Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wants you to believe that the South's great struggle with segregation was over by the time he came of age. His supposedly post-racial cohort "led the change of parties in the South," from Democratic to Republican, he says in an interview published yesterday by Human Events.
"My generation ... went to integrated schools," Gov. Barbour continues. "I went to integrated college -- never thought twice about it."
That didn't sound quite right to us, since Mississippi schools integrated only in 1970, years after the 62-year-old Barbour would have graduated from Yazoo City High School. He then went to Ole Miss, which admitted its first black freshman in 1964, according to Dr. Charles Eagles, an Ole Miss history professor and author of The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss. That likely would have been either the year Mr. Barbour started at Ole Miss, or the year just before.
Another educator and civil rights historian tells us she knew Haley Barbour personally in Yazoo City. JoAnne Prichard Morris, co-author of Barefootin': Life Lessons from the Road to Freedom, taught a course in humanities in Yazoo City in the 1960s. She started in the white high school and transferred to the black one in 1969.
"Anybody who graduated from high school before 1970 in Mississippi did not go to an integrated school," she said. "Giving Haley the benefit of the doubt, he probably feels like he is of that generation, but he's not."
We'll have much more on this on the show tonight.