Openly Gay Mississippi Mayoral Candidate Found Dead
This Jan. 20, 2007 photo (below) shows Marco McMillian, 34, a candidate for mayor of Clarksdale, Miss., who was found dead on the Mississippi River levee Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 between Sherard and Rena Lara, Miss. (SOURCE: AP Photo/The Clarksdale Press Register, Troy Catchings)
The death of Marco McMillian, a candidate for the mayor of Clarkdale, Miss., has stunned the town's residents, as well as people across the country, the Huffington Post reported yesterday.
Scotty Meredith, the Coahoma County Coroner, told media that McMillian’s body was found Wednesday near on the bank of the Mississippi River. McMillian had been missing since early Tuesday.
McMillian had gained attention as a promising young leader for the state of Mississippi. During his time serving as international executive director of the historically black fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, he met a younger Barack Obama and then-President Bill Clinton.
A longtime friend of McMillian’s, Sissiretta Melton, spoke of his potential. "He knew this town needed him. Kids here have nothing. We don't even have a decent movie theater. He wanted to bring those things here,” she said.
Jarod Keith, McMillian’s campaign spokesman, noted that his mayoral bid was especially significant because he may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in Mississippi. “Marco was aware that he was going to make history if he won,” Keith said. “That was definitely on his radar, but that certainly wasn't the focus.”
One man, Lawrence Reed, has been charged with murder in the death of McMillian. Authorities have not released any possible motive.
McMillian’s campaign team released a statement Wednesday on its Facebook fan page:
“Words cannot describe our grief at the loss of our dear friend, Marco McMillian. The shocking news of Marco’s death is beyond difficult for us to process. We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith informed every aspect of his life. Tragically, that life has been cut short. At this time of loss, we ask that you keep the family and loved ones of Marco in your prayers.”
A “homegoing celebration” will be held Saturday, March 9, at Coahoma Community College, according to a post by his mother on his Facebook page.
Christine Dickason is a Communications Intern with Campus Progress. You can follow her on Twitter @cdickason11.