21ST CENTURY’S WHITE CITIZEN COUNCILS
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Texas Governor Greg Abbot, and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey are in the eye of a storm of criticism for tricking immigrants into boarding planes in Texas and transporting them to states and cities with democratic leadership under the pretense of jobs, housing, and asylum.
Although Hurricane Ian might give DeSantis a tranche of free publicity and the opportunity to look like a savior just weeks from his bid for a second gubernatorial term, his act of human-trafficking migrants may return to bite him in the butt.
DeSantis could have used the taxpayers’ money to fly 50 migrants to a resort town to help Floridians. The latter have lost everything they own and are homeless due to the most significant hurricane to hit Florida.
After reviewing the facts, Newsweek concluded that it’s true that DeSantis allocated $12 million of the state’s budget to transport migrants. DeSantis tried to blunt the news about his human trafficking stunt when he announced that Florida’s “first lady,” Casey DeSantis started a private fund for hurricane survivors, which, ironically, collected $12 million in donations.
That DeSantis is an asylum denier is both hypocritical and hateful. First, while he probably considers himself White, his Italian ancestors immigrated from southern Italy.
While the blackness of African General Hannibal remains debatable, his occupation of southern Italy for 15 years is evident in the dark complexions of Italians whose ancestors hailed from that part of Italy. DeSantis’s ruddy complexion speaks volumes about the African gene pool that impacted south Italy.
Additionally, DeSantis should be empathetic regarding immigrants. His great-great-grandmother almost didn’t get into the U.S.
Megan Smolenyak, a professional genealogist and former chief historian for Ancestry.com, recently published the details of DeSantis’ ancestor Luigia Colucci’s trip on Medium, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Colucci left Italy in early 1917 and arrived at Ellis Island on February 21. While Colucci crossed the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917. Among other restrictions on “undesirable” immigrants, it barred illiterate people from entering the United States.
Colucci couldn’t read or write, according to immigration documents. But she got in because the law didn’t go into effect until May. She was allowed in.
Whether DeSantis considers himself White or not, the actions of the former congressman, fellow tea partiers, and Trumpsters reek of white supremacy and racialized terrorism.
In transporting migrants and denying the legitimacy of the 2020 election, DeSantis, Abbott, and Ducey are shilling for votes and recruiting rabidly racist white supremacists to join the Republican Party. They are all in for courting Trump’s MAGA base.
One thing is most telling about their actions and the Republican Party. The human-trafficking scheme has its roots in tactics employed by White Citizen Councils in the Deep South. The Supreme Court abolished legal school segregation on Monday, May 17, 1954. Immediately White Southerners formed Citizens’ Councils — organizations of white segregationists and supremacists who opposed integration and the Supreme Court decision. They became known as White Citizens Councils among civil rights leadership.
Mississippi Circuit Court Judge convened the first Citizens’ Council meeting in a living room in Indianola, Mississippi. They published a book entitled Black Monday (to decry the day segregation died in the U.S. Supreme Court via the Brown v. Board of Education decision). It outlined their simple beliefs: African Americans were inferior to Whites, and the races must remain separate.
The White Citizen Council’s weekly TV and radio programs and promotional films spotlighting the benefits of segregation were forerunners to the White Supremacists’ websites, podcasts, and social media platforms, like Fox News, Trump’s Truth Social, and far-right television networks like OAN (One American Network).
No doubt, Louisiana and New Orleans’ White City Council members were among the most hard-core segregationists in the U.S.
In 1955, the Citizens’ Council of Louisiana was founded in Homer, a town in Claiborne Parish. William M. “Willie” Reinach became the first statewide Association of Citizens’ Councils president a year later. By the Council’s first anniversary, twenty-eight of Louisiana’s sixty-four parishes had Council chapters, claiming 75,000 to 100,000 members.
Related: Trump’s Penchant for White Supremacy
The Citizens’ Council of Greater New Orleans (CCGNO) was one of the state’s most influential White Citizens Councils. Members included Plaquemines Parish’s leader, Leander Perez, and Dr. Emmett Lee Irwin, the former chief of surgery at Louisiana State University’s Medical School and CCGNO president from 1956 until he died in 1965.
“Perez was so racist he separated his black cows from his white cows,” New Orleans’ civil rights activist Ron Chisom said in a recent interview. Chisom co-founded The Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond, an anti-racism training non-profit.
The 1962 “Freedom Rides North” campaign initiated by CCGNO executive and Plaquemine Parish Judge Leander Perez’s aide George Singelmann was a human trafficking strategy that set a precedent for DeSantis, Abbott, and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s human trafficking schemes.
*In 1962, “reverse” Freedom Rides solicited black families from the South for one-way bus and train tickets to Northern destinations, including Chicago, New York, and Hyannis, Massachusetts, near President John F. Kennedy’s residence.
While the Reverse Freedom Rides began in New Orleans, many originated from other Southern cities, notably Little Rock, Arkansas. The first group sent by the Citizens’ Council arrived in New York by bus on April 21, 1962. According to the Amistad Research Center, it consisted of one large family from Algiers, Louisiana.
African-American “participants” in the Reverse Freedom Rides were offered free one-way transportation and the promise of free housing and guaranteed employment in Northern cities. George Engelmann of the Greater New Orleans Citizens’ Council orchestrated the Reverse Freedom Rides, which served as the Citizens’ Council’s means of testing the sincerity of Northern liberals’ quest for equality for African Americans.
This attempt to embarrass Northern critics of the Citizens’ Councils was a way of, in Singelmann’s words, “telling the North to put up or shut up.”
Engelmann’s vision for the Reverse Freedom Rides was expansive. He wanted chartered buses. He wanted a “Freedom Train” to carry as many as 1,000 Black Louisianans to Chicago. And he wanted buses from Little Rock, Shreveport, and Birmingham, the Texas Observer reported last week.
Engelmann rolled out his plan in a fundraising letter to members of his organization. “We in the Citizens’ Council have long waited to go on the offense in this segregation struggle and we now have that opportunity.” Each bus, he wrote, “will take 39 negroes at a time from our midst. Those on welfare will be given first choice.”
The Citizens’ Councils claimed they did not sanction violence. Still, the venom spouted at their meetings and from their leaders, mainly Mississippi’s segregationist senator and plantation owner James O. Eastland, fostered a violent, reactionary climate where punishment against blacks was sanctioned, according to a PBS documentary. In Louisiana, the Deacons of Defense and CORE were targets of the KKK and the White Citizens. Both groups shared some of the same members.
On September 15, Abbott sent two buses full of migrants near Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington DC,.
Since then April, Abbott bused more than 10,000 migrants. Many of them Venezuelans are seeking legal asylum. Abbott bused them to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago. It cost of more than $12 million, as part of his made-for-TV, publicly-funded initiative, “Operation Lone Star.”
Ducey sent at least 1,600 migrants, mostly asylum seekers, from Columbia, Peru, and Venezuela. to New York, New Jersey, and Florida.
REPUBLICANS & WHITE NATIONALISTS
The Louisiana Weekly reported on the GNOCC human trafficking ploy in “Freedom Bus,” April 14, 1962,
It’s not a stretch to say today’s Republican Party is full of white supremacists and white nationalists. It’s harbored such xenophobes since the Post Reconstruction Era.
Donald Trump Sr. rode into the Oval Office using hate speech and promoting white superiority ideals. He tapped into the racists and fascists in America and showed that hate and violence in the name of white supremacy are acceptable in the mainstream Republican Party.
White nationalist terrorists and white supremacist extremists are the greatest threats to democracy in the U.S. and abroad, according to a 2019 Congressional Hearing, which cited instances of violence carried out by racist and fascist whites. The modern republicans and white nationalists.
“They share an ideology that asserts, among other beliefs, that white people and white identity in Western countries are under siege by massive waves of immigration from non-white countries.
“White nationalists also perpetuate conspiracy theories claiming that Jews control industries, governments, and other organizations through shadow groups that allegedly threaten white civilization.
“White nationalists claim they are protecting the white race and will use any means necessary to defend it,” said Congressman Theodore E. Deutch (FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism.
We’re experiencing an Uncivil War. We don’t need bullets; the ballots are our weapons.