1956: Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission
The Mississippi legislature establishes the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. According to John Dittmer in Local People, this organization was a secret police force that, "owed its primary allegiance to the White Citizens' Council." The Sovereignty Commission operated much like a "small time" FBI, placing informants and spies in civil rights groups so as to prevent any real success within the movement.
Shrouded in the rhetoric of state's rights, the act creating the Sovereignty Commission provided the agency with broad powers. The commission's objective was to “do and perform any and all acts and things deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi, and her sister states” from a perceived “encroachment thereon by the Federal Government or any branch, department or agency thereof; to resist the usurpation of the rights and powers reserved to this state and our sister states by the Federal Government or any branch, department or agency thereof.” To exercise this loosely defined objective, the commission was granted extensive investigative capabilities.
As the state's official tax-funded agency to combat activities of the Civil Rights Movement, the commission performed many duties. Although varied, these tasks can be divided into three general functions: investigative, advisory, and public relations. For seventeen years, from 1956 to 1973, the commission spied on civil rights workers, acted as a clearinghouse for information on civil rights activities and legislation from around the nation, funneled money to pro-segregation causes, and distributed right-wing propaganda.
At the meeting members approved a new policy defining the commission as a “watch dog over subversive individuals and organizations that advocate civil disobedience; as a public relations agency for the state; and as an advisor for loca communities on problems resulting from federal laws or court orders.”
In reality, it was business as usual for commission investigators, who continued to track individuals and groups who challenged racial segregation. In addition, the commission served its advisory function by recommending ways to circumvent the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Hey, it's Mister Pickering. (scan of document. Go read).
Let's see what this was about.
Who was Bob Zellner?
What is the SCEF?
Mr. Pickering can escape his past if he starts being honest about it. He hasn't.