Interview with Erle Johnston
QUESTION 52
INTERVIEWER:

OK, THAT'S GOOD, AND WHAT ABOUT THE DID YOU REALLY FEEL THAT THAT BLACKS AT THAT TIME ALREADY HAD THE VOTING RIGHTS THAT THEY DESERVED? SAY IN 1963, '64, THAT THERE WAS NO NEED FOR THEM TO PROTEST OR TO JOIN MARCHES OR WHAT, WHAT WAS YOUR POSITION ON STORM[?] …

Erle Johnston:

Well, when you ask my position-–and I can't tell you any more about my position than I could about the, the general feeling that existed about that time—-but back in those days, Mississippi had a poll tax. It was a $2 per head tax. And you could not vote in a Democratic primary unless you had paid the two dollar poll tax. Well, of course in a lot of counties there were blacks who paid the poll tax and voted but they were just tokens, they were just token. we've had some blacks here in Forrest that have been voting ever since I've been here. That goes back to, way back in 1941, see. But they were just a token few, and a lot of times, they were refused when they offered to pay the poll tax. Well, that was now that didn't apply to general elections, that was just to the primary because the the general election, of course, they didn't require the poll tax. But, the general elections really were, were kind of moot anyway because the primaries always determined who was going to be elected to office. So, of course there was a very few, a very very few of the blacks that voted then. Otherwise the Eastlands and the Barnetts and all of them could not have been elected as they were on platforms that were very segregationist.