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Eyes on the Prize
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Citizens' Councils

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Alabama Governor George Wallace, holding photograph of alleged "known agitators," while speaking to Citizens' Council group in Atlanta, 1963.

In reaction to Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that declared segregation illegal in 1954, some Southerners formed local Citizens' Councils. Many white community leaders in the South -- doctors, lawyers, bankers and politicians -- joined the group, leading their opponents to call them a "white-collar Klan" who used their legal and economic power to suppress blacks in their communities. The editor of the organization's newspaper said, "The strategy of the Citizens' Council during the year following the U.S. Supreme Court decision was to delay, to delay, to delay...", trying to indefinitely postpone racial integration in public facilities including schools. The Council also worked to keep blacks from voting, arguing that poorly educated voters could be easily manipulated by corrupt influences.

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Eyes on the Prize Blackside American Experience