Mississippi’s overly talkative Governor can say the damnedest things, and some of them make my hair stand up!
by Charlie Leck
Well, lately the verbose Governor of the State of Mississippi has been saying some pretty strange and, I think stupid things for the record. For instance, when he was asked about closing in on adulthood as a Mississippi lad during the days of the civil rights movement, he said: “I just don’t remember it as being that bad.”
Barbour was 16 when the three civil rights workers were kidnapped and murdered in June of 1964. I’ve written about the incident here a number of times (Remembering the Sixties). I arrived in Mississippi on the day they were killed.
I was 23. Perhaps that’s why I have a clearer memory of what Mississippi was like. Believe me, it was plenty bad! Part of what I and the fellows I traveled with were supposed to do was to meet with members of community citizens councils (white citizens councils). Barbour speaks positively about these councils. In fact there wasn’t much positive or good about them.
“You heard of the Citizens Councils,” Barbour said to writer Andrew Ferguson, “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.”
Let me tell you, that is revisionist history!
In 1996, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette described the White Citizens Councils this way:
“The Delta was home to the Citizens Councils, a name familiar to Southerners who lived through the turbulent 1950s and '60s. The first Citizens Council was organized by ardent segregationists at Indianola during the summer of 1954. By the next year, there were 60,000 members in Mississippi. The councils claimed to oppose violence, but their goal was to prevent black inroads during those nascent days of the civil rights movement and to protect what members characterized as the "Southern way of life." In Mississippi, the state's most powerful farmers, bankers and businessmen were members.
“It was a coterie that could apply frightful pressure on dissenters, whether white or black, in the enclosed, isolated Mississippi society," [Neil] Peirce wrote in 1974. "... By their very presence and rhetoric, the councils created a climate in which racial murder could be tolerated still longer in Mississippi.
“The councils enjoyed the support of Democratic Sen. James Eastland and, to a lesser extent, Democratic Sen. John Stennis. The councils also had friends in the governor's mansion. Democrat Ross Barnett won the governor's race in 1959 using a campaign song that said in part: "He's for segregation 100 percent. He's not a moderate like some other gent.”
Now get this: Haley Barbour wants to run for the White House as the next Republican candidate! Oh, my!
Get a jump on that campaign by reading this remarkable story by Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard (The Boy from Yazoo City). I really recommend it to you. You'll get a clear picture of Haley Barbour.
You’ll shake your head and, perhaps, utter with me, “Oh, my!”
I can't thank enough my Mississippi and Arkansas friends and readers who keep me informed about things like this and told me about Ferguson's story -- special thanks to good, old John Gibson, a guy who'll never give up!
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