Hennes: Nothing local approaches the horrors of Jim Crow

Mary Turner was eight months pregnant when her husband was murdered. He was slain in retaliation for a crime he did not commit.

Mary was devastated and enraged. She made it known she planned to take legal action against her husband’s killers, so they murdered her as well.

Only, this wasn’t an ordinary murder, if there is such a thing. This was a public lynching of a Black woman in the Jim Crow South 103 years ago.

She was hung upside-down and lit on fire. Her unborn child was cut out of her abdomen.

The crying infant was stomped into the ground. Then Mary was used as target practice.

No one was arrested for Mary Turner’s murder. No one was charged for her husband’s lynching. No one ever held accountable, on this earth anyway, for the public abortion of their infant.

Why? Because the Turners were Black and this was the Jim Crow era.

Jim Crow refers to the time period between 1877 and the 1960s.

Jim Crow is known not just for the policies that made Black Americans second-class citizens. And this wasn’t just for the social etiquette norms designed to reinforce ideas of white superiority, but also for race-based terror and violence — specifically, terror inflicted on Black Americans by White Americans.

Mary Turner’s brutal murder was, unfathomably, not an isolated event. The Equal Justice Initiative has documented 4,384 racial terror lynchings of Black Americans during the Jim Crow decades in our history.

There is now another Mary we can associate with the words “Jim Crow.”

Mary Starrett is seven years into representing Yamhill County as a commissioner. And she is enraged that the Oregon Health Authority is allowing business and faith institutions to create separate sections for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Even though a person’s vaccination status is an individual choice, unlike the race of a Black person, Mary Starrett shared the governor’s May 24 news release and declared it “Jim Crow 2.0” on her Facebook page. Previously she has applied broader terms like “segregation” as well.

Mary Starrett is a white woman from New York, educated in Boston. She has demonized Martin Luther King Jr. (1/6/2004 on NewsWithViews.com) and believes Asians have more privilege than white people (August 2019 board of commissioners meeting).

She has now equated her situation to the racial terrorism of Black Americans by White Americans during the Jim Crow era. Why? Because she chooses not to get vaccinated, therefore might be asked to sit where people wear masks.

For myself, I support the right of any individual to decline a COVID-19 vaccine. I also agree with Commissioner Starrett that widespread policies requiring people to show proof of vaccination are problematic.

However, I fail to see how an appropriate parallel could be made between the Jim Crow that murdered one Mary and the proposed policies that require the other Mary to wear a mask. The contexts of these two Marys could not be more different.

Once again, Commissioner Starrett shows little regard for the perspectives of people of color or the harm she causes with her words. Let the reader understand, if the story of Mary Turner was new information and you found it upsetting to read, imagine how upsetting it is for Black Americans to see a white person like Mary Starrett claim she’s being subjected to an injustice akin to that of Mary Turner under Jim Crow.

Tiffany Henness is a contract writer, designer and marketer making her home in McMinnville with her family. Of mixed race heritage herself, she writes on adoption, race and religion on the website Calling in the Wilderness and serves on the city’s advisory committee on diversity, equity and inclusion.



I truly wish our county was MUCH more diverse, in that, it would be more likely that a person of color, or someone in our rather small Jewish community, would overhear a conversation in real time involving MS or LB about how similar wearing a mask is to "Jim Crow 2.0"(catchy in a very tone deaf way that only a privileged white person would publicly say) or the comparisons made by equating masks and vaccination questions to Nazi Germany, and challenge them personally, in real time, in a real situation, and in public, on their ridiculous position here. These two will NEVER be willing to hear why these are damaging comparisons to make, and why it continues to facilitate discrimination. One has to be open and empathetic. Starrett and Berschauer have YET to exude a smidge of empathy in any way, shape or form. That is the real shame here. Two leaders with no empathy to the community they serve. Only driven by their own small view of it. It's a pity if it wasn't so damaging to us all right now.


Thank you, Tiffany, for your eloquent historical rebuttal to Mary Starrett's clueness ignorance and racism. When BOC meetings finally go live, I encourage you to speak these truths to her face during public comments.


Spoken with far more eloquence than anything I could have said. Thank you Tiffany for your voice. My only addition would be to call for a recall, Mary Starrett is an embarrassment to the position she sits in and the citizens she represents.

A New Generation

Remember before the BS duo were seated, when refusing to allow diversity training at the County level, Mary’s answer was ‘just be nice to each other?’ Tell that to Derek Chauvin. Not sure any level of training could remove the cotton from between her ears. Each statement/meeting just keeps getting worse. Shameful and disgusting.


I encourage everyone to go read some of the columns Starrett wrote for "News with Views" before casting their vote in the next county commissioner election. Then ask yourself if someone who writes such vitriolic garbage is worthy of being part of our county's governance. I suspect most will decide she doesn't.


I think we are all waiting for Mary Starrett to "eat a little crow" on this issue.

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