50 years ago yesterday, the AP headline was, “Mississippi Suits Attack Vote Act”:
JACKSON, Miss., Sept. 7 (AP)–Attorney General Joe Patterson asked Mississippi courts today to keep off the voting rolls persons registered by Federal examiners under the new voting rights law.
He filed suits in the chancery courts of Leflore, Madison and Jefferson Davis Counties and said a similar suit would be filed in Jones County tomorrow. These are the four Mississippi counties to which Federal examiners have been assigned.
The suits set the stage for a local showdown on conflicted Federal and state requirements for voting.
In the suits, Mr. Patterson said the Federal voting rights law required county registrars to defy state law.
“The clears are on the horns of a dilemma,” Mr. Patterson also said. “They are put in the position of accepting these people registered by Federal registrars and violin state law.”
“These people” would be African-Americans that the good folks of Mississippi didn’t feel deserved the right to vote, because racism. Or the Bible. Or a principled stand. Or whatever.
It was ugly then. It’s ugly now.