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Jim Johnson and Race

In 1966, the Democratic nominee for governor was James D. Johnson, the former head of the Arkansas Association of White Citizens’ Councils that had been in the vanguard of opposition to school desegregation in the 1950s. From the outset, Johnson made it plain where he stood. He refused to shake hands with black voters and insisted that he “did not campaign in their community.” Johnson was defeated by Republican Winthrop Rockefeller, with black votes making up the margin of victory. Two years later, Johnson was George Wallace’s point man when he won the state in his bid for the presidency under the banner of the American Independence Party. Johnson was left embittered by having to pick up the tab.