Writer mis-characterized me, my actions

Published 12:35 am Sunday, August 6, 2017

I am writing in response to Roy F. King’s Aug. 3 Top of the Morning

Having served in the U.S. Army National Guard, I commend King for his service. The military is close to my heart.  I am the son of the late Sam West who had seven of 12 sons who served in the military. While serving as Mayor of Natchez, two of my brothers passed away with military service illnesses. Their military service (Vietnam veterans) cost them their lives.

Referencing King’s comments about racism and having numerous blacks in elected leadership positions is nice. He should know none of the positions held by these persons were attained voluntarily by the majority of persons who were in positions of power (elected) in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, etc.

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We had to fight for our right to vote in the streets of Natchez and the U.S. Federal Courts that led to the diverse representation we have today, including the Rev. Shed Baldwin, the Rev. Henry Russell, George West, Sr., Wharlest Jackson, George Metcalf, Charles Evers, Barney Schoby, the Rev. Leon Howard, Bill Batieste, Judge Mary Toles, George Hardin, W.L. Nelson, Thomas “Boo” Campbell, Leola Newell, W.S. Scott, Archie Curtis, Ben Chester White, Mamie Lee Mazique, John Fitzgerald, Kayte Dukes, W.C. Mazique, Theodore West, Joyce A. Mathis, Robert Johnson, the Rev. William Morrissey, Theodore C. Johnson, William H. Terrell, Jerry Lyles, Bob Lee Williams, the Rev. James Stokes, Harry Gaylor, Jessie B. Williams, R.T. King, Leroy Hunt and yours truly and many more King has probably never met.

King proceeded to mis-characterize me as living in the past and being a bigot. I would be justified in being so from my experience of almost losing my life at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan in January 1965, but my complete record would show otherwise. I challenge anyone to find any Caucasian person who can truthfully say I mistreated them or discriminated against them while serving as president of Adams County Board of Supervisors, state representative and chair of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, mayor of the City of Natchez, chairman of the Adams County Democratic Party or chairman of the Mississippi Municipal League Legislative Committee among other organizations.  The only discrimination complaint ever filed against me was by a black person claiming I treated him unfairly because he was black.

The un-Christian remark made in the school board meeting was the result of some petitioners acting uncivilized, using foul language from the audience as I tried to exercise my constitutional right to free speech. Christians, in my opinion do not conduct themselves in that manner. Scripture tells us to “love thy neighbor as thyself” and only the “truth shall make us free.” I try to live my life that way.

I am quite sure King has never been denied the right to vote, a job, a promotion, a bank loan, to attend the school of his choice or his right to free speech because he is “white.”  So it may be hard for him to understand.

I hope and pray things will get better for us all.
Phillip C. West is a Natchez-Adams School Board member and former Alcorn State University Student activist, NAACP President, member of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, Mississippi State Representative and Mayor of the City of Natchez.