ACLU tells GOP senator to 'brush up' on history after remark about attending public hanging
© Greg Nash

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) slammed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith on Tuesday for her comments in a video captured earlier this month that she would be in the "front row" if invited to a "public hanging."

“Sen. Hyde-Smith should be ashamed of herself. The fact that she chooses to use such repugnant language despite the ugly history in her state speaks to her lack of concern and knowledge about the experience of people who don’t look like her," the organization's leadership said in a statement.

The ACLU urged the senator to "brush up on her history" given the number of lynchings and other civil rights injustices that occurred in Mississippi in the past.

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“To celebrate the chance to sit in the front row of a public hanging demonstrates a profound ignorance of the state’s institutional legacy of racism," the organization said.

Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to replace retired Sen. Thad Cochran (R) earlier this year, drew prompt criticism for her comments, which surfaced over the weekend after she advanced to a runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy, who is black.

She claimed in a statement that she was referring to "accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement."

"In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous," she added.

Espy, who would be the first black U.S. senator from Mississippi since 1883, called his opponent's comments "reprehensible."