Tuesday, December 21, 2010


David Halberstam, "The White Citizens Councils," Commentary, October 1956 (via Atrios):

But the main and most effective weapon of the WCC has been economic pressure. For a militant organization which sees itself as law-abiding and which is fearful of using violence, this is an ideal solution, for it permits aggressive action without disturbing the peace.

"Look," said Nick Roberts of the Yazoo City Citizens Council, explaining why 51 of 53 Negroes who had signed an integration petition withdrew their names, "if a man works for you, and you believe in something, and that man is working against it and undermining it, why you don't want him working for you -- of course you don't."

In Yazoo City, in August 1955, the Council members fired signers of the integration petition, or prevailed upon other white employers to get them fired. But the WCC continues to deny that it uses economic force: all the Council did in Yazoo City was to provide information (a full-page ad in the local weekly listing the "offenders"); spontaneous public feeling did the rest.

Here's the ad, as reprinted in the September 13, 1955, issue of the Baltimore Afro-American:

As the Afro-American noted:

Yes, Haley Barbour was seven years old when this happened. But, y'know, you want to be president, maybe you have to learn about things that happened when you were too young to pay serious attention to them.

No comments: