Capitols, domes, eagles and more

MS State Capitol Southwest view PHOTO BY

By Christopher Young,

Contributing Writer,

Idaho State Capitol PHOTO BY BLsMG
Mississippi State Capitol PHOTO BY EDWARD CRIM
New Hampshire State Capitol PHOTO BY BEN MCLEOD

Living just half a mile from the Mississippi State Capitol building, it’s a rare day when I’m not driving past it. It’s a beautiful building in the context of a Capitol building – which typically are intended to be distinctive, perhaps the most identifiable building in any state, and a building of prominence where the will of “We the People” is carried out. Just like with the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, a state Capitol is also a source of pride for the people.  

Whether it has been living in close proximity, driving past so often, visiting from time to time, or being dismayed by some of the things that take place under our Capitol dome, it’s always front of mind.

Curiosity took hold about other State Capitol buildings, and so the research began. Popping out right off the bat was discovering that only four of our fifty State Capitol buildings are adorned with an eagle at the top – Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire and West Virginia. They are pictured here, in order, left to right. No disrespect to the other eagle-topped Capitol buildings, but our copper eagle gilded with gold leaf is eight feet tall with a fifteen-foot wingspan, far and away the most expansive among this small group – #1 in my mind, not something we get to say often in Mississippi. 

Of those four eagles, according to, Idaho’s eagle faces southwest towards Oregon and Nevada. New Hampshire’s eagle faces east-northeast. West Virginia’s eagle faces south-southwest towards Kentucky. Mississippi’s eagle faces due south – no doubt about it – therefore it’s tailfeathers point to the north – imagine that.

So majestic in it’s Beaux-Arts classicalism architecture, our Capitol building is 171,000 square feet with the central dome rising 180 feet above ground level, and then our south-facing eagle. Sometimes my thoughts wander to all that eagle must see beneath it. The eagle knows what really goes on in our Capitol – sadly, much more than the people of Mississippi do. 

Our Capitol building looks really good on the outside, but what goes on inside? Let’s take a look at some of the things that eagle sees:

MS State Capitol South view PHOTO BY

Have we heard one word from the top trio of leadership or other white legislators condemning the discrimination of black farm workers in the Delta, that were displaced by massive white-owned farming operations, in favor of white workers from South Africa? Not one word.

While claiming a Culture of Life, the Speaker of the House refuses annually to allow a vote on expanding Medicaid for poor mothers and they die as a result, just because they are poor and mostly black. The Federal government not only pays most of the tab, but they remind us that poor people and black people are not invisible to them.

The eagle sees all, including the pilfering of welfare funds in the poorest state in the nation. How much was schemed and executed right under that eagle’s gaze? Officials elected and appointed – trusted by the people to serve the people, turning Federal dollars to help the poor into their own self-serving slush fund right here in The Hospitality State.

Banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory. A truer telling of our history is unsufferable for our majority conservative white Christian legislators. Do they think we don’t know? Of course not. They know that we know, but they don’t care because they possess the power to do as they please. When they do things like this, they are practicing a different religion, a non-Christian religion – the religion of white supremacy.

It’s often said that out Lt. Governor, Delbert Hosemann, is the smartest person in the room over there. He possesses quite a pedigree. Family man, veteran, undergrad in business at Notre Dame, law degree from University of Mississippi, Master of Laws in Taxation from New York University, former partner at Phelps Dunbar, LLP, twelve years as our Secretary of State, and now Lt. Governor and President of the Senate. Absent politics, I wonder what he would say about why our state always lags behind – a bottom-dweller. I wonder if he would concede that we don’t treat all of our people equally. I wonder if he would mention the words racism and oppression. I wonder if he would mention backward thinking being the driver of backwardness. 

We are left to wonder. We may never know. But clear-eyed folks who believe in the Christian values of fairness, equality and loving they neighbor – they see.

And that tortured eagle – our national symbol of strength, freedom, and liberty – that eagle sees it all.

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