Published 7:12 pm Saturday, January 26, 2019

By Yolande Robbins

This past week I took part in two memorable events, one rejoicing, the other, grieving. Both profoundly dealt with entitlement and the touted but far from actual movement of the Deep South, and Mississippi especially, to give credit where credit is due.

In my life here, so much was not possible. But on Monday, this deep southern city yielded itself to honor a black man, its first elected black mayor, an academic and scholar, an activist and participant, and a scrupulously honest and honorable man by naming a building for him — and not just a building, but part of its primary public place.

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Because he’s entitled to it.

But not by entitlement of race. He didn’t get it because he was white or rich. He didn’t get it because of a passed-on prerogative. He didn’t inherit it or descend from it. He earned it. It was his because he had earned it.

Some time ago, the black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates had written of our current president that he was the consummate proof of white privilege. He declared that his ascent to the presidency was the consummate white privilege; that nothing else mattered if you were white. Proof, Coates had argued, that intellect didn’t matter; grace didn’t matter; dignity didn’t matter; the ability to speak and write well didn’t matter. What mattered was that you were white.

If that were the case, all could be accepted; all could be forgiven; all could be ignored. But the use of white privilege was present and paramount. And proof that it’s still here and working.

Mayor Robert Walker’s honor in having that building be named for him could not have been better nor more well deserved. Kudos to Mayor George Flaggs for doing it. But so many buildings and places are named for those who haven’t deserved it — and don’t.

It’s simply not proof that the South has changed when it honors black men who deserve it, and other men who do not.

And consider too that this event was mostly attended by blacks — in many ways expected, I guess — but where were all the others?

Where were the rest of us?

Being rescued only two days later by a child in a church wearing school colors.

He had come to speak on behalf of his family and a woman he knew well and loved dearly. Mrs. Gloria Davenport would be so proud of him. His irreplaceable gift to her, in front of two mayors and us, was that he was part of the latest and last generation to know and love her. That would always be his distinction that nobody else could claim. He would tell her story.

Mrs. Davenport was one of the last surviving members of the group of stalwart women who began and sustained the effort to renew and revive Beulah Cemetery, the last resting place of Vicksburg’s genesis black community. In truth, she was part of that genesis for nearly 100 years.

God bless her and rest her soul.

Yolande Robbins is a community correspondent for The Post. Email her at  yolanderobbins@fastmail.com