Judge attacks school board member on Facebook

October 29, 2013 10:28:53 AM

Sarah Fowler - [email protected]


A Columbus Municipal Judge took to her Facebook page to portray a member of the Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees as an Uncle Tom. 


Screen shots from Judge Nicole Clinkscales' Facebook page reveal comments suggesting that Columbus Municipal School Board member Aubra Turner was guilty of "tom'' foolery. 


Although Clinkscales' Facebook page is not public, several people with access to the page informed The Dispatch of its contents late last week. 


Calls and messages to Clinkscales' office Monday were not returned. 


An "Uncle Tom" is a perjorative term used to describe a black person considered too eager to be friendly and helpful to white people in authority. The term is taken from a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." 


Both Clinkscales and Turner are black. 


Posted to the social networking site on Oct. 24 at 1:22 p.m., the status update came hours after a specially called meeting of the CMSD school board to hire an interim superintendent. At the meeting, Turner said she had been pressured to vote against Edna McGill, citing race as the reason for opposition. McGill is white.  


Clinkscales has attended the last several school board meetings and has been visibly outraged at recent board decisions, particularly those in which her sister, school board member Angela Verdell, voted against the majority. The board is comprised of three blacks and two whites. The other two black members of the board voted against McGill's hiring and after the vote was taken Clinkscales quickly exited, audibly expressing her displeasure. 


Later that afternoon, Clinkscales, in her Facebook post, addressed Turner's complaint of being pressured by outsiders. The post read, "The elders always say just keep on living because anything you haven't seen you will see eventually. This morning was one of those moments. I can't believe what my eyes have seen and my ears have heard. I never thought I'd see this kind of 'tom' foolery AGAIN that I have seen in what is supposed to be an arena of education and higher order thinking. We are yet reduced back to having to defend an opposing view and race is the dirty little word no one wants to say yet it continues to be tossed around. I am SO over board member Turner!" 


By Monday afternoon, the post had received 55 likes and nine comments, including four comments by Clinkscales. Facebook user Robert Rhymes wrote, "Ain't that the truth. Slavery of the mind is the worst kind of bondage." Clinkscales responded, saying, "And to further quote Sister Tubman...NEVER wound a snake...KILL IT!" The comment garnered three likes. 


Turner declined to comment when reached Tuesday morning. 


Clinkscales was appointed as a municipal judge by the city council in 2010.  


While the Mississippi Bar Association and the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance would not comment on the matter, a judge's freedom of speech has been called into question in recent years. 


In 2004, Judge Glenn Wilkerson wrote a letter to the George County Times in Lucedale claiming that homosexuals needed to be placed in a "mental institute." A complaint was filed and the case was presented before the Supreme Court which ruled Wilkerson's comments were protected under the First Amendment. 


Leflore County Court Judge Solomon Osborne resigned in 2008 after he made a remark regarding "white folks" at a public event in 2006. Despite his resignation, the Mississippi Judicial Committee took the matter before the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2009 arguing that "racial overtones of Judge Osborne's comments cast doubt on his integrity, independence, and ability to be fair and impartial in all matters that come before his court." Osborne argued his comments were protected by the First Amendment, but the state's highest court ruled in favor of the commission.

Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.