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Oral History Interview with James P. Coleman, September 5, 1990. Interview A-0338. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    James P. Coleman was born and raised in Ackerman, Mississippi, in 1914. After attending the University of Mississippi and George Washington University Law School, Coleman became involved in Mississippi politics in the 1930s. He served on the staff of Congressman A. L. Ford, and went on to become a district attorney and then a judge, serving briefly on the Mississippi Supreme Court in the 1940s. From 1950 to 1956, Coleman served as the attorney general for Mississippi and was elected governor in 1956. After one term as governor, Coleman became a congressman, serving from 1960 to 1964. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals, where he served until 1981. In this interview, Coleman concentrates on Mississippi politics from the 1930s through the 1960s. Focusing specifically on the intersection of race and politics, Coleman offers his views on slavery and segregation. According to Coleman, segregation was widely accepted by both blacks and whites, although he believed integration was inevitable. Coleman notes that prominent court cases were important harbingers for racial change, but he identifies the 1948 Democratic National Convention as the true watershed moment for southern politics.
    Excerpts
  • Description of segregation as an accepted social condition in 1930s Mississippi
  • Racially moderate Mississippi politican describes changing race relations
  • The Mississippi Democratic delegates walk out of the 1948 Democratic National Convention
  • Racially moderate view of the inevitable demise of Jim Crow segregation
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Mississippi--Politics and government
  • Mississippi--Race relations
  • School integration--Mississippi
  • Democratic Party (Miss.)
  • Lynching--Mississippi
  • Segregation--Mississippi
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.