Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How I Became President Of The Youth For The Unpledged Electors In 1960 Or Politics Can Be Fun If You Don't Take It Seriously

The men in the picture above are from left to right" William D. McCain (President of Mississippi Southern College which became The University of Southern Mississippi in 1962) Governor Ross Barnett and Paul B. Johnson who became Governor of Mississippi after Ross Barnett left office in 1964.

I was a sophomore in college in 1960. I really wasn't interested in politics but it seemed everyone one else was.
    I got wind there was going to be a debate between The Young Democrats and The Young Republicans sponsored by the Economics Department. I think one of the economics professors was going to moderate.
   But I had read enough to know that neither of those two parties were going to win the vote in Mississippi in the election of 1960.
    I happened to run into a fellow I had seen around campus who saw it my way when I told him we should be allowed to take part in the debate. I said we could be The Youth For The Unpledeged Electors.
   I told him this mostly as a joke but I did feel it was unfair for the debate to take place without someone representing the group which would eventually prevail in Mississippi. And so they did. They went to the 1960 Democratic Convention as Unpledged Electors with Governor Ross Barnett as their "Favorite Son". In the end they voted for Senator Harry Byrd for President and Strom Thurmond for Vice President.
    I told this guy who was really worked up over this debate to go ask if we could take part.
There really was no organization it was just the two of us.
He went and asked as was told no we could not take part.

I had thought that would be the end of it. But somehow that guy went to the campus newpaper and got the story about this affair printed and suddenly what I had said half in jest had become a reality.
His name and my name were listed as members of The Youth For The Unpledged Electors. We were listed as President and Vice President of The Youth For The Unpledged Electors.

   One of my fraternity brothers who was from New York found me walking on the campus and asked me what the hell was I up to. I told him it was a joke. He had taken it seriously. I guess when people read something in a newspaper they figure it must be true.

    Then a woman who taught in the home economy department ran me down. She was a cousin of Governor Ross Barnett. She told me what a wonderful thing it was that I was doing and that she wanted me to go with her to Jackson, Mississippi and she would have Ross make me a colonel on his staff.
  I never went with her. I had no intention of going. But it was nice of her to think of me.

In 1962 when my Air National Guard Unit was on active duty during the Berlin Crisis Governor Barnett came to Meridian to wish us all well.
So I finally did meet him. When he stuck out his hand for us to shake I remember how old he was and that his skin was so thin you could see right through it to the veins.
Ross Barnett was a colorful character. He had a way with words. Once a trustee excaped from Parchman Prison and the newspapers asked Ross Barnett about it and he said, "If you can't trust a trustee who can you trust?"

   When I went back to college to finish my degree in 1962/1963 I had a course taught by Miss Vera Barnett. It was called Marriage and Family Life. She still really liked me and gave me an A in the course.
  Below are some links about Ross Barnett and The Unpledged Electors and the election of 1960.
Scroll down in the link above to read about the 1960 election.,_1960#Democratic_convention

If you read the above you will see that I was right about who Mississippi was going to vote for in 1960.