My name is Andy D. Smith, a good old American name, and why not, my family has lived in Southern Mississippi for over five generations.
I am named for a forebearer who led our family’s immigration to America. He was Anders deGroot Schmitt, of Dutch extraction, a Boer who lived in what is now South Africa. Liking America, he Anglicized our name.
When the British won the Boer Wars, we had no desire to live under their occupation, and especially under their religious beliefs, that of the Church of England. We were of the Dutch Reform faith, even a conservative branch of that conservative faith. It preached “the white man’s burden” if you will…that we had an obligation of charity towards them but not one of equality. Our theology and our preachers constantly reminded us the black man was not our equal. Since England had abolished slavery early in the 19th century we knew it was but a matter of time before our beliefs and English law would conflict.
We, my ancestors, set about finding a new land. They had read many of the tracts and speeches of your Southern preachers, of several denominations, who held as we did on this matter of so-called equality…even after your Civil War. Anders..Andy..led several families to Southern Mississippi around the turn of the 19th century and we settled in 3 small towns there. More families came later as we established farms, and then stores to sell our produce, and later general supplies and other items.
Our farms and stores are all ”closely held.” Only family members may hold stock in them, no stock may be sold or transfer to an outsider and all transactions must be approved by an extraordinary majority of family members. Those who marry into our families are required to sign documents agreeing to these terms.
We are small, a half dozen general stores, in a rural area of Mississippi, which may explain why your dept. of Justice didn’t discover us until a few years ago. They charged us with discrimination and violation of the Civil Rights act because all our store staffs are white. (Black customers are most welcome, but we do not employ them on our farms or in our stores..all work is done by family members and our children learn that “menial” chores led to better things in time.)
We have filed a brief under the so-called “Hobby Lobby” decision asking the DOJ charges be dismissed. It could hardly be clearer..we are closely held as a business, and our deeply held religious beliefs forbid hiring blacks or having anything but the merest social contact with them.
Your logic in “Hobby Lobby” is clear. You must allow us to continue as an all-white business.
I'm just sayin'...