Interview with Hodding Carter III
QUESTION 2
INTERVIEWER:

NOW HOW DID THOSE RELATIONSHIPS CHANGE FROM SAY ‘54 WITH THE BROWN DECISION ON THROUGH THE FIFTIES ON INTO THE EARLY SIXTIES?

Hodding Carter III:

There was a general assumption at the beginning by a good part of the white leadership that in fact black Mississippians, black Southerners didn't really want the changes. That these were things that were being engineered and forced on the South by left wing agitators, outside forces, communist, Jewish intellectuals, whatever. There was a great sense of shock and some dismay in certain of those quarters when it turned out that blacks in fact thought that the 1954 decision ought to be implemented, that there ought to be changes, that the system didn't work. That it stunk. Initially in any case, there were enough whites who were disturbed by the decision that, not to take any chances, they organized in the Citizens' Councils first in Mississippi and elsewhere almost immediately after the decision to make sure that whatever blacks thought the system wouldn't change. What blacks thought however in Mississippi, in the 1950s was almost totally irrelevant, because there was no outside power to which they could sort of turn for assistance, and there had not yet boiled up that absolute determination to seize the moment for themselves that you suddenly saw coming out of the kids starting in the early 1960S. In the fifties it was all one way. It was the white Southern legislatures, the Mississippi political apparatus, mobilizing legally to make sure nothing changed in reaction to the two Supreme Court decisions of ‘54 and ‘55.