Cindy Hyde-Smith Reportedly Attended an All-White High School to Avoid Integration

United States Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, whose ongoing re-election campaign has been embroiled in controversy since she made a racially-charged comment earlier this month about public hangings, reportedly attended an all-white private high school in the 1970s that was designed to prevent integration.

Yearbook photos from 1975 obtained by the Jackson Free Press show that Hyde-Smith attended Lawrence County Academy, an all-white school founded in 1970 that was located in Monticello, Mississippi.

In 1969, the year prior to the academy's opening, the Supreme Court ordered the state's public schools to be desegregated after they failed to do so following Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, which found segregation to be unconstitutional. The private school was reportedly created for the white children of affluent families so that they could continue to attend all-white institutions.

Hyde-Smith graduated from the academy in 1977, according to the Free Press.

The same year that Lawrence County Academy was created, Brookhaven Academy, reportedly another school intended for all-whites at the time, was started in neighboring Lincoln County. The Free Press reported that Hyde-Smith recently sent her daughter to Brookhaven, from which she graduated in 2017.

Although no longer an all-white school, Brookhaven had 386 white students, 5 Asian students, three Hispanic students and one black student during the 2015-2016 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The county was roughly 68 percent white, according to U.S. Census Bureau Statistics from 2016.

A spokesperson for the campaign, Melissa Scallan, told Newsweek in an email on Saturday that the "liberal media" had "stooped to a new low" in regard to the report by the Free Press. Scallan did not deny that Hyde-Smith and her daughter attended the schools.

"In their latest attempt to help Mike Espy, the gotcha liberal media has taken leave of their senses," Scallan said. "They have stooped to a new low, attacking her entire family and trying to destroy her personally instead of focusing on the clear differences on the issues between Cindy Hyde-Smith and her far-left opponent."

Hyde-Smith and her African-American opponent, former Democratic Congressman Mike Espy, will head to a runoff election on Tuesday. If elected, Espy would become the state's first black senator since the Reconstruction Era in the late-1800s. In 1986, he became the state's first black congressman since Reconstruction.

Hyde-Smith has faced backlash ever since she made racially-charged remarks during a campaign appearance on November 2 where she made reference to a "public hanging."

"If he invited me to a public hanging, I would be on the front row," Hyde-Smith said of a local cattle rancher and supporter.

"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row"- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith says in Tupelo, MS after Colin Hutchinson, cattle rancher, praises her.

Hyde-Smith is in a runoff on Nov 27th against Mike Espy.

— Lamar White, Jr. (@LamarWhiteJr) November 11, 2018

President Donald Trump defended her comments by saying they were made in a joking manner.

"She made a statement, which I know she feels badly about it, and it was just sort of said in jest," Trump said. "She is a tremendous woman and it is a shame that she has to go through this."

During a debate with Espy on November 20, Hyde-Smith responded with an apology. But she quickly accused Espy of twisting her words for political gain.

"For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize," Hyde-Smith said. "There was no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my statement…This comment was twisted, and it was turned into a political weapon to be used against me, used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent."

Espy objected to the notion that he or anyone "twisted" her words.

"No one twisted your comments," Espy said. "It came out of your mouth. I don't know what's in your heart, but we all know what came out of your mouth."

Cindy Hyde-Smith Reportedly Attended an All-White High School to Avoid Integration
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith stands on stage with President Donald Trump at a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images