Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s husband is related to a man who killed a black World War I veteran in 1955 as he was returning absentee ballots from black voters, according to a documentary filmmaker who researched the lynching of Emmett Till and other murders in Mississippi.
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch reported Sunday that the filmmaker Keith Beauchamp found evidence that Hyde-Smith’s husband, Michael Smith, was related to one of the men who murdered Lamar Smith on Aug. 13, 1955, outside of the courthouse in Brookhaven, Hyde-Smith’s hometown.
Lamar Smith had been “active in voter registration drives,” according to a 2010 FBI review of the case, and was working for the campaign of a candidate challenging an incumbent county supervisor when he was killed.
He was delivering absentee ballots as a way for the black community to vote without fear of being attacked by white supremacists at the polls.
Beauchamp, whose 2005 film “The Untold Story of Emmett Till” compelled the FBI to reopen its investigation of Till’s murder, said his research showed that Michael Smith was related to Mack Smith, one of the three men arrested for Lamar Smith’s murder.
However, two different grand juries declined to prosecute the suspects, according to the FBI.
Bunch and Beauchamp drew a connection between Hyde-Smith’s tie to one of the men who killed Lamar Smith and the language she has used on the campaign trail, including a recent remark suggesting conservatives “make it just a little more difficult” for liberal students to vote.
Speaking to a small group in Starkville on Nov. 3, Hyde-Smith said: “And then they remind me, that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”
The comment, first reported by The Bayou Brief, a progressive blog about Louisiana and Southern politics, was made Nov. 3 in Starkville, Miss., days before the general election.
Hyde-Smith tried to downplay criticism of the remark, casting it as a joke and tweeting a photo of a group of Mississippi State University students, including one who is black, laughing with her.
The black student, JR Coleman, wrote on Twitter that he did not support Hyde-Smith and that she only posted the picture “because I am black.”
Hyde-Smith’s campaign deleted the tweet.
It wasn’t Hyde-Smith’s first racially insensitive gaffe of the campaign.
Earlier this month, White, the progressive blogger, released a video of Hyde-Smith telling a crowd about one of her supporters, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” despite Mississippi’s history as the state with the most lynchings during the Jim Crow era.
She refused to apologize.
A runoff election will be held Nov. 27 between Hyde-Smith, a Republican who was appointed to the Senate in March, and former Rep. Mike Espy, a Democrat, to determine who will serve the remainder of former Sen. Thad Cochran’s term.
Hyde-Smith is scheduled to appear with President Donald Trump, no stranger to racial controversies, at two rallies on Monday in Tupelo and Biloxi, Politico reported.