Beyond the BubbleMississippi

A New Era in Mississippi Politics: The Blackmon Brothers’ Ascent

March 5, 2024

Sen. Bradford Blackmon and Rep. Lawrence Blackmon

By Pamela Goldsmith

Political family legacies. While names like Adams, Rockefeller, Kennedy, and Bush are widely familiar, lesser-known families like the Blackmons of Mississippi forged their own political legacy. In November 2023, Lawrence and Bradford Blackmon assumed the mantle of their parents’ state legislative roles.

Representative Ed Blackmon (MS – D) and Senator Barbara Blackmon (MS – D), a husband-and-wife team serving in Mississippi’s House and Senate, decided to withdraw their names for reelection. That decision left their two children as uncontested candidates on the ballot. 

Lawrence, the newly minted Mississippi State Representative, acknowledges the influential role his family played in shaping his values and career aspirations. He says his father’s approach to addressing issues like redistricting left a lasting impact on Mississippi, influencing his commitment to fighting for what he feels is right, even when it may not be popular. 

Since part of Ed Blackmon’s legacy was working to prevent Mississippians from being under-represented in the state Legislature, his sons plan to make efforts to ensure the state’s redistricting maps accurately reflect the reality of its changing demographics. Mississippi has a growing Black population, which is the largest Black population percentage of any state in the country. 

“I’ve always held an admiration for people who serve in a political capacity,” said Lawrence. “Seeing my dad as a legislator who had done so much over a long period of time helped me recognize that I too had something to give to the people not only of my district, but to the state of Mississippi.”

While Lawrence’s path to politics was influenced by his family’s political legacy, Bradford, now a Mississippi State Senator, pursued a different route. A former football player at the University of Pennsylvania turned lawyer, Bradford found inspiration in his parents’ example of selfless service. His family’s commitment to their community left a lasting impression on him.

“As I thought about the many things they’ve accomplished by fighting for what they believed in and did so on behalf of other people, I realized the extent of their sacrifice and loyalty to Mississippi,” said Bradford. “It definitely guided my decision to return to my home state for law school.”

The Blackmon brothers, both members of Future Caucus, expressed their intent to emphasize the importance of building bridges across party lines to help advance bills and make an impact in the Legislature. Lawrence believes Mississippi’s politics, despite having a Republican supermajority, provides a lot of opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to work together on issues affecting the state’s citizens.

“If you follow national politics, I think the trend is to highlight, especially in the media, the divisiveness in politics,” said Lawrence. He says what he is seeing in Mississippi is that we’re not nearly as divided on most issues as people might think.

“I believe we can always find common ground. I try to keep my focus on that and forget some of the outside noise about red and blue and elephants and donkeys, Republicans and Democrats.”

Bradford, sharing his brother’s sentiment, stresses the need for more robust civics education to enhance public understanding of the political process. He believes fostering engagement at the local and state levels is crucial, as these elections often have a more direct impact on people’s lives.

“Many people don’t understand what kind of an effect statewide elections have on districts or the level of complexity involved in getting one single bill passed while working on other multiple pieces of policy,” said Bradford. 

Two months into their legislative roles, the brothers say they look forward to working on bipartisan legislation that aligns with their shared values.

Initiating his first piece of legislation on February 2, Bradford introduced Senate Bill 2217, requiring the State to remove a painting in the dome of the Mississippi Capitol showing two generals in uniform raising a Confederate flag. The bill further proposes setting up a commission to recommend a replacement that represents all Mississippians.

S.B. 2217 is in the Rules Committee, chaired by Sen. Dean Kirby, (MS – R). If it passes out of committee and the Senate votes in approval, then Gov. Tate Reeves would need to sign the bill into law.

Both express optimism about Mississippi’s political environment, stressing the potential for increased unity despite national polarization. They hope to reinvigorate and rebrand their party in Mississippi, working to craft messages that resonate with a broader audience and fostering a new coalition across the state. They also see their generational difference in the Legislature as a positive, offering a new perspective to state politics. 

“When the governor said that there was something special happening in Mississippi, I think he’s right,” said Lawrence. “And I think that the ability of Democrats and Republicans to work together on most issues affecting Mississippians is promising. I intend to focus on consensus.”

Rep. Sara Jacobs


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