By Alan Bean
Trent Lott got into big trouble in 1998 when it leaked out that he had addressed a CCC fundraiser in Blackhawk Mississippi several years earlier.
Doug Evans, the man who has taken Curtis Flowers to trial six times on the same evidence, was a regular on the CCC circuit in the early 1990s.
State Senator Lydia Chassaniol (who is based in Mr. Flowers’ home town of Winona) is a proud member of the CCC and spoke to the organization’s annual conference in Jackson, MS in the summer of 2009.
The Council of Conservative Citizens rose from the ashes of the old Citizens Councils which sprang to life in 1954 to oppose the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. Alexander vs. Holmes County, the case that finally ended segregated public schooling in the South in 1969, was filed in the heart of Mississippi’s segregation academy belt. If a county’s black population exceeds 20% in Mississippi you will find segregation academies.
In theory, these schools can no longer discriminate on the basis of race. The Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) provides accreditation and they will not cooperate with schools denying enrollment to non-white students. But as this article on the Hatewatch blog reveals, the student bodies of the schools assisted by CCC fundraisers are almost completely white.
The Winona Christian School (sorry Jesus, they chose the name) has no non-white students, the nearby Carroll Academy has one non-white student, and the Calhoun Academy has four non-white students some of whom, the principal announces proudly “may have black blood in their families.”
In other words, so far as we know, not one of these schools enrolls an African American student.
It appears that MAIS is down with that, as are some mainstream companies that provide deep discounts to MAIS schools: Wilson Sports, Russell Athletic, Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company and Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance. You can voice your opposition to Wilson Sports’ association with unapologetically racist institutions at Change.org.
My main concern isn’t with the racists. They have a constitutionally protected right to be as nasty as they wanna be–and they make the most of it. My beef is with mainstream groups like the Jackson Clarion-Ledger who do a great job of covering hate crimes fifty years ago but turn a blind eye to overt racism in their own backyard.
There appears to be a gentleman’s agreement in Mississippi that the sleeping dogs of racism must never be kicked off the porch. This is understandable. White, civil rights resentment is too mainstream in the South to be acknowledged or opposed.
Perhaps it is assumed that if the bigots are ignored they will disappear with time. So long as the racists speak in code language they are on safe ground. We prefer to think that because CCC spokespeople eschew the n-word they no longer qualify as white supremacists. It is true, of course, that groups like the CCC lack the social prominence of the old white Citizens’ Councils. But an organization with close ties to folks like Trent Lott, former Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice, State Senator Lydia Chassaniol and the family of current Mississippi governor Haley Barbour is too prominent to be safely ignored.