Posted on December 21, 2010

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour Criticized for Downplaying ’60s Racial Tensions

Christopher Weber, Politics Daily, December 20, 2010

Gov. Haley Barbour took heat Monday for comments that appeared to minimize the racial tensions of the civil rights movement and praise segregationist organizations in 1960s Mississippi.

Barbour, whose name has been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for president in two years, was interviewed for a lengthy profile in the the Weekly Standard.

“I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” Barbour said of race relations during the early 1960s in his hometown of Yazoo City, Miss.

The two-term governor credited the relatively peaceful integration of schools in Yazoo City to Citizens Councils, all-white segregationist groups that formed in Mississippi in the mid-1950s. {snip}

“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,” Barbour told the magazine. “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.”


The governor said during King’s speech, “We were sort of out there on the periphery. We just sat on our cars, watching the girls, talking, doing what boys do. We paid more attention to the girls than to King.”

The remarks garnered criticism from liberal bloggers, the NAACP and Democratic officials.