The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Delta Caucus Condemns Bigoted Statements of 3 Arkansas Politicians--Oct. 12, 2012

Posted on October 13, 2012 at 05:13 PM

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil… Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Protestant theologian who lost his life opposing Hitler and Nazism.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus condemns the bigoted statements made by three Arkansas politicians this week. “We are a diverse, tolerant organization, and we believe that these comments are the prejudiced views of a tiny minority and do not reflect the point of view of the vast majority of people in Arkansas,” said Lee Powell, Caucus director.

State Representative Jon Hubbard, R-Jonesboro said that slavery was actually beneficial for African Americans. When Governor Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel criticized his views, Rep. Hubbard said that Beebe and McDaniel’s comments were reminiscent of “how Hitler took control of the minds of the German people in the 1930s.”

Rep. Hubbard said that “this reeks of Nazi-style political intimidation.”

The Delta Caucus partners believe that we have made great progress in race relations in the past half century, and we must repudiate the few remaining extremists who want to turn the clock back to the racist past.

Mr. Hubbard is an embarrassment to the state of Arkansas. He should apologize and resign from the Arkansas legislature. We cannot have state legislators who make ignorant comments that could damage our reputation, discourage businesses from investing in our region, and offend the great majority of our people.

Republican state House candidate Fuqua of Batesville and Rep. Loy Mauch, R-Bismarck, have also drawn criticism from both parties in recent weeks for their writings. Fuqua wrote in a book titled “God’s Law” published this year that all Muslims in the United States should be expelled and suggested using the death penalty on rebellious children.

Representative Mauch wrote in a letter to the editor to a Little Rock newspaper in 2001 that President Abraham Lincoln was a terrorist.

The Delta Caucus praises leaders of both parties, such as Gov. Beebe, Attorney General McDaniel, Republican Congressmen Tim Griffin and Rick Crawford, who sharply criticized these comments. This has nothing to do with partisanship, and is only the product of the bigotry of a few extremists.

We will be holding a regional conference on Oct. 23-24 at Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, when we will have President Beverly Robertson of the National Civil Rights Museum, many other advocates of civil rights and diversity. Approximately 35% to 40% of the Delta Caucus members are African Americans, and we have other members from different minorities.

There are many Delta Caucus partners who have poignant life stories regarding the quest for racial understanding and civil rights. Clifton Avant, a member of the Board of Directos of the Delta Caucus and for many years an executive at Entergy in Louisiana and now president of AvanTech Services in Marion, Arkansas, said “We must put a stop to this kind of bigotry.”

Clifton Avant is an African American who was in the ninth grade in Earle, Arkansas, when the Earle schools were first integrated. “I knew firsthand of the racial prejudice by some of our people at that time, but I want to emphasize that we have tremendously improved and race relations in the Delta are now vastly superior to what they were in the days of Jim Crow.”

Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell is the son of the late James O. Powell, editor of the Arkansas Gazette from the late 1950s to the late 1980s and a stalwart opponent of the segregationist demagogue, Gov. Orval Faubus. James O. Powell was subjected to death threats because of his vocal opposition to Faubus’ demagogy in the late 1950s and on into the early 1960s, when the Gazette endorsed the landmark civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965.

Lee Powell said “I recall getting bullied when I was a kid because my father was one of the few prominent white leaders who publicly opposed Faubus, and the great majority of the other kids thought Faubus was a hero.”

Regarding the bigotry against Muslims, Laymon Jones is chairman of the Inspire Hope Institute and one of the leading American citizens in promoting good relations between the United States of America and the Philippines. Laymon Jones has been one of the most active Delta Caucus leaders for many years now, and while he of course adamantly opposes Islamic extremists just as all Americans do, he also knows many Muslims in the Philippines who are perfectly reasonable, moderate people.

Lumping all Muslims together is tremendously damaging to the United States in our war against terrorism, because moderate, reasonable Muslims are our potential allies. We condemn Muslim extremists but not all Muslims.

Laymon Jones is the United States Goodwill Ambassador at Large for the Southern Muslim Unity Development Association. He has made numerous trips to the Philippines to meet with high-level officials and work toward cooperation among Muslims and Christians in that country. His wife is a prominent Filipino judge in California and he was a good friend of the late Maria Haley, economic development director for the state of Arkansas and a native of the Philippines.

We have many leaders of both parties who support civil rights and understanding among the racial, ethnic and religious groups of our region, including Rex Nelson, former Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, former senior aide to Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and now president of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities.