Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour issues a statement about the recent controversy:
Dec. 21, 2010
GOV. BARBOUR’S STATEMENT REGARDING WEEKLY STANDARD ARTICLE
“When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns’ integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn’t tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. 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.”
Will this settle the issue? Perhaps it ought to, at least for the holiday season, and until Barbour makes a decision on a presidential bid.
But if Barbour runs, we will hear a great deal about the word “watermelon” and how it was used and why. He and his campaign had better be ready to handle the inevitable questions, fair and unfair, and predictable media firestorm. No presidential candidate wants to deal with this sort of thing when there are major, pressing issues facing the nation that they would rather discuss. But then again, most presidential candidates aren’t quoted using the term in the New York Times.
For what it is worth, a 2009 article recounting the peaceful integration of Yazoo City’s schools from NPR can be found here.