Interview with Erle Johnston
QUESTION 44
INTERVIEWER:

OK, AND CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF THE INFLUENCE THAT THE CITIZENS' COUNCIL HAD AS AN ORGANIZATION IN THE EARLY ‘60S. THEY MAY NOT HAVE URGED PARTICULARLY VOTE—VOTING FOR THIS OR THAT CANDIDATE BUT THEY HAD TREMENDOUS INFLUENCE IN DAY TO DAY LIFE. CAN YOU THINK OF AN EXAMPLE?

Erle Johnston:

The Citizens' Council had tremendous influence in those days, not only because of the money they were able to get from the Sovereignty Commission which I've always, always referred to, but because of the fact that they became involved in the election of an editor at the University of Mississippi, the paper called the Mississippian, and they were influential in getting one person defeated because they had found out that this one person had, had been in Atlanta and and had been in some marches there. However, later it turned out he was trying to cover the situation for a newspaper and was not a participant, but fair game. That was part of the hysteria. If you were there you were part of it. The Citizens' Council also were very influential in legislation when Governor Barnett became Governor in let's see, 1960, there were several bills that were adopted, that were submitted by Governor Barnett that were written in part or put it all together by Citizens' Council. They were bills that were designed at that time to preserve segregation.