Former RNC Chair, and current Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour’s fond memories of White Citizen’s Councils …
And the reality.
How Things Change... The Old...
And New. Former Republican Senator George Allen and Council of Conservative Citizens
Although the term “historical revisionist” seems to have been co-opted these days by committed right-wingers who typically reserve it for liberals who refuse to adhere to the true and sacred American narrative according to Limbaugh and Beck, apparently Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour didn’t get the memo. In a recent interview with The Weekly Standard, Barbour, who is a favorite of the ultraconservative, race-baiting Council of Conservative Citizens, offered a startling new interpretation of this group’s massive resistance-era antecedent, the arch-segregationist White Citizens’ Council, whose title was subsequently deracinated to become the Citizens’ Councils of America. When asked how his hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi came to integrate its public schools relatively peacefully in 1970, Barbour responded:
“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”
Mississippi Governor and Former RNC CHair Haley Barobor at Council of Conservative Citizens BBQ
The White Citizens’ Council was formed in July 1954 in Indianola, a little north of Yazoo City in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, by a World War II veteran and plantation manager, Robert B. “Tut” Patterson, and some local businessmen and politicos. The council organizers had been inspired by a speech by Judge Tom Brady, also a Mississippian, who called on Southern whites to mount an organized resistance campaign against the Supreme Court’s integration decree. The Council spread across, and ultimately out of, Mississippi, generally attracting the white economic and political elites of the Deep South’s Black Belt counties but later making some inroads among blue-collar whites in the cities as well.
Pledged to maintain white supremacy, the councils foreswore violence but did their best to intimidate blacks who might think about challenging the status quo and to make painful examples of those who did. Perched atop the local economic pyramid, the councils’ white elites could seriously reduce, if not cut off entirely, the flow of commerce and credit, not to mention employment, to blacks who got out of line. Council leaders typically made it a point to see that the names of any black persons who had attempted to register to vote or signed petitions for school desegregation made their way to the local newspapers so that whites in the community would know which blacks to fire, turn off their tenant farms, or deny credit. An Alabama council member summed up his group’s aims quite candidly when he explained, “We intend to make it difficult, if not impossible, for a Negro who advocates desegregation to find and hold a job, get credit, or renew a mortgage.” Read the rest of this entry »