Last month, Congress passed a massive lands bill that, among other things, added four national monuments, including Medgar Evers' home located in Jackson, Mississippi. President Donald Trump signed the legislation into law earlier this week.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, a Trump ally, felt it appropriate to thank the president and the state's Republican senators, but left out Bennie Thompson the African American congressman who has worked over the years, has testified at hearings, proposed legislation and called for a study of the feasibility of the National Park Service taking over the Evers' home.
"Thank you to @realDonaldTrump for signing legislation today to designate Medgar and Myrlie Evers home as a National Monument," he tweeted. "@SenatorWicker & @SenHydeSmith have worked very hard on this for some time and are to be commended."
The head of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed in Friday on a simmering dispute in Mississippi over who deserves credit for the push to designate civil rights icon Medgar Evers' home a national monument.
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant "despicable" and accused him of ignoring the work of Rep. Bennie Thompson, the lone Democrat and African-American in the state's delegation, who has advocated for years for Evers' home to be named a national monument.
"I don’t know much about the governor of Mississippi, but he is clearly despicable," Bass said in a call with reporters Friday. "There is no way in the world that he should not have acknowledged the decades of work that Congressman Bennie Thompson has put in. So for him to specifically ignore him is really just an example of his pettiness."
“You can take my word the entire Congressional Black Caucus was highly offended that he would be so disrespectful of one our most important members and a member who chairs a full committee – the Homeland Security Committee," Bass said. “For him to disrespect him in the manner that he did, I hope the governor of Mississippi knows that the slight will not go unnoticed."
Evers' widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, told SiriusXM radio host Joe Madison Friday she was "incensed'' that only a few were credited, noting that Thompson and others worked for 16 years to get the historic designation.
"I have given too much to sit down and be quiet about something that I feel is unjust,'' said the 87-year-old civil rights veteran. "How dare that be taken and given credit to one or two people who are new."
After years of working to enact the home of Medgar and Myrlie Evers as a national monument, I am proud to announce it has been signed into law. I hope this enactment affords my long-time friend Myrlie Evers some assurance that her husband’s legacy lives on. pic.twitter.com/lFInLfyZnW— Bennie G. Thompson (@BennieGThompson) March 13, 2019