Georgia Democratic Governor Marvin Griffin also attacked Eisenhower’s actions, and praised Arkansas Governor Faubus for his attempt to prevent blacks from entering Central High School. Governor Griffin promised that as long as he held office, he would “maintain segregation in the schools; and the races will not be mixed, come hell or high water.” To prepare for the possibility that Eisenhower might do in Georgia what he had done in Arkansas, legislation was introduced in the Democrat-controlled Georgia legislature so that if desegregation were attempted, the public schools of the State would be dissolved and replaced with State-run private schools so that Arkansas democrat governor Orval Faubus fought for segregation; republican president Dwight d. Eisenhower fought for integration blacks could be excluded. These types of schools became known as “segregation academies.” Meanwhile in Arkansas, Democratic Governor Faubus, unable to prevent black students from attending school because of the federal protection they received, simply shut down the schools for the next year to prevent further attendance. And Virginia Democratic Governor James Almond – like other southern Democratic Governors – shut down public schools rather than permit black students to attend.
In 1960 in Louisiana, where Democratic Governor Jimmie Davis supported segregation, 277 four federal marshals were required to accompany little Ruby Bridges so that she could attend a public elementary school in New Orleans. When Ruby entered that class, every other parent withdrew their children and for the entire year, little Ruby was the only student in that classroom – just Ruby and her schoolteacher from Boston.
So deep-seated was the racism among southern Democratic leaders that when the 1964 civil rights bill became law, Lester Maddox, who became Democratic Governor of Georgia, sold the fast-food business he owned rather than serve blacks in his restaurant. And in 1960, Mississippi Democratic Governor Hugh White had even requested democrat governor George Timmerman closed state facilities to evangelist Billy graham because graham included African Americans in his rallies that evangelist Billy Graham segregate his crusades 280 – something Graham refused to do. And when South Carolina Democratic Governor George Timmerman learned that Billy Graham had invited African Americans to a Reformation Rally at the State Capitol, he promptly denied use of the facilities to the evangelist.
This type of Democratic response against black Americans – and against the whites who supported them – was common across much of the South; and the reasons given by Democratic leaders to justify this disgusting behavior was simply, “States’ Rights” – the same rhetoric they had used a century earlier, first to justify slavery and the creation of a slave-holding nation and then to enact laws enforcing segregation and withholding voting rights from black Americans for the next eighty years after the Civil War. During the era of desegregation, in an effort to remake the image of racism so long and so properly associated with the southern cry of “States Rights,” southern leaders began to claim that the southern Confederate battle flag – the quintessential symbol of a perverted States’ Rights philosophy – was actually a symbol of heritage rather than hate. Consequently, many today wrongly – but innocently – believe that the battle flag of the South is about heritage and not about hate – something easily refuted by historical facts and documents.
Returning to the school desegregation situation, some southern Democratic Governors did work for integration – including Tennessee Governor Frank Clement, Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, and Kentucky Governor Happy Chandler – but the confederate flag IS about heritage, but it is the wrong kind of heritage democrat governors clement and chandler worked for integration these tended to be the exceptions among southern Democratic Governors rather than the rule, and their admirable behavior was clearly overshadowed by the negative behavior of the others.