White Citizens’ Council: A Group That Worked Hard to Keep Blacks Oppressed in the South

Written by Jae Jones

At a large Council meeting in the Garrett Coliseum, before the Montgomery Boycott, a mimeographed flyer was distributed saying:

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, sling shots and knives. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all whites are created equal with certain rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers.”


The Citizens’ Councils (also known as the White Citizens’ Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, their main concentration was in the South. The group was formed on July 11, 1954.

In 1954 the US Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education that legal segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. It is believed that the White Citizens’ Council formed shortly after in Greenwood, Mississippi. The group’s leader was Robert B. Patterson, a plantation manager and a former captain of the Mississippi State University football team. Many other chapters arose quickly in the South after the original chapter formed.


“At this time, most southern states had legal racial segregation of all public facilities, dating from the late 19th century; in places where laws did not require segregation, Jim Crow custom generally enforced it. From 1890 to 1908, the states had disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites by passing new constitutions and other laws making voter registration and elections more difficult. Despite civil rights organizations winning some legal challenges, most blacks in the 1950s were still disfranchised in the South and remained so until after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” (Wikipedia)

The group was formed in response to the activism by the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, a grassroots civil rights organized by T.R.M Howard of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. The differentiated themselves from the Ku Klux Klan by meeting opening and was seen as “pursuing the agenda of the Klan.”


The Citizen’s Councils used economic tactics against African Americans to keep them oppressed. If there were known Blacks where were for the desegregation, members of the NAACP, and were pursing voting rights these are the individuals who they targeted the most. The White Councils would then deny bank loans, call in the mortgages of blacks, push employers to fire them and boycott -owned business. There were many leading politicians, state and local, who were members of the Council. So, this gave the organization a great amount of power and influence over the states legislatures.

On July 16, 1956, the pressured the Louisiana State Legislature to pass a law mandating racial segregation in nearly every aspect of life. The bill was signed and passed by governor Earl Longs.


“An Act to prohibit all interracial dancing, social functions, entertainments, athletic training, games, sports, or contests and other such activities; to provide for separate seating and other facilities for white and negroes. That all persons, firms, and corporations are prohibited from sponsoring, arranging, participating in or permitting on premises under their control … such activities involving personal and social contact in which the participants are members of the white and negro races … That white persons are prohibited from sitting in or using any part of seating arrangements and sanitary or other facilities set apart for members of the negro race. That Negro persons are prohibited from sitting in or using any part of seating arrangements and sanitary or other facilities set apart for white persons.”(Wikipedia)


The White Councils also had a great influence on young children. They produced books that taught the children Heaven was segregated. The council was able to keep schools segregated until 1964. When segregation did take place they the Council went on to set up private “segregation academies” for their children. Read more.



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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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