Voice of the people: Lavonne Harris




Defends letter from NAACP to businesses


Last week a letter was sent out on behalf of the Columbus-Lowndes County NAACP to fellow members of the Chamber of Commerce asking them to state their position about the recent racist comments made by Supervisor Harry Sanders. Most have responded to this letter in solidarity with the NAACP's position that Mr. Sanders' continued presence on the board hurts the wellbeing of our community. However, there have been a few business owners and community members, like Mr. Lee Roy Lollar, who have expressed concern with the NAACP vocalizing its intent to find out which businesses stand against racism and leverage the economic power of the NAACP in response to that information.


I find it revealing that Mr. Lollar mentions our letter was "sent by Nadia Colom, the wife of the local D.A." Nadia is a volunteer with the NAACP and will occasionally help me with communications. Her name was on the email because she helped me create the email account. The email was from the branch, not from her. Why mention Nadia is married to the D.A. instead of noting any of her professional and community accomplishments? The 1950s called and they want their sexism back.



This is a moment of reckoning for our community, one where we're forced to answer whether the status quo will continue. While grappling with this question many recently chose to speak out against that status quo, calling for a better, more culturally inclusive Mississippi. And as a result, the divisive and painful confederate battle flag no longer represents our great state.


We know, however, that it was not the moral argument against this flag alone that pushed it through the legislature, but also the economic pressure that the state faced if it chose to maintain the old flag. Simply put, the NCAA has a choice where to place their dollars, just as Mr. Lollar did when he felt ignored in a Black-owned business and chose not to continue to patronize them. The NAACP in its correspondence to the business community simply pointed out that its supporters, too, have a choice in where to place their dollars.


While there have been many businesses like those standing with the LINK in calling for his resignation, there have also been too many reaping the benefits of our support while remaining silently complicit with Mr. Sanders' comments. To go to the extreme of calling this extortion is nothing more than an example of entitlement and privilege. Turbulent waters towards a better community, we will not fall into the counterproductive narrative that this is "just about race again" as Mr. Lollar seems to suggest. The stakes are too high for such a narrow-minded approach.


Lavonne Harris


President, Lowndes County Branch NAACP




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