Haley Barbour Backtracks on Support for Segregationists

Mississippi Governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Haley Barbour got himself in hot water recently when he came out in favor of the Citizens' Council, a pro-segregation group, and said that racism in the South before the civil rights movement "wasn't that bad."

Now, Barbour has backtracked on that sentiment, saying in a statement (H/T Talking Points Memo):

When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns' integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn't tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.

Today the Citizen's Council is "indefensible," but in a recent Weekly Standardprofile, Barbour called the group's members "town leaders":

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. 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 backtracking might not do enough, as Barbour's presidential hopes are widely considered to be over.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at December 21, 2010, 7:12am

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