed of herself. The fact that she chooses to use such repugnant language despite the ugly history in her state speaks to her lack of concern and knowledge about the experience of people who don’t look like her.”

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