In 1971 I testified in Yazoo City about how the county formed its juries. Among its registered voters, Yazoo County was almost exactly 50% white, 50% black. White officials supposedly drew juries from the list of registered voters, supposedly randomly. Nevertheless, juries, consisting of twelve members and two alternates, kept coming out twelve white, two black. Moreover, the African Americans would often be the same two individuals! As a sociologist, it was not hard to do the statistics and show that this could hardly have happened by chance. Indeed, such a string of juries would have occurred randomly less than one time in four billion attempts! Haley Barbour was 24. He had just managed the U.S. Census for the state of Mississippi, so he had to know the racial composition of his home town. He had enrolled in Ole Miss law school and had connections with his family’s law firm in Yazoo City, so he had to know the racial composition of Yazoo’s juries. Yet about the state of civil rights in his home town, as he told Andrew Ferguson, “I just don’t remember it as being that bad.”
Pretty damning, I think.
Small upside: hopefully people who haven’t thought about the history of this country have learned a little bit more than they knew before.