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Haley Barbour’s Disingenuous Comparison

UPDATE 12/29: Justin Elliott spoke with Steve Mangold and was able to elaborate on Mangold's letter.

As you may recall, when Haley Barbour was asked by the Weekly Standard what it was like to grow up in Yazoo City, MS "in the midst of the civil rights revolution," Barbour said, "“I just don’t remember it as being that bad."

While there is lots of evidence to the contrary on the historical record, I thought it worth highlighting this recollection from one of Haley Barbour's fellow white Yazoo City natives, purportedly his best friend when they were growing, up, Steve Mangold.

Haley Barbour was my best friend growing up in Yazoo City.

While he can say that Yazoo missed the violence other towns experienced during the Civil Rights movement, the White Citizens Council did do its part to terrorize those who did not agree with its agenda.

My parents, both physicians, protested attempts by the White Citizens Council and other doctors to turn a federally funded Hill-Burton "separate-but-equal" hospital into a whites only facility in 1955.

Threatening phone calls, dead cats on the lawn and other acts of intimidation combined to run my father out of town for two years.

He lost all of his white patients; my mother, the only pediatrician in town, lost more than half of her white patients.

Yazoo City's blacks continued to die on the nearly hour-long ambulance drive to Jackson, where they could get hospital and trauma care. Blacks with gunshot and knife wounds, burns from kerosene stoves and children with convulsions continued to come to our house for emergency care, and some died because the city fathers on the White Citizens Council didn't want an integrated hospital.

To say, as Haley did, that the White Citizens Council was better than the KKK, is a disingenuous comparison that has more to do with costume than terrorism and organized bullying.

Steve Mangold

San Jose, Calif.

(Letter to the editor, Clarion-Ledger, December 28, 2010, via Jan Hillegas)

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