Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mayoral Candidate Found Dead After Going Missing For Two Days

This morning I read an article on USA Today (which can be accessed here) about Marco McMillian, a Clarksdale, Mississippi mayoral candidate, whose body was found on Wednesday morning at around 8:30. He had been missing since Tuesday. The candidate’s body was found near the Mississippi-Yazoo levy about 30 miles away from where his car crashed after being driven by someone else. McMillian, a native of Clarksdale, was living in Memphis until several months ago when he returned to his hometown to run for mayor. I was shocked and confused while reading this article, and, frankly, stunned that this article was printed with such little concrete information and so few solid facts.
As one of the first openly gay and political candidates and an LGBT advocate in Mississippi, McMillian was CEO of WMW & Associates, a consulting firm for non-profit organizations. He secured the first federal contract to raise awareness about the impact of HIV and AIDS in communities of color. As such a prominent public figure, McMillian’s death came as a shock to many, even in such a conservative, predominantly Republican state. Initially, I believed this to be a hate crime, against either racism or sexuality. However, this didn’t make me understand the circumstances anymore; while it is still early in the investigation and many questions still need to be answered, I wonder why this is happening at all. I believe that violent acts against racism or sexuality should have ended years ago. There is no excuse for such actions to still be an issue.
One problem I have with this article is the fact that there is simply not enough information present to determine what type of crime this was. Was it a hate crime against race or sexuality? What was the relationship between McMillian and Lawrence Reed, “a person of interest taken into custody”? Was this a domestic crime? There are simply too many questions to assume this was a hate crime. However, none of this excuses the facts of McMillian’s race and sexuality in such a conservative state. According to Coahoma Country Coroner Scotty Meredith, “politics likely wasn’t a factor in McMillian’s death.” Furthermore, McMillian’s spokesman for his campaign Jarod Keith stated the candidate was openly gay, but it never came up during the campaign. That being said, this was still an act of extreme violence, one that floored me.
What do you think? Was this an act against racism and/or sexuality, or simply “regular” homicide as the police suggest?


  1. Well this candidate certainly had a lot of things going for him being Black and Gay along with being in the South. This all was probably a factor in his death if it wasn’t political. What was said about him not being mentioned to much in newspaper reports is quite interesting as it seems he was pivotal part of his community but yet it seems that they really don’t care to much about the investigation. It was probably not a regular homicide because usually there’s a factor for the cause of a death and the way his body was found so far away that the person who did it wished to hide what they did. After reading the article I could see a local of the community that was angered by the fact that a gay Black male was running for mayor was most likely the perpetrator.

  2. I strongly doubt this was simply "regular" homicide because a person running for mayor typically does not just get killed randomly. Although for every political race there is an opponent and an opponent's followers who obviously do not want the other candidate to win, in today's society the answer would not be to kill off the opponent. Therefore, that leads me to believe it was either a crime against racism or sexuality because McMillian was African American and openly gay. To me, this is very sad because neither of the two should be enough motive to kill someone. If this was a racial hate crime, this story relates perfectly to my first blog that there is still a lot left undone in the Civil Rights Movement because innocent people are still being killed simply because of their race. I will definitely be following up on this story to see if any more details come out.

  3. I think this case also speaks to the unique difficulty of homosexuality within the black community. The idea of black manhood, something addressed by Dr. Ogbar in his lectures about hip-hop, has created an environment in which status is predicated on a specific male identity, an often misogynistic and homophobic one. Indeed, the secrecy and taboos surrounding black gay culture are often pointed to as a reason for higher rates of HIV transmission in black communities. To be at this intersection of race and sexuality, and open about it, seems like a clear reason for McMillian's death. The fact that the investigators seem unwilling to address this as a possible hate crime demonstrates the public's antipathy to what McMillian represented. Furthermore, the investigators appear engaged in victim-blaming, suggesting that McMillian's death is because of sexual advances on a straight man or a "lovers' quarrel" between two passionate gay men, reasoning that was long used to sweep violence against gays under the rug.