I don't think this was exactly what Eric Holder meant when he suggested that a conversation about race needed to happen more often. See The Cowardly Nation.
According to the Madison County Record, Visiting utility workers harassed:
A group of out-of-state electric company workers helping restore power to Madison County residents were subjected to racial epithets and other forms of harassment while in the area on Saturday.An editorial in The Arkansas Leader also chides the rugged mountain county, Icy reception for repairmen:* * * *
According to Madison County Sheriff Phillip Morgan, the Pennsylvania crew, which had split into about three groups, had between 30 or 40 African-American workers included in the 100.
"Some kids were driving around them, waving Rebel flags and mouthing to them," Morgan said. "They showed some weapons and were supposedly intoxicated.
"That's just not right for those people to treat them that way. Those people came down here from Pennsylvania to help us get electricity back on, leaving their families behind, and this is how they are treated. That's just wrong."
Some 100 workers from Pennsylvania, about a third of them African Americans, came down to help the local electric cooperative restore power after the devastating ice storm last month took down just about every power pole in the county. They worked tirelessly clearing trees and putting up poles and lines in the ice and freezing rain to try to speed power to people.These people will remain in the dark even when the lights are turned back on.
For their trouble, they were harassed and threatened by roving groups of young men shouting racial epithets and pointing guns at them. The county sheriff said the young men would drive around the work teams waving Rebel flags and cursing the blacks. The workers were frightened enough to contact the sheriff’s office in nearby Washington County.
Madison County is all white.
The last time Madison County made national news was the day after the general election in which Sen. Barack Obama was elected president by a landslide. The owners of the Faubus Motel at Huntsville, named after the Arkansas governor who sent the National Guard to Little Rock Central High School to block nine black children from attending classes in 1957, took down the American flag the morning after the election and put up a Confederate flag. The proprietor said the voters of the United States had abandoned the principles of the nation’s founders in electing Obama.