Five hours before addressing a highly unpredictable audience in Sanders Theater Ross C. Barnett, Governor of Mississippi, relaxed in his Boston hotel suit and discussed with a CRIMSON reporter possible questions his speech might raise. He had just returned from a visit to the office of Gov. Endicott Peabody '40, where he was "very courteously received."
Asked if he thought integration would soon come to Mississippi, he described a little button he had seen hundreds of people in Mississippi wearing. "Those buttons say, 'Never,' and you know what they mean."
Not Racial Hatred
Barnett said he hoped he could make it clear that segregation is not the same thing as racial hatred. "Why, we work right along side the Nergo in our factories; we do everything we can for him," the Governor explained. "We spend 70 per cent of our state funds for education on Negro schools.
"A couple of years ago I even took a Negro home and loaned him $1100 so as he could buy 70 acres of land," the Governor said. "Why, he paid back every penny of that money, with interest, and today that land is worth upwards of $12,000. We go shooting bird together practically every week."
"Now there's a humble Negro that knows his place," Barnett said. "We get along just fine."
When asked if Negroes in Mississippi wanted integration, the Governor said 95 per cent of them did not, that out of state people were pushing them. "I've got eight good Negro servants in my mansion," he said. "They live in the basement--nice rooms--and every so often they cut each other up and we have to send them to the hospital, but they don't want integration; they're hapy as is."
Integration continued long enough, Barnett said, would lead to a "mongrelization of races" and the decline of the white race. "You look at Egypt," he said. "They were the greatest white race in the world, until the Negroes came along. Then they started to go down hill. Just look at them now."
"The same thing will happen here if there's integration," he suggested.
Barnett is a large, jowly man, but with sharp features. In private, he speaks and reacts quietly and slowly, clipping what would otherwise be a stage drawl. He enjoys smiling, and smiles often with an expression of complete pleasure.
Why did he come to Harvard? Because Harvard is an institution of great wisdom and fame, and he was honored to be invited to speak to her.