JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Republican front-runner in the 2019 Mississippi Governor’s race has been thrown into a national controversy over yearbook photos viewed as racist.
Tate Reeves, who is running for governor in this fall’s election, was in Kappa Alpha Order at Millsaps College in Jackson. A 1993 yearbook lists him as a freshman that year, and he was featured as a Kappa Alpha member starting in the 1994 yearbook.
The fraternity, which is still active at Millsaps, looks to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as its spiritual leader.
In Millsaps’ 1995 yearbook, a photograph of Reeves appears next to a photo of five other members in fraternity T-shirts and what appears to be blackface, three of them also wearing Confederate flags on their heads and another showing dozens of members dressed as Confederate soldiers. The photos do not show Reeves in blackface.
The images were first uncovered and published by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge on its website, the American Ledger.
This comes after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to donning blackface at parties during their undergraduate careers, leading many to call for their resignations
Reeves’s Communication Director Laura Hipp issued a statement:
“As a quick Google search will show, Lt. Gov. Reeves was a member of Kappa Alpha Order. Like every other college student, he did attend costume formals and other parties, and across America, Kappa Alpha’s costume formal is traditionally called Old South in honor of the civil war veteran who founded the fraternity in the 1800s.”
Gov. Phil Bryant was asked about the photos while touring the new Continental Tire plant with U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. He said that he had not seen or read anything from that report.
“If that took place with someone within a fraternity, certainly I would condemn that. I think that’s the wrong thing that would happen there and as it happened in Virginia," said Bryant. "I don’t know anything about that. I’ve learned over the years to get information before I make any comment.”
A Mason-Dixon poll released Wednesday showed Reeves with a 53-point lead in the GOP primary but indicated a dead heat between Reeves and Jim Hood, the Democratic attorney general, in the general election.
The Mississippi gubernatorial primary is Aug. 6.