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Black gay Mississippi mayoral candidate found dead

This morning, the lifeless body of Marco McMillian was found on the Mississippi River levee. McMillian was Mississippi’s first openly gay candidate for mayor who happened to also be an African American.

Democrats, including President Obama, whom he had met, considered him to be one of the rising stars in the state’s party and political scene. But yesterday, he went missing, causing state police to search for him after an unnamed driver crashed his car on the highway yesterday. This morning they found his body dumped on a riverbank. The local sheriff’s department has reported that a “person of interest” had been taken into custody in connection to the death but had not yet been charged.

McMillian, 34, was confirmed dead by Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith. He was running to become mayor of Clarksdale. As it stands, his case is being investigated as a homicide. McMillian was trying to fill the seat vacated by Mayor Henry Espy Jr., the brother of Mike Espy, a former congressman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary. Although Henry Espy decided not to seek re-election after more than two decades in office, his son, state Rep. Chuck Espy, is also running. In the past, McMillian was CEO of MWM & Associates, described on its website as a consulting firm for nonprofit organizations. He had recently served as international executive director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

Clarksdale has a population of approximately 18,000 people and is a place of lore where legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil for skills with a guitar.

It is also where Actor Morgan Freeman famously co-owns the Ground Zero Blues Club with Howard Stovall, a Memphis, Tenn., entertainment executive, and Bill Luckett, who also is running for mayor.

In 2004, Ebony magazine recognized McMillian as one of the nation’s ’30 up-and-coming African Americans under age 30.