Maddow Fact Checks Barbour's Version of History | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Maddow Fact Checks Barbour's Version of History

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Rachel Maddow, host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" reported last night that Gov. Haley Barbour exaggerated his claims of attending integrated schools in Mississippi.

"The people that led the change of parties in the South, just as I mentioned earlier, was my generation," Barbour said Wednesday during an interview with the conservative media organization, Human Events. "My generation, who went to integrated schools. I went to an integrated college. Never thought twice about it. It was the old Democrats who had fought for segregation so hard. By my time, people realized that was the past. It was indefensible, wasn't going to be that way anymore."

Maddow reported that Barbour, 62, graduated from Yazoo City High School. Unable to get his exact graduation date from Barbour's press office, she estimates that he graduated in 1964 or 1965. Mississippi schools, however, weren't integrated until 1970.

"Anybody who graduated from high school before 1970 in Mississippi did not go to an integrated school. Giving Haley the benefit of the doubt, he probably feels like he is of that generation, but he's not," Jackson resident JoAnne Prichard Morris, a former Yazoo City teacher who knew Barbour, said on the show. (Prichard Morris is also a consulting editor of the Jackson Free Press.)

Maddow also estimates that only two black students attended The University of Mississippi at the time Barbour entered the school. At the start of his senior year, 39 black students attended the school.

"The larger point here, whatever fantasy Haley Barbour is spinning about his own race and life in Mississippi, the overall point he is trying to make is that the modern Republican party is as dominant as it is in the South, because it is so against segregation," Maddow said.

Maddow also reported that Barbour's two sons attended Manchester Academy, a Yazoo City private school that admitted its first black student in 1996, "a year before one of Barbour's sons looks to have graduated."

Previous Comments

ID
159638
Comment

Interesting piece. Some would argue that the majority of MS schools are still segregated. Barbour probably saw the lack of people of color in his high school as a sign that they probably just couldn't cut it there or didn’t want to be there, completely ignoring the Jim Crow laws that were characterizing the time. I hope Barbour wasn't trying to say that racism is a thing of the past in MS. If that was his point, then he is more out of touch than I thought he was. He probably is hitting at the familiar conservative refrain that racism is only apparent in individual attitudes, and there is no systemic basis for racism. This presupposes that racial inequality is merely the result of a disproportionate number of racial minorities who don't possess the discipline, intellect, or skills to become successful in this society. This view ignores a great deal of history, economics, and politics that characterize people’s lives. Either way, Barbour once again comes off as aloof or willfully ignorant when it comes to the social climate of many of the people in MS.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2010-09-03T10:53:19-06:00
ID
159640
Comment

I can't speak for all Mississippi schools, but the first token integration of schools in Canton, not far from Yazoo City, took place in 1965. I believe January 1970 was when school districts were ordered to have their desegregation completed.

Author
redclay
Date
2010-09-03T12:56:20-06:00
ID
159645
Comment

Salon did an excellent piece correcting Barbour's revisionist history of the GOP's rise in the South (and his role in it), titled The GOP's new fake racial history. Salon's premise is that Barbour is purposely trying to rewrite history, Blackwatch, not that he's ignorant. Here's a snippet: Barbour's account of his own civil rights-era political coming of age, which he relates in a different part of the Human Events interview, tells the story of the South's partisan transformation very well. His father and grandfather, he notes, were both Democrats -- "Eastland Democrats," to be precise. That would be James Eastland, an ardent segregationist senator who represented Mississippi from 1943 to 1978. Dubbed "the voice of the white South," Eastland declared that Brown v. Board of Education "destroyed" the Constitution and that segregation was the "correct, self-evident truth" and "the law of nature." When three civil rights workers in Mississippi disappeared in the Freedom Summer of '64 (they were murdered, it turned out), Eastland privately told LBJ that no one had really disappeared -- that it was all "a publicity stunt." and this ... In Barbour's revisionist history, old segregationist Democrats from the South stood in the way of integration in the '50s and '60s, but then a new, enlightened generation of post-racial conservatives came of age and transformed the region into a Republican bastion for ... some other reason. In reality, the Republicans' domination of the South today is a direct result of the party's rejection of civil rights in '64 (and Nixon's Southern Strategy, which called for coded appeals and behind-the-scenes assistance to Southern bigots). The partisan disparities in Southern elections speak to an enduring racial divide: While Barack Obama won nearly 45 percent of the white vote nationally in 2008, he got just 11 percent in Mississippi and 10 percent in Alabama. No southern Republican of Barbour's generation wants to admit that they were part of the problem then, or that they continue to be part of the problem today. It tends to be a fairly inconvenient thing to deal with on a national stage. Worth a read, especially for those who may not understand what really happened in the South a couple generations ago.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-09-03T14:10:10-06:00
ID
159646
Comment

I graduated from a Mississippi High School in 1963...total segregation. My brother graduated in 1967, and had attended an integrated public school throughout his sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Author
pepperhead
Date
2010-09-03T14:30:35-06:00
ID
159650
Comment

Some would argue that the majority of MS schools are still segregated. Especially after the situation in Nettleton last week, where students of a certain race could be in certain positions of government.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-09-03T16:39:44-06:00
ID
159658
Comment

Which high school, pepperhead? And of course, that was not true in Mr. Barbour's town and high school.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-07T08:58:21-06:00
ID
159660
Comment

Another journalist chimes in on the revisionist Barbour:

Author
FrankMickens
Date
2010-09-07T10:55:08-06:00
ID
159661
Comment

I just need clarification. His quote says "intergrated college" but we are talking about his highschool, what are we fact checking and what is incorrect about?

Author
amoderatemississippian
Date
2010-09-07T14:55:37-06:00
ID
159662
Comment

Both really, moderate. He said his generation went to integrated schools in Mississippi, which is just patently false. And he said that he attended an integrated college, which is also false, unless you define "integrated" in a very cynical way. And let's not forget that he just threw all the history about the "southern strategy" and dixiecrats switching into southern Republicans (leaving Lincoln spinning in his grave, likely) out the window. In many ways, that was the most disturbing part. Of course, trying to say schools were integrated here then is just treating us all like idiots.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-07T15:11:34-06:00
ID
159663
Comment

Donna- Wouldn't Haley be considered part of the Baby Boomer generation? People born between 46 and 65? If he graduated in 1965 at the age 17, he would have been born in 1948 and someone born in 1965 would have have started school in 1971 at age 6 after schools were force to integrate in 1970? So wouldn't his generation, Baby Boomers, have been the first to go to intergrated school in Mississippi?

Author
BubbaT
Date
2010-09-07T21:32:29-06:00
ID
159666
Comment

Bubba, I'm not sure I'm following your numbers/math, but let's simplify. I'm that generation sandwiched between boomers and Gen X (now called the Jones Generatio), and schools integrated when *I* was in the third grade. Barbour and his generation did not go to integrated schools, although some later went to integrated colleges (not really him, though; Ole Miss in the 1960s really can't count). And it is laughable to even imply that his generation of southerners brought integration to Mississippi. Simply laughable. It was forced by the U.S. Supreme Court, and his generation fought it mightily. And the party he later headed is the New Dixiecrat party, at least in the South, because Dixiecrats became the new Republican Party and brought us the southern strategy (which a former Republican had apologized to the NAACP for doing, so you can't even say people are making it up). Barbour's whole little interview about race there was fabrication and an attempt to remark history into something that makes him look better. (I assume you know that he and his mentor Lee Atwater helped build and implement the southern strategy, right?).

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-08T09:03:49-06:00
ID
159669
Comment

Clearly, I should have stopped reading after I saw the words "Rachel Maddow" and "fact check" in the same sentence. I graduated from high school in Batesville in 1971, and we'd been integrated for at least six, if not seven years.

Author
Mattisch
Date
2010-09-08T13:43:17-06:00
ID
159672
Comment

If your recollection is correct, Mattisch, Batesville was truly exceptional. It was hardly the rule in Mississippi, as this link documents: http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/cd/desegregation.htm.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-09-08T16:51:31-06:00
ID
159675
Comment

If I remember correctly Shaw school district was intergrated in 1968.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2010-09-09T08:30:02-06:00
ID
159676
Comment

Maybe this Mississippi Historical Society piece will help fill in some knowledge gaps about how de-segregation worked in Mississippi. Some excerpts: Mississippi public schools underwent a dramatic change in 1970. After sixteen years of delays and token desegregation after U.S. Supreme Court orders to dismantle the state’s dual school system, a steady stream of legal action by black parents and federal intervention toppled the state’s ninety-five-year-old “separate but equal” educational system in which white school children went to one school system and black school children went to another one. During and after the change to a unitary school system that would allow white and black children to attend the same schools, state and federal officials declared the process an unqualified success. Mississippi’s state superintendent of education said in triumph in the summer of 1970 that the state now had the most desegregated schools in the nation. By the fall of 1970, all school districts had been desegregated, compared to as late as 1967 when one-third of Mississippi’s districts had achieved no school desegregation and less than three percent of the state’s black children attended classes with white children. And this transformation was generally accomplished across the South without the violence associated with the earlier desegregation and voting rights battles of the 1960s. Yet massive white resistance in Mississippi to the United States Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954 continued to thrive in 1970 and decisively undermined the possibility of creating a truly integrated school system. (The Brown decision ruled that segregation in public schools was prohibited by the U. S. Constitution. The decision overturned the Court’s ruling in the 1890s that had allowed southern states to establish “separate but equal” educational systems for blacks and whites.) [...]

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-09T08:49:06-06:00
ID
159677
Comment

More: After the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, state and local officials reluctantly adopted the freedom-of-choice method of school desegregation, which essentially stated that any student could choose to go to any school in a school district. Mississippi used this mechanism to keep largely segregated schools while allowing token desegregation and maintaining the private- and state-sanctioned terror against black citizens who pressed for further school integration. In 1968, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled, in Green vs. County School Board, that freedom of choice had proved ineffective and was no longer an acceptable method of school desegregation. A year later, the Supreme Court in a landmark decision, Alexander vs. Holmes, which spoke directly to thirty school districts in Mississippi but ultimately to the entire South, ordered the immediate termination of dual school systems and the establishment of unitary systems. The official white response in Mississippi to the Green and Alexander decisions echoed the response to the original Brown decision: state leaders became dedicated converts to the approach recently outlawed and proclaimed their desire to proceed with freedom-of-choice desegregation. Mississippi and other southern leaders clearly recognized the rhetorical value of the phrase, “freedom of choice.” A Mississippi representative told the U. S. House of Representatives that “freedom of choice is the only way to save quality public education. Freedom of choice – what can be more American? Or more democratic?”

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-09T08:49:53-06:00
ID
159678
Comment

Don't miss the part about the "Freedom of Choice" boondoggle: Freedom of choice Mississippi leaders often claimed that the freedom-of-choice mechanism led to limited desegregation simply because blacks did not choose to go to white schools – something of a partial truth. Seeking better resources for black education, many black parents – with help from civil rights organizations such as the Delta Ministry, the American Friends Service Committee, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and others – did take the often difficult step of choosing a white school for their children. But the freedom-of-choice strategy for achieving school desegregation implied that people actually had the freedom to choose. In much of the South, most black people did not. In Mississippi between 1964 and 1969, black parents who chose white schools for their children were regularly intimidated in myriad ways, and the handful of black students who actually entered white schools under the freedom-of-choice system often faced the wrath of generally unsympathetic white teachers and students. Freedom of school choice proved essentially meaningless as a mechanism for ending school segregation, a fact that may largely explain why Mississippi leaders persisted in promoting the remedy after the courts ruled it invalid. They continued the sixteen-year-old crusade to circumvent the Brown requirement to dismantle the state’s dual school system. Many believed that even the most recent obstacles to preserving segregated schools could eventually be overcome. White protests As the early 1970 deadline approached for implementing the Alexander decision, white Mississippians adopted a variety of strategies in an effort to dodge the ruling: White parents adopted the tactics of the civil rights movement, organizing protest marches, mass rallies, student boycotts, and sit-ins at white schools to protest the recent desegregation orders. White parents and other white opponents of school integration claimed they did not oppose desegregation; they only feared the destruction of neighborhood schools through mechanisms such as busing.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-09T08:50:50-06:00
ID
159679
Comment

And then there are the "segregation academies," which still have very few people of color today (and some even use rebel flags as their symbol): Private academies Whites in the Delta and many other black-majority school districts in Mississippi came to see abandonment of the public schools for often hastily organized private segregation academies as the only way to preserve “quality” white education. Mississippi Governor John Bell Williams sympathized, but along with most state politicians and business leaders, recognized that abandoning public schools permanently would damage the state’s continuing efforts to attract industry to the state. Between 1966 and 1970, however, the number of private schools in the state rose from 121 to 236, and the number of students attending these schools tripled; most of this growth occurred in black-majority districts. Fewer whites fled from public schools in white-majority districts. Though whites abandoned public schools in droves in many black-majority districts, they did not relinquish control over these schools. In some locales, the newly enfranchised black population had succeeded in electing a black school board member or two, but even there, whites sometimes thwarted black participation. Most districts, however, had appointed board members, and whites continued to control school systems that neither their children nor those of their white neighbors attended. As a result, they had little incentive to make the improvements to black education already long postponed. There is more there; click on the link to read the full report And find more about Mississippi's "segregation academies" at this link.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-09T08:52:28-06:00
ID
159680
Comment

One important lesson of this quick history lesson is that segregationists and their apologists even then claimed that schools were "integrated" in the '60s because of the fake "school choice" attempt to stave off actually ending forced segregation. Some people still repeat that rhetoric about the 1960s, including apparently Barbour. Doing so now, and making excuses for Jim Crow laws in Mississippi today is just as racist as it was then, perhaps more so. If one says those things out of ignorance, at least one has an excuse until one has a chance to become educated. If one who knows better, such as Barbour, says it, then we have a real problem and natural embarrassment on our hands.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-09T08:57:52-06:00
ID
159681
Comment

Thanks for the lesson Donna. One thing that Barbour reveals in his commentaries is the arrogance of the white elite class in MS when it comes to issues of leadership. The ruling class in MS only rules for itself. They have no desire to actually deal with the problems that ravage poor and minority communities in this state. They only want to maintain power and appease their "constituency" by giving conservative rhetoric in response to pressing needs of the community. For example, in light of the educational disparities in this state, Barbour convenes a consolidation commission to explore the notion, knowing that nothing would come of it (local districts have to agree to it). Notice, though, Barbour then touts that “the top performing 20 districts would be exempt for consolidating”, blatantly noting that this discussion would not include districts like Desoto, Rankin, Madison, Clinton, Tupelo, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, etc. ; the locales of white political elite leadership in this state. Meanwhile, the issue with educational disparity is that struggling districts are in communities that do not have access to resources (fiscal, human, social and physical plant) necessary to sustain high performing school districts. Without sharing the wealth of resources from these “successful” districts, how was consolidating two struggling districts gonna save money or improve student achievement? It was not. And that is precisely the point about the political leadership in this state. So long as their constituency is happy, whatever anybody else struggles with is either their own fault (due to a lack of “moral fiber”, discipline, or intellect) or it is the result of “failed liberal welfare policies” from the feds that they have no control over. They arrogantly ignore the historical, social, economic, and political realities that characterize the state’s standing concerning the poor and minority populations. I even say that the notion that MS is a “red” state is only apparent in the leadership. If you look at the average citizen in the state, you would find that if it were not for affective disfranchisement and apathy, most citizens would be politically active and aware enough to actually vote for the own interests. Political conservatism is only apparent in MS in the leadership. Most people here know that these conservative policies only benefit a relative few in the state. Yet, the concentration of wealth and therefore power dictates that those few will have the more powerful voice. What we have here in MS is effectively an oligarchy of a few white male elites who use quasi Christian rhetoric to play on (not so) subtle, but very strident racist, sexist, and xenophobic fear and ignorance. I must say, that it appears to be very effective in maintaining the status quo.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2010-09-09T09:43:51-06:00
ID
159683
Comment

Excellent post, Blackwatch. And I suspect you didn't need the lesson. ;-) Seriously, it always pains me to learn how little so many Mississippians know about our recent history. But as a white woman who grew up with *no* real Jim Crow/civil rights history (and didn't know what the "black codes" were until I was nearly 40 years old, probably), I know that people don't know what they don't know. What infuriates me is when people don't want to know facts, and then jump to defend lies and distortions just because they don't want to believe something is true. And the saddest part is it is those very apologists who come across as believing they are somehow guilty in the sins of the past, rather than those who are willing to face it and use it to inform decisions. Make sense?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-09-09T12:42:14-06:00
ID
159687
Comment

Blackwatch-if there was a "like" button on your post I would have hit it about five times.

Author
Lori G
Date
2010-09-09T14:42:10-06:00
ID
159694
Comment

It seems that we take two steps up and four back. Today as I passed the New Federal Building, there is graffiti painted with these words: "KILL PRESIDENT OBAMA". It is a felony to threaten a president. I hope that the coward(s) who did this will be caught, quick, fast and in a hurry. I know that this is not the thread for this information; however, I can't help but think of the correlation between this Governor, Palin, Birthers, Tea Party and some others who have said so many negative things about President Obama. I'm not saying that they would do this: What I am saying is that their rhetoric gives gasoline to a burning FIRE!

Author
justjess
Date
2010-09-10T09:40:03-06:00
ID
159695
Comment

Also, Gov.Barbour said just a few days ago in an interview on National TV, that President Obama is the president that Americans have the least amount of information about. Cris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball" challenged Gov. Barbour to go to any MS Library and assured him that he would find copies of the President's books. "Read them" was his directive to OUR Governor.

Author
justjess
Date
2010-09-10T09:47:21-06:00
ID
159696
Comment

Blackwatch, It is scary how dead on you are with this topic I don't agree with you all the time, but you are spot on with that last post

Author
Duan C.
Date
2010-09-10T10:47:16-06:00
ID
159703
Comment

I understand whites systematically kept blacks from recieving educations in the past. But to somehow claim that a child can't become educated now, because of an evil white man is rediculous. What I have more trouble believing is that any man would want more uneducated people around them. And what I have even more trouble believing is that if we gave more money to schools, that educational quality would rise signifigantly. Teachers would get raises, fancier schools would be built, but we'd still have ignorant kids all around us.

Author
Mark Ellis
Date
2010-09-10T13:28:11-06:00
ID
159705
Comment

Hey JustJess, Can you give us more info on the graffiti? When did you see this and on what side of the building? You can email me @ Lacey@jacksonfreepress.com

Author
Lacey McLaughlin
Date
2010-09-10T15:27:38-06:00
ID
159707
Comment

I don't know that I have ever disagreed with Blackwatch.

Author
Walt
Date
2010-09-10T16:43:50-06:00
ID
159714
Comment

@ Mark Ellis But to somehow claim that a child can't become educated now, because of an evil white man is rediculous. What I have more trouble believing is that any man would want more uneducated people around them. In all honesty, I want to give Barbour the same benefit of the doubt that your giving him. But when you look at his attitude towards funding education, considering those dollars are going to public schools and not private, then you look at the ethnic make up of public schools in the state of Mississippi - it will show that your public schools in Mississippi are mostly black. Then you have to look at the fact his kids attended private schools - that really did not get integrated until they graduated from the very same schools. Mississippi has not improved under his administration, it just maintained the bottom dweller status it has in regards to numerous categories in quality of life for Mississippi residents. For some reason, beyond me and appearing to me, those with political power are okay with the economic condition of this state at the very detriment of its citizens. Just so they can maintain some sort of "elite" status - it's about control Mark, as illogical as that may sound or seem to you, it's very very real and alive and well here in this very state. I don't know your ethnic background, but as a black man, I live it and see it everyday and as a northern transplant it saddens me, because it's 2010 and people still have this odd notion or dependency on the color of their skin, to ensure where they live, if they are succesful or if they are superior to someone else. I see this in all kinds of places, in classrooms, work places, restuarants, grocery stores, gas stations, through general interaction in driving places or walking in shopping centers - or better yet when someone is having a difficult time with someone being the president of the united states and saying - it's his policies I disgaree with.

Author
Duan C.
Date
2010-09-13T12:00:57-06:00
ID
159730
Comment

And what I have even more trouble believing is that if we gave more money to schools, that educational quality would rise signifigantly. Teachers would get raises, fancier schools would be built, but we'd still have ignorant kids all around us. Mark: We have a serious disconnect between what we expect teachers to accomplish and the resources—from pay to books to buildings—that we give them to accomplish the task. On the one hand, we spout platitudes about "children being our future," yet we don't pay teachers enough to attract the best and brightest, and don't give schools enough money to provide textbooks. The average salary for a Mississippi teacher is about $40K. That's hardly an incentive to go into the field if you have other options, much less an incentive to stay in it for long. I'm not saying that more money will immediately cure all of our education problems. On the other hand, one sure path to continue having mediocre students and mediocre teachers is to continue to devalue public schools and the work that teachers do. With notable exceptions, the decline level of education our kids get in public schools is a reflection of our declining investment in teachers and educational resources -- which is to say "not much." We've been digging this hole for decades. Public education is one area conservatives have long wanted to make disappear altogether (along with the entire Dept. of Education). It's more important, apparently, to give corporate welfare than to adequately fund schools.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-09-13T19:56:34-06:00

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