NEW: After U of Mississippi Ombudsman Paul Caffera refused to participate in an effort to unmask the #UMemails whistleblowers who exposed racist emails between UM leaders & donors, Chancellor Boyce placed him on leave & is looking for a replacement. 1/…
UM "asked Mr. Caffera to divulge confidential information, and threatened (him) with adverse employment action for failure to do so" & "advised Mr. Caffera that it may refer matters to the University Police Department for criminal prosecution.” 2/…
Yesterday, @middleton380 broke the story that the university has terminated Garrett Felber, a tenure-track assistant professor of history who has spoken out against campus ties to private prisons and butted heads with leaders on his work on prisons. 3/…
Before his firing, Garrett Felber criticized the university’s relationship with powerful, racist donors, writing that “the real issue is that (UM) prioritizes racist donors over all else” because “this antiracist program threatens racist donor money.” 4/…
UM English Professor and author @KieseLaymon: “Garrett Felber was fired because he lowered himself to work for a sorry-ass Neo-confederate institution that hates when folks call it a sorry-ass Neo-confederate institution." 5/…
"Incredible colleagues and wonderful students do not a quality institution make,” wrote Laymon, who has repeatedly spoken up about systemic racism on campus. “At least 6 progressive faculty and admin left in the last 2 years. I will be the 7th.” 6/…
Prof. Kiese Laymon on Felber's firing (cont): “We can’t reward sorry ass institutions with our presence when they hide behind our presence when destroying faculty who love our people. The worst of white folks. Now fire me, coward. I dare you.” 7/…
Some faculty members on campus have also interpreted Felber’s firing as an act of retaliation—and fear they could meet the same fate if they speak up about issues on campus.

More than 80 have signed a petition in support of Caffera. 8/…
“The University of Mississippi is not doing away with the Office of the University Ombuds. I am moving expeditiously to name an acting University Ombuds to serve on a temporary basis,” Chancellor Boyce said in an email to faculty yesterday. 9/…
The email gave some the impression that Caffera had been fired; Boyce didn't explain that he had placed him on administrative leave, meaning Caffera continues to receive pay & officially remains an employee but cannot perform the duties of his office. 10/…
Ombudsman Paul Caffera: “University ombuds officers fearlessly carry out their duties on campuses around the country despite knowing ... they risk raising the ire of those who have behaved in ways counter to their campuses’ express values." 11/…
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If you support our work to hold power to account and do vital public interest journalism with a one-time or recurring donation to paywall-free, non-profit journalism at the link. And give @MSFreePress a follow!

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More from @ashtonpittman

16 Dec
Ok @JoeNBC, let's talk college free speech & #CancelCulture, a thread:

1. @OleMiss fired Garrett Felber, a celebrated anti-racism history scholar who spoke up on UM leaders' relationships with 'powerful, racist donors' & ties to mass incarceration.

Campus free speech & cancel culture (cont.):

2. @OleMiss is trying to compel its ombudsman to turn over confidential communications in order to unmask the #UMemails whistleblowers who exposed a web of racism among UM officials and donors.…
Campus free speech & cancel culture (cont.):

3. Faculty fear it's an effort to fire the ombudsman.

"People would be terrified of speaking up because people who speak up get hammered at this university. There is no place to go except the Ombuds office."…
Read 22 tweets
16 Dec
BREAKING: The University of Mississippi fired Garrett Felber, a celebrated tenure-track history professor who spoke up on UM leaders' relationships with "powerful, racist donors" & whose work highlights anti-racism & mass incarceration. By @middleton380:…
This comes amid fears that UM is laying the groundwork to fire Ombudsman Paul Caffera.

UM's Title IX agency is trying to force him to turn over information to unmask the #UMEmails whistleblowers who exposed a web of racism and sexism on campus.…
Please help us continue this work of holding public institutions accountable with a one-time or recurring donation to non-profit, paywall free journalism at
Read 7 tweets
14 Dec
A Mississippi mayor who urged defiant Wiggins residents to wear masks has died of COVID-19.

Mayor Joel Miles "faced many (who) felt it unnecessary to wear one. As he was trying to protect others, not everyone did their part to protect him," wrote his…
“When COVID-19 first appeared, I, myself, said some very ignorant things concerning this awful disease," wrote Mayor Joel Miles' widow, Mary. "But I have learned the hard way this is not a hoax. It is real!"…
While some other Republicans in Mississippi pushed COVID-19 conspiracy theories and spoke up against mask mandates, Mayor Miles embraced masks as a public health tool.

When Gov. Reeves ended the statewide mask order, Mayor Miles instituted a local order.…
Read 5 tweets
14 Dec
This is a load of partisan bull.

1. Mississippi—the only state that did not significantly expand voting access (a "scheme," the governor calls it) in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in 100 years—is one of just THREE states (with MO & OK) that did not exceed 2008 turnout.
2. Other states' election systems were not "upended" with "last-minute schemes" to "radically alter voting methods."

Instead, other states made voting more accessible to all, ensuring historic turnout. That's not a "last-minute scheme." That's democracy.
3. But Mississippi did ensure that many poor rural and Black voters in this state remained effectively disenfranchised—and made many risk their safety by voting in person.
Read 15 tweets
13 Dec
NEW: I knew Charley Pride was a trail blazer as the first Black country superstar. But until I started writing this after learning of his death from COVID-19 earlier today, I didn't realize how many incredible his life story was. Some things I learned: 1/…
Charley Pride was born in Sledge, Miss., in 1934—a town of fewer than 350 people. He walked four miles to a segregated grade school each day while white children passed on buses.

He bought his first guitar with money he earned picking cotton. 2/…
Charley Pride became a country radio star even as RCA released singles that didn't include photos of him.

So when he appeared before a crowd of 10,000 white fans in Detroit, their applause quickly turned to stunned silence upon realizing he was Black. 3/…
Read 10 tweets
12 Dec
You'll probably fail if you simply fight for the Democratic Party in the South.

But if you fight for democracy in the South, which is what @staceyabrams did, you'll change America.
If you overcome race-centric disenfranchisement in the South with democracy, it really would change it all.

Even the GOP would have to change or die. Since the 60s, the GOP has relied heavily on the Southern Strategy—appealing to white racism. Without the South, it doesn't work.
If the GOP suddenly had to listen to the needs of Black southerners and other southerners of color in order to have a chance at winning the South (and thus the electoral college), neither the Southern strategy nor Trumpism would work any longer.
Read 9 tweets

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