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Natchez mayoral candidate disgusted by ‘smear campaign’

NATCHEZ — Natchez mayoral candidate Dan Gibson posted a live video on social media Thursday evening to counteract an anticipated smear campaign he said was brewing.

Gibson said he learned from word of mouth that a group in Natchez started to label him as racist based on his campaign history while he was running for Mississippi governor in 1999.

“Just one week ago I began my campaign to be the next mayor of Natchez and one week later the smear campaign has already started,” Gibson said in the video. “… As of today, people are labeling me and calling me a racist. This race for mayor is very important to me, and I take this seriously. I want to confront this allegation head-on.”

While he was mayor of Crystal Springs, Gibson said he was invited to speak to a group of conservatives labeled Council of Conservative Citizens during his 1999 race for Mississippi Governor. Gibson said he learned after the fact that the group had ties to the Citizens’ Councils — a white supremacist organization founded in the 1950s.

“There was actually a political rally going on during that time,” Gibson said. “I was a young mayor running for governor and I was going everywhere. … It turned out later that this group had tie-ins to this organization called the White Citizens Council. … I was very surprised to learn of their affiliation with this group.”

Gibson said his history of supporting friends of color in various political and social platforms throughout his life should disprove any allegations of racism.

“I was disgusted to learn that this smear campaign was going on,” he said. “I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes, but one thing that I know I am not is a racist.”

In the video, Gibson said he did speak to the Council of Conservative Citizens, but he said that alone does not make him a racist.

“I went. I was there. And now a smear campaign has begun, saying that qualifies me as a racist,” Gibson said in his video. “… Smear campaigns will not work, because smear campaigns only want to brush the surface in order to make it where someone can’t win. But smear campaigns based on lies will never win.”