Respect, hate, violence, death…a saga of the modern South

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by Valencia Mohammed
For New Pittsburgh Courier

(AFRO.com)—Richard Barrett, 67, general counsel of the Nationalist Movement, which he founded in Mississippi, was found dead in his home April 22, in Rankin County, Miss.

Police said the attorney, well-known for his public opposition to the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday and his anti-Jena Six demonstrations, was murdered. And they have charged Barrett’s neighbor, Vincent McGee, a 22-year old Black male who was released from prison in February for arson, with the crime. Records indicate Barrett was stabbed and bludgeoned. His home was also set on fire.

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RICHARD BARRETT

It was initially reported that McGee allegedly killed Barrett because of inappropriate “sexual” advances that sent him into a rage. However, additional investigation revealed McGee performed landscaping work on the day in question and was dissatisfied with the $26 payment Barrett paid him, causing an argument to ensue. Three other suspects were arrested as accessories after the fact for harboring McGee as a fugitive but were later bonded and released.

DeAnna Tisdale, 24, associate editor of the Jackson Advocate, the oldest Black newspaper in Mississippi that has been bombed several times since the ’60s, said the general consensus is that Barrett got exactly what he deserved. “I disagree with that opinion, wholeheartedly. Regardless of what people said he did in the past, we have no right to judge or sentence,” said the daughter of legendary Black newspaper publisher and long time civil rights activist, Charles Tisdale, who was visited by Barrett—his staunch opponent—on his deathbed.

But not all Blacks agreed with the opinion of the young Tisdale. “Barrett was a psychopathic racist with his contempt for Blacks,” said Earnest McBride, 68, contributing editor of the Advocate. “Although Barrett was very impressive with his delivery, he believed Blacks offered nothing positive to American culture or its history.” McBride said he followed Barrett’s activities for more than a decade.

Barrett also demonstrated at the September 2007 Jena 6 rally in Louisiana, asking the protesters to assist him in holding up a protest sign that read, “No King Shall Triumph Over Me.” Barrett claimed Dr. King would not want a day for Blacks to take off from work but to be given jobs to work.

He also made national news when he welcomed President Obama’s election victory, saying it would spawn race pride among Whites and possibly a race war.

In his self-published book, “The Commission,” in which he touted his beliefs, he tells how and why he decided to protest integration in 1954.

“Nausea hit me in the pit of my stomach. Fear of my country overshadowed me,” he said, of his thoughts on hearing about the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision, which ended school segregation. “Nature not men decreed that Negroes were different,” he wrote. “Those who mingled with colored were as much an aberration as the unwanted bluebird in the redbird’s nest and every bit as disruptive of natural and societal disorder.”

Barry Hackney, national secretary of The Nationalist Movement, said in an e-mailed statement to the AFRO, that while Barrett’s viewpoints might have irked some, they came from deep-seated religious and patriotic values.”

“Like him or not, Richard Barrett lived a selfless life of poverty to serve the cause of constitutional government and freedom,” he wrote. “Though his primary focus was the rights of White Americans, we are all freer because of his efforts in the courts to confront tyranny and stand up for the rights of the people to demonstrate, speak out, and make personal choices. After graduating from Rutgers University, he volunteered for combat in Vietnam, then went to Memphis State Law School. He was a powerful orator before crowds or in a court room. He litigated many notable cases and even won multiple times at the Supreme Court. Barrett never deviated from his Christian faith, and always conformed to the Christian standard of integrity, decency, and clean responsible living.”

(Reprinted from the Afro American.)

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