Council of Conservative Citizens
|Abbreviation||CofCC or CCC|
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
|Headquarters||St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.|
The Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC or CCC) is an American white supremacist organization. It supports white nationalism, and a variety of conservative and paleoconservative causes. Its statement of principles says that they "oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind".
The CofCC traces its provenance to the segregationist Citizens' Councils of America, which was founded in 1954, but had slipped to obscurity by 1973. The original CofCC mailing list came from the Citizen's Council, as did several members of the CofCC Board of Directors.
The Council of Conservative Citizens was founded in 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia, and then relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. The CofCC was formed by white supremacists, including some former members of the Citizens' Councils of America, sometimes called the White Citizens' Councils, a segregationist organization that was prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. Lester Maddox, former governor of Georgia, was a charter member. Gordon Lee Baum, a retired personal injury lawyer, was CEO until he died in March 2015. Earl P. Holt III of Longview, Texas is the president. Leonard Wilson, a former Alabama State Committeeman for both Republican and Democratic parties, sits on the CofCC Executive Board.
The organization often holds meetings with various other paleoconservative organizations in the United States, and sometimes meets with nationalist organizations from Europe. In 1997, several members of the CofCC attended an event hosted by Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front party.
Following several articles detailing some of its members' past involvement with the White Citizens' Councils, several conservative politicians distanced themselves from the organization. One such politician was Bob Barr, who had spoken at CofCC functions, saying he found the group's racial views to be "repugnant," and did not realize the nature of the group when he agreed to speak at the group's meeting. Barr gave the keynote speech at its 1998 national convention.
In later years, additional media articles on the involvement of other politicians with the CofCC attempted to force a distinct denunciation of their association with the organization. For instance, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had also been a member of the CofCC. Following the report, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Jim Nicholson, denounced the CofCC for holding "racist and nationalist views" and demanded that Lott formally denounce the organization. Although Lott refused to denounce the organization, he stated that he had resigned his membership. Subsequently, Nicholson demanded Lott denounce his former segregationist views following a speech he gave at Senator Strom Thurmond's birthday dinner when he applauded the Senator's 1948 Dixiecrat presidential campaign. Following the controversy Nicholson's demands initiated, Lott apologized for his past support for segregation, his past associations, and his remarks at Thurmond's birthday. This caused him loss of support from a number of important conservatives, not least Thurmond himself. Consequently, Lott resigned his post as Senate Minority Leader. Similarly, former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt also attended an event of the organization's St. Louis predecessor, the "Metro-South Citizens Council", shortly before the name was changed in the mid-1980s. This was an event he has repeatedly referred to as a mistake. In 1993, Mike Huckabee, then the Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, agreed to speak at the CofCC's national convention in Memphis, Tennessee in his pursuit of the governorship of Arkansas. By the time of the CofCC convention, Huckabee was unable to leave Arkansas. Instead, he sent a videotaped speech, which "was viewed and extremely well received by the audience," according to the CofCC newsletter. However, following his success in the election, in April 1994, Huckabee withdrew from a speaking engagement before the CofCC. He commented, "I will not participate in any program that has racist overtones. I've spent a lifetime fighting racism and anti-Semitism."
Other conservative national and state politicians who refused to denounce, distance, or resign their membership and continued attending meetings and giving speeches remained prominent political leaders within the conservative movement. Former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina remained supportive of the CofCC and consistently won his elections, and support from the CofCC was considered decisive enough that the organization was influential in office throughout his terms in the Senate. Similarly, former governors H. Guy Hunt of Alabama and Kirk Fordice of Mississippi, as well as Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina remained active members and/or gave speeches to the organization.
The SPLC and the Miami Herald tallied a further 38 federal, state, and local politicians who appeared at CofCC events between 2000 and 2004. The ADL states the following politicians are members or have spoken at meetings: Senator Trent Lott, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Mississippi state senators Gary Jackson, and Dean Kirby, several Mississippi state representatives. People who have also spoken at CofCC meetings include Ex-Governors Guy Hunt of Alabama, and Kirk Fordice of Mississippi. U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi is said to have attended as well.
In 2005, the Council of Conservative Citizens held its National Conference in Montgomery, Alabama. George Wallace Jr., an Alabama Public Service Commissioner and former State Treasurer who was then running for Lieutenant Governor, and Sonny Landham, an actor, spoke at the conference.
Mississippi is the only state that has major politicians who are open CofCC members, including State Senators and State Representatives. The CofCC once claimed 34 members in the Mississippi legislature.
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The CofCC considers itself a traditional conservative group opposing liberals and neo-conservatives; it supports national self-determination, immigration restriction, federalism, and home rule, and opposes free trade and global capitalism. Its specific issues include states' rights, race relations (especially interracial marriage, which it opposes), and conservative Christian values. They have criticized Martin Luther King, Jr., who is considered by the organization as a left-wing agitator of Black American communities with notable ties to communism, and holding personal sexual morals unworthy of a person deserving national recognition. They consider the American Civil Rights Movement and the Frankfurt School as elementally subversive to the separation of powers under the United States Constitution. The Council of Conservative Citizens is active in organizing the restriction, reduction, or moratorium of immigration, enforcing laws and regulations against illegal aliens, ending what they see as racial discrimination against whites through affirmative action and racial quotas, overturning Supreme Court rulings and Congressional Acts such as forced busing and gun control, ending free trade economic policy, and supporting a conservative sexual morality, which includes promotion of the Defense of Marriage Act and opposition to the inclusion of homosexuality as a civil right.
The CofCC's statement of principles condemns the federal government's intervention into state and local affairs in forcing racial integration (item 2), free-trade and globalism, immigration by non-Europeans (item 2), homosexuality, and interracial marriage (item 6).
Various critics describe the organization as a hate group. The New York Times called it a white separatist group with a thinly veiled white supremacist agenda. The Anti-Defamation League said "Although the group claims not to be racist, its leaders traffic with other white supremacist groups". The CofCC is considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to be part of the "neo-confederate movement," and organizations such as the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens and the Anti-Defamation League consider it a threat. Max Blumenthal has called it America's premier racist organization and elementally dangerous to America.
Conservative columnist Ann Coulter has defended the group against charges of racism, stating on the basis of a viewing of their website that there is "no evidence" that the CofCC supports segregation. Coulter and Pat Buchanan are listed as being recommended columnists on the organization's official website.
Mass murderer Dylann Roof searched the Internet for information on "black on White crime", and the first website he found was the CofCC website. He cited its portrayal of "black on White murders" as something that radically changed him ("I have never been the same since that day"). The CofCC issued a statement on its website "unequivocally condemn[ing]" the attack, but that Roof has some "legitimate grievances" against black people. An additional statement from Earl Holt III, president of the CofCC, disavowed responsibility for the crime and stated that the group's website "accurately and honestly report[s] black-on-white violent crime". In the days following Roof's arrest and subsequent investigation it was revealed that Holt had made campaign contributions to several conservative politicians including 2016 Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and Rand Paul, as well as Tom Cotton and Mia Love; all subsequently announced that they would return Holt's contributions or donate them to a fund for the families of Roof's victims.
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