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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hat's off to Max Brantley RE: Memories: The land of cotton


Posted by Max Brantley on Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 6:34 AM

Max Brantley

The New York Times writes further today about Haley Barbour's fond memories of the White Citizens Council, an organization well-remembered in Arkansas for Jim Johnson's membership and use of the specter of sexual race mixing as a potent political tool.
It interests me because Barbour is three years older than I am. It's true, as he has been quoted, that times weren't "that bad" for me, either. But I was white. Those "reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" signs still hanging in restaurants in my southern hometown then didn't apply to me. The invitation-only high school Christmas dance included my name on the guest list because I was white. None was sent to a black student.
Barbour has been quoted as saying the South was largely integrated by the time his generation came of age. Really?
Maybe Yazoo City in enlightened Mississippi was farther advanced. (Noted: Ole Miss' first black football player arrived in 1972, three years after Barbour would have graduated had he not dropped out; the Rebel flag and "Dixie" would persist for decades.) A handful of brave black kids received high school diplomas with my Louisiana class in 1968, but we were the only high school in the parish so progressive, thanks to a liberal city school superintendent. Lunchroom seating would have been segregated but for the faculty sponsors of the girls marching group — one of them a Junction City native and Henderson grad who taught Latin — who insisted that the leaders of the group sit with the new arrivals and make them feel welcome on their first day at the white school.
We even added a single black teacher — a librarian — though in the racially vague environs of southern Louisiana, you had to know his people to know he was black, so "white" did he appear. The high school would, of course, soon have a rapidly growing black enrollment as white folks moved to private schools and the new high school south of town.
That Haley Barbour sugarcoats those days tells you a little about him and a lot about what he perceives of attitudes in Mississippi and the country. It suggests: "What's all the bitching about? Segregation is over. We're all post-racial now. The 60s? It wasn't all THAT bad. Get over it." The Schwerners, Chaneys, Goodmans, Everses and Kings and many more might have different memories.

COMMENTS:

It took 150 years and a wholesale change of political parties, but the (old, white, fearful, ignorant, murderous) South is rising again.
Posted by Silverback66 on  Report this comment


Think most of us can agree that Haley Barbour epitomizes the old south ...

An afterthought --- does mush mouth Barbour and Huck the Buck share the same DNA???

Posted by ButWhoCares on  Report this comment


Maybe we could all just make up a story about how it was. The Texas Board of Education has had some success in doing so.
Posted by Sellercreek on  Report this comment


I was in Cleveland MS in the mid-1960 and it wasn't the Yazoo City-atmosphere that Barbour fondly remembers.

I was in the car behind a car on highway 61 that hit a young (6-7 yr?) black youngster running across the highway. He really tried to avoid hitting him but he went off the road in the same direction the child was running because of traffic coming the other way. The state police officier refused to transport him to the hospital in his white police car, they wouldn't let us because they didn't know the extent of the injuries, and the first ambulance that appeared from Cleveland also refused to transport and they had to wait for an ambulance from Mound Boyou ( black community), 40 miles north to come. I went back to my house, called a recruiter in St Louis and told him "to get me the hell out of here". We checked the hospital by phone and they said that he had only minor injuries because the car had slowed so much before contact.

We had friends who lived in Illinois who had 4 kids and vacationed at Bilouxi and because of their license plates, they were trailed from the TN border for over 100 miles until they police were satisfied that they were not intent on stirring up unrest.

One comment that adds some perspective but isn't an excuse. Poor whites in MS had very little going for them also but the one thing they did have was that they weren't black. It is/was a poor state-economically and morally.
Posted by couldn't be better on  Report this comment


Helluva a story cbb!

So glad you mentioned [Justice] Jim Johnson because it brought to mind his shotgun going off, pointed at the center of his heart.
Down deep he's a good man.
Posted by eLwood on  Report this comment


Seldom does yours truly read letters to the editor especially in the D-G but one "Tears unimpressive" caught my attention this morning... good read.
Posted by ButWhoCares on  Report this comment


I attended a short course in the aptly named Starkville. After 3 days of classes, they fed us catfish. We're all sitting around long tables with PHD professors who were casually saying n***** this and n***** that while we were all being served by African American students. I was watching this whole affair with my dropped jaw. The students didn't react at all. I guess they were used to it. This was about 1993! I figure not much has changed since then either.

I know that this type of conversation is common in many parts of Arkansas too, but professors at a public university?!?!?!
Posted by pollen on  Report this comment


Great piece, Max!
Posted by Claude Bahls on  Report this comment


Every time I look at that fat **** Barbour I am reminded of Jubilation T. Cornpone.
Posted by Claude Bahls on  Report this comment


Haley Barbour: Mouth full of shoe leather

Posted by Max Brantley on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is going to have to remember that every place isn't Mississippi when he runs for president. In a recent profile, he spoke proudly of his hometown, Yazoo City, for not putting up with the KKK. See, the fine fellows of the segregationist Citizens Council and their scrubbed-up bigotry ran things there. A spokesman for Barbour says it is unfair to tar Barbour for his praise of this ignoble band.

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