Yes, The Yazoo City Citizens Council Was Racist Too
Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit did some mental contortions to defend Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour:
He also copped to having spent most of his time at MLK’s speech checking out girls. One thing he’s being hammered for is the “I just don’t remember it as being that bad” line, but as I read it, that wasn’t his take on the injustice of discrimination but rather how Yazoo City specifically coped with racial tensions. No violence in school desegregation, no Klan welcome in town, and a mixed audience for King’s address: Relative to other southern hot spots, I take him as saying, the town made racial progress peacefully. The other thing he’s getting hit for is whitewashing the Citizens Councils, a.k.a. the White Citizens Councils, which were essentially pro-segregationist groups for people too “respectable” for the Klan. Again, the way I read his quote was that he was describing only the Yazoo City chapter, not the overall organization (a point stressed by Barbour’s spokesman to TPM). Maybe the local CC’s mission had become less toxic by the time Barbour was a teen, or maybe he was simply naive about what the group’s true purpose was, remembering his hometown through “rose-colored glasses,” as Geraghty says. No doubt reporters are dialing up local historians as we speak to find out whether Barbour could earnestly and honestly be mistaken.
Bullfax, a website for “Market News & Analysis” and therefore obviously biased towards progressives, posted an excerpt from the book The Citizens’ Council: Organized Resistance to the Second Reconstruction that documented specific counter-NAACP activities in Yazoo City during the 1950s:
Excerpt from the book Citizens’ Council: Organized Resistance to the Second Reconstruction
As a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Edward H. Sebesta has scanned and provided decades worth of the Citizens Council newspapers. To be generous to Governor Barbour, who was born in 1947 and a teenager when he claims to have attended a Martin Luther King speech, I thought I would find publications from mid-1961, the latest the website has. The Citizens Council’s newspaper for July-August 1961 was filled with lovely headlines such as “Race Equality Is A ‘Scientific Hoax’” and
“The Incredible Tale Of The Darkies In Court,” along with order forms for fantastic books like Segregation - An American Custom, The South’s Just Cause, The Ugly Truth About The NAACP (the title of which corroborates the claims of the above book excerpt) and confederate cuff-links.