White Citizens Parties

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The White Citizens Parties were autonomous local parties (often county based) in the greater Southern United States, that served as the public face and often directly as what would today be considered Political Action Committees for racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. These groups flourished after Reconstruction when the Union withdrew its troops from the South. These parties were pivotal in establishing and maintaining Jim Crow legislation at the local level, and offered coordinated support of the Democratic Party until it began opposing segregation. Over time, many of the parties were subsumed into the Democratic Party and, in the late 20th century, the Republican Party. The Civil Rights Movement overcame the system that supported the White Citizens Parties, and they have largely disappeared, although some of them survive under the name Citizens Party (no link with the Citizens Party of Barry Commoner) or Council of Conservative Citizens, and occasionally field serious local candidates with positions to the right of their Republican and Democratic colleagues.

While the term White Citizens Party is common, these groups were never a cohesive third party.