Coordinating Committee for Fundamental American Freedoms

A prosegregation propaganda organization with close links to the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (MSSC), the Coordinating Committee for Fundamental American Freedoms (CCFAF) was founded in July 1963 and headquartered at the Carroll Arms Hotel in Washington, D.C. It was established after a month of exploratory talks in the capital between Mississippi senator James O. Eastland, MSSC director Erle E. Johnston Jr., Yazoo City attorney John C. Satterfield, and the former executive director of the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, Hugh V. White Jr. The committee’s explicit goal was to raise and coordinate opposition to Pres. John F. Kennedy’s pending civil rights bill, but it also represented a broader ideological effort to bridge the gap between Mississippi’s segregationists and national conservatives. Attempting to recast the South’s sectional battle for continued segregation as part of a broader national conservative movement, the group appointed New England publisher William Loeb as its chair. Virginia newspaperman James J. Kilpatrick served as vice chair, Satterfield held the post of secretary-treasurer, and the founder of Richmond’s Patrick Henry Club, John S. Synon, was hired as full-time director.

The committee disseminated reams of propaganda material (1.4 million mailings by April 1964) decrying the civil rights proposals. Notable pamphlets included The Federal Eye Looking down Your Throat, Blueprint for Total Regimentation, and Due Process of Law or Government by Intimidation?, which originated as a speech Satterfield delivered to the Jackson Rotary Club in November 1962. An advertisement headed “$100 Billion Blackjack” appeared in 215 newspapers published outside the South and drew on many of the traditional arguments of southern resistance to desegregation, including claims that the proposed legislation promoted socialist ideas, violated states’ rights, and would create a dictatorial and “omnipotent president.” Reflecting the committee’s desire to rid itself of the taint of southern resistance’s sectionalism, it made no clear reference to segregation and promoted the committee as a group based in the nation’s capital. CCFAF outspent every other lobby group in the nation in 1964, and that expenditure brought tangible results: New York Republican Kenneth Keating, for example, claimed that the blackjack advertisement swung his mailbag from five to one in favor of the bill to five to two against.

Satterfield, a close aide to Ross Barnett during the University of Mississippi crisis of 1962, former president of the American Bar Association, and according to Time magazine the “most prominent segregationist lawyer in the country,” was the driving force behind the CCFAF. He was also the closest link between the committee and the MSSC, whose board members agreed to pay him $2,000 per month for the first four months of CCFAF’s existence. Indeed, of the $343,191 that CCFAF spent, $262,581 arrived through Sovereignty Commission coffers, and more than $200,000 of that money was donated anonymously by the New York–based racist Wickliffe Preston Draper. Once the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed, Draper offered further financial support for Satterfield’s plans to develop CCFAF into a permanent organization studying state sovereignty and civil rights, but newly elected Mississippi governor Paul B. Johnson Jr. ignored Satterfield’s schemes. After brief attempts to funnel the emerging “white backlash” into support for George C. Wallace’s 1964 presidential campaign, CCFAF dissolved.

Further Reading

  • Joseph Crespino, In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution (2007)
  • Yasuhiro Katagiri, The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission: Civil Rights and States’ Rights (2001)
  • George Lewis, Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement (2006)
  • Clifford M. Lytle, Journal of Negro History (October 1966); James W. Silver, Mississippi: The Closed Society (1963)

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Coordinating Committee for Fundamental American Freedoms
  • Author
  • Keywords coordinating committees for fundamental american freedoms
  • Website Name Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date February 25, 2020
  • Publisher Center for Study of Southern Culture
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 13, 2018