Interview with Erle Johnston
QUESTION 28
INTERVIEWER:

BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IN THE, IN LATE '63, EARLY '64, HOW DID THE SOVEREIGNTY, WHAT WAS THE SOVEREIGNTY COMMISSION DOING IN PREPARATION FOR WHAT THEY WERE…

Erle Johnston:

Well, during 1964, head of the COFO invasion, the Sovereignty Commission really had no, really had no responsibility at all except information and we did get information in advance about what their plans were and of course we relayed them to local law enforcement officials, we knew where they were going to be at a certain time. We relayed information to Senator Stennis and Senator Eastland about subversives who were in the group and we identified a lot of subversives who were in the Civil Rights Movement. You say, well, how do you know they were subversives, well we, we had the list of the Senate Internal Security Committee and the House Un-American Activities Committee, and we also subscribed through another name to the communist newspapers and journals like the Daily Worker and others like that so whenever we had a name along by somebody else in Mississippi who could be identified as one of those, we would alert a lot of times the black leadership too because you know communists really were not accepted by blacks, because communist to them meant atheism. And the blacks you know, are the most religious race in the world, I expect. So whenever we could maybe reduce somebody's prestige or authority by showing them that he or she was on that communist list, it sometimes helped slow it down.