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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Hodding Carter, April 1, 1974. Interview A-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Race dominates politics in Mississippi

Carter sees a chance of a moderate Republican Party in Mississippi, despite the enduring presence of race in state politics and culture.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Hodding Carter, April 1, 1974. Interview A-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
In predicting the future coalition that would form the Democratic Party you said you believed the top level business and financial community would move into the Republican Party. Do you see any chance of it remaining in the Democratic Party in coalition with blacks because they'd have the same common interest in developing this state into a modern industrial society?
HODDING CARTER:
Well, I can't answer that yes because that assumes that the guys who are now the top leadership of the economic and other can't find plenty of people in the Republican Party who want to develop it. I mean, you know, economically and bring it into a kind of modern society.
JACK BASS:
To go into the Republican Party, then you're saying you're going to end up with a basically moderate Republican Party.
HODDING CARTER:
I'd say there's as much potential for that as not. Look, there's never any escaping race in Mississippi. And therefore there's no escaping the implications of your earliest question to me about, you know, what if certain things happen. Assuming, at any rate, that there's no great reversal and that we stay at least on the plateau we're on now in terms of the way races deal with each other, then the Republican Party, despite it's catering often to disenchanted Dixiecrats, can damn well construct itself as a moderate party on race. And certainly has enough little tentative starts in that direction already to suggest that it's not going to be destructive to them. I mean, God knows, it's all Christmas trimming. But Thad Cockran, you know, gets himself a black field guy. And that may be trimming, but it's more than Jim Eastland's done. And it's more than John Stennis has done. And Clark Reed very carefully gets himself a black lawyer to be on the state exec—you know, whatever he is, I can't remember what those guys are. Another one was a delegate from his own home county and that's, you know, clearly very conscious tokenism, buton the other hand, it's being done. And I don't see—. The national bit on busing is just that. I don't think it's going to have a goddamn thing to do with what people have to do politically in Mississippi, you know, to become politically dominant. Which is to get a good chunk of the black vote.