People For the American Way Foundation

Barbour Apologizes, but the Troubling Impact of His Words Remains

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2010

Contact: Drew Courtney or Miranda Blue at People For the American Way


Phone Number: 202-467-4999

In an interview with the Weekly Standard this week, Mississippi Governor and possible presidential hopeful Haley Barbour downplayed the impact of segregation during the civil rights era and praised the Citizens Councils, groups that opposed desegregation and civil rights. Barbour responded to criticism today with a statement calling the Citizens Councils “indefensible”.

Reverend Timothy McDonald, III, Chairman of African American Ministers in Action and Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, released the following statement:

“We appreciate Governor Barbour’s attempt to clarify statements that for many appeared to be an attempt to rewrite the history of race relations in the state of Mississippi and America. But it is unfortunate that Barbour is so blind to the troubled history of the state he governs that it took a national outcry for him to recognize the offense that his comments caused.

“The quiet racism of historical revisionism is still racism, and it is still harmful. Anyone who governs a diverse state and hopes to govern a diverse country must come to grips with the painful complexities of this nation’s history and the ways that they still impact the lives of Americans. If Gov. Barbour wants to show that he can respect and fight for all Americans, he must show that he can understand the meaning of his words.”