Trent Lott, 2002 News

Senator from Mississippi, gave up his bid for a second round as Senate Majority leader in December after an outcry about his pro-segregationist remarks at the 100th birthday party for Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Lott congratulated the former 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidate with the following: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we [in Mississippi] voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.” Lott declined to pursue the post of floor leader only after several vague and evasive apologies failed in their desired effect—Lott, for example, claimed that by “these problems” he was referring to Thurmond's anticommunism and budget plans rather than to his staunch segregationist platform, the lifeblood of the Dixiecrat party. After the media dug up past similar remarks by Lott, it became clear that he was not simply guilty of a single reprehensible remark but of an entrenched pattern of hostility towards civil rights.

2002 People in the News