Groups Call for Henson, Smith to Resign

By: Rachel Alig Email
By: Rachel Alig Email

The Meridian-Lauderdale County chapter of the NAACP and the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion are calling for two city council members to resign.

The organizations protested at the Meridian City Council Tuesday night, prior to confirmation votes on a new police chief and fire chief.

At a Wednesday news conference, the groups called for the resignations of Ward 5's Bobby Smith and Barbara Henson of Ward 3.

"The committee is extremely disappointed with the votes cast by councilperson Barbara Henson, Ward 3, who had expressed a desire to delay the vote on the appointment of Lee Shelbourn, and from Bobby Smith, both of whom had expressed the importance of gathering further information on Shelbourn before their vote was cast," said Milton Johnson, president of the NAACP.

Smith and Henson, along with with Ward 1 councilman, Dr. George Thomas, all of whom are white, voted to confirm the mayor's appointment of Lee Shelbourn by Mayor Cheri Barry to be police chief. Ward 2's Mary Perry and Ward 4 councilman, Jesse Palmer, Sr., who are black, opposed the appointment.

The groups say they are not satisfied with Shelbourn, who is white. He is replacing the city's first black police chief, Benny Dubose, who was appointed by the previous mayor. Barry was elected in June.

The groups also say they are upset about what they call lack of diversity in Barry's appointments across the board.

"In addition we are very disappointed with Mayor Barry's lack of fulfillment of her campaign promise for diversity and inclusion," said Johnson.

The local NAACP and Committee for Diversity and Inclusion said they want to hold Mayor Barry responsible for the campaign she ran.

Both Shelbourn and new fire chief, Anthony Clayton, who is black, say race is not a factor for them.

"I see no race. Firefighting is firefighting. She picked me because she thought I was the best person," said Clayton.

"It's a moot point. I treat everyone firm, fair, and consistently," Shelbourn said.


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  • by WTOK on Oct 10, 2009 at 09:47 PM
    Editor's note: Actually, Benny Dubose was appointed by the previous mayor to be chief of police about 8 years ago. There were a couple of police promotions made in the last weeks of the previous administration that were rescinded by Mayor Barry after she took office.
  • by Christopher W. Stone Location: Meridian on Oct 10, 2009 at 01:28 AM
    It amazes to me that 1 group, the NAACP, thinks they can push out 2 democratically elected officials for not delaying the political process. The reason for elections is to change the political landscape of a community & this is what the Mayor is doing.Dubose was appointed by a previous administration immediately before the Berry took office.If the former Mayor had so much confidence in Dubose why did he wait years to appoint him?The only reason the NAACP has given for not being satisfied with Shelbourn is the color of his skin. The NAACP has expressed concern about the lack of diversity in Berry’s appointments.I would like to ask the NAACP a question. What would Berry have to do to satisfy your group?The only thing I believe that will satisfy the NAACP is for Berry to resign or for her to switch parties. African Americans have suffered for years because people have judged them not on their merit but on their skin color. It is time for this community to stop the infighting and join as 1
  • by Give Me a Break on Sep 22, 2009 at 03:04 PM
    To Loretta...don't pretend to know me. You have no idea what I have and have not worked for in my life. I won't pretend to know you either. I am just posting on your comments and making observations about what I see everyday. You are welcome to pick apart my comments but do not speculate on my life. If you want to make the perceptions that white people have of AA's, again I ask you as I do myself, go out and volunteer, help your neighbors, or all of the unwed school aged mothers in our community who continue to bring up en-educated, ill-mannered, un-prepared kids who will more than likely follow in their mother's or absent father's footsteps.
  • by Chelle Location: Meridian on Sep 20, 2009 at 06:39 PM
    Leah,how can Bobby Smith and Henson sue the NAACP for slander? The NAACP told the true. Barbara Henson and Bobby Smith are both liar.
  • by Loretta Location: Meridian on Sep 20, 2009 at 06:35 PM
    allen01,go find a real job!!!
  • by elections have consequences Location: meridian on Sep 20, 2009 at 04:31 PM
    Mary Perry & Jessie Palmer are the racist on the council. The 3 white councilmen voted for the black police chief and his nomination passed 5-0. Both black councilmen voted against the white police chief. Certain blacks (NAACP) don't care about the quality of candidates, their only concern is that they all be black. If the white people started the NAAWP (for the advancement of white people, it would be considered a RACIST organization. The NAACP should also be considered a Racist organization, because IT IS A RACIST organigation. Martin Luther King's dream was that race plyed no factor in any decision. Race is the only factor of the NAACP. They even fired Walter Patton as President because he got some white members involved. That lets you know how they feel about EQUALITY. A promient Black minister played the most signifacant role in helping BARRY get elected. Her Black support was because of him. He has been unusually quiet. I wonder why. If he turns againt her, she's out in four years
  • by Anonymous Location: Meridian on Sep 19, 2009 at 01:27 PM
    Last time I looked, Anthony Clayton did not appear to be white, so what's the problem?! Cheri didn't pick all whites...WAKE UP & SHUT UP!
  • by A Friend Location: Meridian Area on Sep 18, 2009 at 09:58 PM
    We are Americians!We are Mississippians!We are Lauderdale Countains!Not about racisim?Then why are we so upset over the white guy Mayor Barry selected to head the police department? It is rather obvious that we haven't heard much complaints about the africian-american chosen to head the fire department!!Rather than trying to stir up trouble about who got what, use your efforts to be busy winning lost souls to Christ!Afterall,isn't that the most important thing we can do with our lives? To live Christlike is more important than bickering over who got what in the appointments for police and fire chiefs.Most of you who are complaing about these appointments are religious people or claim to be. Christ promotes peace not turmoil!He wants us to live together in harmony! We are no longer living in the 60's;"wake-up" it is not about race anymore. It is about education, experience and who is best qualified for the job!!Look at your President-racism?--I don't think so!
  • by Over this Location: Meridian on Sep 18, 2009 at 04:38 PM
    Just a thought...why don't we get a group and protest outside the NAACP bldg. and at that womans office(if she has one) ...they are the most racist group alive and the very ones along with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpston....they can't get a real job so they go around the country stirring unrest....
  • by 4 Real Location: Meridian on Sep 18, 2009 at 02:53 PM
    Stella, Stella, Stella, there are just as many poor WP (your kind) as there are poor AAs. (my kind) The only differences-AAs have always been poor and we know how to deal with it,(we eat the entire hog). WP have always had everything and they can't deal with it.(you eat high on the hog). Again, you really need to substantiate your facts and not do so much mudslinging. To White Man Coming-Welcome back, things in Meridian haven't changed much since you left, except that me and my kind are proud home owners in North Meridian, there are very few maids and yard boys of my kind out there now. We're moving on up!
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