"Because the business community wouldn't stand for it," he said. "You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you'd lose it. If you had a store, they'd see nobody shopped there. We didn't have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City."
"In fact, if you look at Yazoo City, their approach to integration was very similar to other communities across the state, where the parents pulled their children out of the public school system so white children would not have to attend an integrated school system," responded Johnson. "They established a private segregated academy which still exists today. The majority of the white citizens of Yazoo County and Yazoo City still do not allow their children to attend public education today. That trend happened as a result of the civil rights movement and full integration, and that the struggle that blacks had across the state was the same in Yazoo City as it was across the state."
Robert Mickey, an associate political science professor at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, said that Barbour is correct in asserting that the Citizens Councils were often against Klan organizations forming in their communities. It wasn't, however, to promote racial integration; instead, they were concerned that such groups would spoil the economic environment, and in turn, Citizens Councils used economic intimidation to further segregation.
"This was an organization that spread very quickly across the South, directly in response to Brown v. Board of Education," said Mickey in an interview with The Huffington Post Monday. "Usually they were against violence because of its harm to economic development; firms wouldn't want to relocate to places that had a lot of violence. So their tools of slowing down the South's democratization was to use economic intimidation. ... They intimidated black parents from signing petitions demanding that school districts be desegregated, sometimes by printing the signatories in local newspapers, which oftentimes led to the signatures being recanted because the parents understood and feared the consequences of being publicly outed like that. So Barbour's right -- on one hand, they often helped out on the Klan, and a lot of times they were interested in deterring white mob violence. But Northerners are right that it's like the Klan."
But no, Barbour isn't racist. Not one bit. No sirree.