Joseph Crespino: Barbour wrong on Citizens Council claims





WASHINGTON -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has set off a firestorm of controversy over his comments on the civil rights era in his hometown of Yazoo City, and now the president of the state's NAACP organization is calling his remarks "offensive" and akin to revisionist history.

"It is quite disturbing that the governor of this state would take an approach to try to change the history of this state," said Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP. "It's beyond disturbing -- it's offensive that he would try and create a new historical reality that undermines the physical, mental, and economic hardship that many African-Americans had to suffer as a result of the policies and practices of the White Citizens Council."

In his interview with The Weekly Standard, Barbour heaps praise on the pro-segregation Citizens Council, which he credits with integrating the Yazoo City public schools without any violence....

Joseph Crespino, an associate professor of history at Emory University, also noted a particular incident in Yazoo City undermining Barbour's claims. "One of the things the Citizens Council would do is carry out economic harassment -- sometimes physical intimidation -- against local blacks," he said. "There was this well-known incident in Yazoo City in the 1950s where a handful of black parents tried to file a lawsuit against a local public school. They lost their jobs because they filed a lawsuit and they participated in the local civil rights movement. So it's well-documented that the kind of harassment that blacks faced when they tried to desegregate the schools there in Yazoo City."...



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