Possible 2012 presidential candidate Barbour clarifies civil rights remark
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who may seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, went into damage control mode Tuesday because of remarks he made about the 1960s civil rights movement in his state.
A profile of Barbour in a conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, included comments from him about what life was like growing up in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
“I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” Barbour said.
The remark risked making Barbour look indifferent to the sometimes violent 1960s effort to end segregation. Mississippi, like its Deep South neighbor Alabama, was a central player in the civil rights movement.
In the article, Barbour also appeared to defend a pro-segregation group, the Citizens Council by saying, “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK (Ku Klux Klan). Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders.”
Barbour is frequently mentioned as one of several Republicans who may seek the presidential nomination in 2012 for the right to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in his re-election bid.
In a statement clarifying what he told the magazine, Barbour said: “My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.”