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Less than 45 years ago, marriage between blacks and whites was illegal, and it has been frowned upon for much of the time since. He was in a serious relationship with a woman who was white and Asian. But on visits to Hattiesburgthe younger Mr.

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T he first song Krista Hinman learned to play on the piano was Dixiethe de facto battle hymn of the Confederate States of America. She learned the minstrel-song-turned-slavery-anthem growing up in Southaven, Mississippi, a predominantly white suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. Born inshe admits to regularly dropping the N-word and delighting in racist jokes with friends. She also defended the Confederate flag and monuments. Still, while watching the TV show In the Heat of the Night when she was a kid, she quipped that she might bring home a black boyfriend, angering her father.

Many white southerners had adopted an uneven racial code since violent responses to civil rights gains in the s. She made liberal friends. Her friend Kiki described growing up on the black side of their wealthy college town, where whites seldom ventured and children enjoyed fewer opportunities.

Hinman came to believe that racism is not just interpersonal name-calling, but systemic denial of equity and equality — in education, the workplace, political representation, housing, healthcare and everyday life. Hinman realized that many whites are conditioned to believe lies that people of color were biologically inferior, more prone to crime, lazier.

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Today, she s a growing chorus of Mississippians of wildly different backgrounds eager to talk about their racial miseducation in the hope to help bridge US racial divides — and that requires unexpurgated truth. She now believes that the Mississippi flag and public Confederate statues memorialize oppression.

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Paradoxically, Mississippi is probably the site of the most race dialogues in the country, at least per capita. We build a bridge of trust.

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And white people — including progressives who think they have it figured out — need to show up and listen to make it happen, she says. Glisson applauds the public outing of white supremacists who rioted in Charlottesville in Bob Fuller, 56, was a middle school principal in nearby Starkville, Mississippi, when he had an epiphany. Two black teachers there had the last name Coleman — the same name as his slave-owning ancestor.

Most were yeoman farmers and loggers, but the Coleman ancestors owned slaves.

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In his Mississippi history class inhe heard no mention of the freedom fighters who had transformed the state a dozen years earlier. It took relationships with teachers and families of color to remake him, he says. A year into the war, the Confederacy voted to allow men who owned 20 or more slaves to stay home.

As a principal, Fuller decided to quietly fly the US instead of the state flag — which incorporates the Confederate battle — at his middle school. It was fine until a father, a Virginia native, noticed. Fuller refused, saying district staff would have to hoist it daily, which they did. Robert Brown faces Fuller, his arms crossedfrom an identical sofa.

Brown, 44, is the son of a bootlegger, later adopted by a black woman who raised him to want more.

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He now owns the Straight Line Barbershop, but regardless of his present success, Brown wishes he had gone to college. Every chance he gets, he shares with white people what Confederate emblems represent to black Americans. He protested against the state flag flying over a tornado memorial service where the governor spoke, then unsuccessfully tried to convince city hall to stop flying it on public property. The flag and the Confederate statue in the middle of an intersection in nearby Louisville near his barbershop, tell black people they are still subservient.

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By the end of the conversation, Fuller and Brown make plans for a dinner with other like-minded thinkers. Laurie Myatt, 49, lives in a suburb of Jackson. She no longer lives in the closed-minded society of rural Raleigh, Mississippi. She escaped Smith county, where the N-word is still common, years ago when she found a larger circle of friends and ideas at Mississippi State.

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Myatt started thinking about her own interactions over race and the Confederate flag after reading my Guardian article about Mississippians who still embrace it. She reached out to a black engineer friend who described the pain of seeing a white kid with a rebel flag on their vehicle. She then asked white friends with similar education. Her father managed a garment factory and integrated hiring when she was.

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But she also recalls running into a former family housekeeper in a grocery story; thrilled, the black woman lifted her in the air and kissed her. She now hopes to help other white people unlearn false beliefs about black inferiority. One time, a fireman saw her Obama bumper sticker and started talking about his guns, which she took as a veiled threat. A cross was burned in his yard after her father, a coach, integrated a public school basketball team in Florida.

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New to Mississippi, she noticed the state flag flying at the Oceans Springs yacht club and shook her head. But in Junethe photo of Dylann Roof holding a rebel flag horrified her. Inshe started the Mississippi Rising Coalition in part to educate people on what the flag stands for — white supremacy — using the TakeItDownMS hashtag.

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Local white supremacists are not happy with her mission. In the video, masked Klansmen stand in front of burning crosses.

Is Campbell afraid? Right after he walks into the backyard waving at all his new liberal friends — white, black, Asian, LGBT — she takes him inside and pours him a tall glass of tequila. The state flag flew outside the Oceans Springs hospital, where he came into the world.

Black and white and married in the deep south: a shifting image

The sandblasting and painting contractor does not believe the flag is racist per se, but that the Klan and neo-Nazis co-opted it. During the civil war, where one of his ancestors fought, the flag supported troops on the battlefield, nothing more, he says. But she invited him into her family home to talk peacefully, to try to reconcile. My heart opened up.

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Be embraces both strategies Susan Glisson says are necessary for effective transformation across race barriers: building respectful relationships with deep listening while being brutally honest about the symbols of ongoing white supremacy. She called McFall and asked him to dinner, then introduced him to the diverse crowd drawn to Mississippi Rising.

As McFall talks, he sees one of the black activists at the cookout headed to the door with her young daughter and her elderly mother-in-law. After the interview, McFall s Campbell on her front porch for a photo. The white southerners who changed their views on racism. Bartender Krista Hinman grew up a racist, she now admits openly.

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But she now speaks out loudly in Mississippi against white supremacy. Donna Ladd with pictures by Delreco Harris. Mon 8 Oct Was she racist herself? Topics Race Slavery Mississippi features. Reuse this content.