Local leaders react to Peace Prize

Published 12:26 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009

With the recent announcement that president Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize, there has been a mixed bag of reactions, from that of pride all the way to surprise.

Local past and present elected officials along with the president of the local chapter of the NAACP had good things to say about the news.

Nobel Prizes are chosen by panels of people set forth by founder Alfred Nobel. In the case of the Nobel Peace Prize, that consists of a committee of five people elected by the Norwegian Parliament. Nominees for each prize are selected in part by members of academies, university professors, scientists from numerous countries and parliamentary assemblies, according to nobelprize.org.

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Former Picayune City Council member Leavern Guy said the announcement is an honor, not only for Obama, but for the entire country, and he is appalled by the negative reactions he has seen from people such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

“I don’t think anybody else would have got such a negative reaction if another person was president at this time,” Guy said.

While Guy says there have been other great leaders who were worthy of the prize, such as John F. Kennedy for his work with the Cuban Missile Crisis, he seems certain that the committee who chose Obama for the prize believed he was worthy. Both Guy and Pearl River County Board of Supervisors president Anthony Hales said Obama did not campaign or petition for the award.

Pearl River County NAACP president Jimmy Richardson sees Obama’s win as a great accomplishment, even though he has only been in office for a short time. However, in that short time Richardson said Obama has worked to bring people together and work for the good of the country as a whole. In light of the negative feedback, Richardson said he would tell Obama, “Don’t focus on the negative, continue to focus on the positive.”

Hales said he was surprised by the announcement, but realizes that Obama was not selected for what he has accomplished, but for what he wants to accomplish. Hales thinks it is Obama’s message of uniting world leaders through dialogue, rather than aggression, that earned him the award and sends a message to the world that those are the type of leaders the world wants.

Even though it seems there is a certain section of the American population that has not embraced this nation’s leader, Hales said it appears as though there is a segment of the world population that has, and this award is a reflection of that. He said America should be proud that their president was chosen.

Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. took a neutral stance, saying that he doesn’t get involved the national media hype and there does not seem to be much that the award will do for the people of Picayune. Pinero did say he was surprised to hear that Obama received the prize, since he has been in office for such a short time.

“His policies haven’t had a chance to succeed yet,” Pinero said. “I want him to succeed, but I think it’s premature for any policy maker after a couple of months.”