Murder charges have been filed in the death of Marco McMillian, the 34-year-old openly gay fundraising executive who was considered a rising star in Mississippi poltics and running for mayor of Clarksdale. McMillian was described as "one of the 1st viable openly #LGBT candidates in Mississippi" by the Victory Fund, which helps elect openly LGBT candidates.
McMillian's body was discovered on the Mississippi River levee Wednesday morning. McMillian had been missing since his car was involved in an accident on Tuesday. The murder charges were filed against the man found in his car and involved in an accident, reports the Clarion-Ledger.
McMillian was considered missing after an accident involving his SUV happened around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday near the Coahoma County-Tallahatchie County line. Reed, who was driving McMillian’s SUV, had collided head-on with another vehicle. McMillian wasn’t in his SUV at the time of the accident, thus prompting a search for his whereabouts.
The 22-year-old Reed also lives in Clarksdale, according to CNN. Police have yet to announce a motive or specify the murder charges.
CNN spoke with the candidate's mother, Patricia McMillian, who wanted to dispel some speculation that her son's death has anything to do with his sexual orientation."He did not announce in public that he was gay," she told CNN. "I don't think he was attacked because he was gay."
She said that she did not know the man who was found in her son's vehicle. "We didn't even know him. We never heard of him," said Amos Unger, McMillian's stepfather. The man and McMillian were not friends on Facebook, the parents said. They said they are sure that their son didn't know him.
McMillian apparently had a distinguished career as a fundraising executive, according to the biography at Marco McMillian for Mayor. McMillan most recently served as International Executive Director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Previously he was a development executive at Alabama A&M and Jacskon State, raising helping to raise "$38 million... and more than $16 million" respectively, the bio reports. "McMillian was named in Mississippi Business Journal’s 'Top 40 Under 40' and was recognized by EBONY in 2004 as one of the nation’s leaders who are 30 and under."
Until last year, there were no openly LGBT politicians in Mississippi. If elected, McMillian would have been one of only several Black openly gay men to lead a town or city. McMillian's sexuality "never came up during the [mayoral] campaign," a staffer told the Clarion-Ledger.
"The loss of Marco is a huge one," said Dr. Ravi K Perry in a statement released by the National Black Justice Coalition. Perry is assistant professor of political science at Mississippi State University, and was a friend of Marco McMillian and and adviser to his political campaign. JET featured the wedding of Dr. Ravi Perry and Paris Prince in its December 10 2012 issue.
"He was the most viable LGBT candidate for public office in the history of politics in the state of Mississippi," said Perry. "We need more 'Marcos' to boldly stand up for what they believe and to serve the greater good. His untimely death is tragic and also a reminder that we need to better engage and equip openly gay candidates of color running for office."