Interview with Erle Johnston
QUESTION 34
INTERVIEWER:

OK, NOW, WHEN GOVERNOR, WELL, WHEN GOVERNOR ELECT JOHNSON WAS RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN 1963, WAS HE SUPPORTED BY THE CITIZENS' COUNCIL, AND IF SO, WHY?

Erle Johnston:

Yes, he was supported, Governor Johnson when he ran in 1963 was supported wholeheartedly by the Citizens' Council because his, well, in ‘63, his opponent was—in the second primary—was J.P. Coleman. Now J.P. Coleman was the Governor now who signed the first bill creating the Sovereignty Commission, but over the years, Governor Coleman had been given the brand of being a moderate, a—very much of a moderate. In fact, he had gotten kind of close to the Kennedys and I remember that when one of the candidates ran for Governor that summer he said something about the hotline between Washington and Ackerman, and Ackerman was the home of Governor Coleman, and that was a kind of a slug that he was too footsy with the Kennedys. So, anyway Governor Johnson at that time, of course, he was just Paul B. Johnson, but anyway he, he did—he was Lieutenant Governor, excuse me—he did capitalize on the entry of Meredith into Old Miss because he was on campus. And he one time blocked Meredith and the marshals when Governor Barnett couldn't get there. And so his publicity department dreamed up this cartoon of Paul B. Johnson with his fist drawn back as if he was going to take a swipe at James Meredith and the marshal who was with him and it was a widely publicized cartoon and it went along with the theme of the campaign which was "Stand Tall with Paul." And the story says he stood up for you, you stand up for him on election day.