James Eastland

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James Eastland

James Oliver Eastland (November 28, 1904February 19, 1986) was the United States Senator from Mississippi in 1941 and from 1943 to 1978. A Democrat, he served as President pro tempore of the Senate (1972–1978) and Chairman on the Judiciary (1956–1978). He is best known as a member of the party’s conservative southern wing, which was comprised of white supremacists who supported racial segregation.




  • I have no prejudice in my heart, but the white race is the superior race and the Negro race an inferior race and the races must be kept separate by law.
    • Johnson, John Harold (1944). Negro Digest. Johnson Publishing Company. p. 72
    • Another, longer, version: I have no prejudice in my heart against any man because of his race, creed, or color. But, Mr. President, I go further than does the distinguished Senator from Arkansas. I am of the opinion that we should have segregation in all the States of the United States by law. What the people of this country must realize is that the white race is a superior race, and the Negro race is an inferior race. Social equality is growing in this country, and in addition to teaching the white race the importance of racial purity, we must prevent racial intermingling by law. (Congressional Record of 1944)
  • When they return to take over they desire more than anything else to see the integrity of the social institutions of the South unimpaired. They desire to see white supremacy maintained. Above all things, they do not desire to see the election laws of the South or the powers of the States in defining the qualifications of electors tampered with. Those boys are fighting to maintain the rights of the States. Those boys are fighting to maintain white supremacy and the control of our election machinery.
  • Who has won this war? Why should the white soldier, the warrior who has returned home after having achieved the greatest victory in history be penalized for political reasons?
  • The Negro soldier was an utter and dismal failure in combat in Europe. When I make that statement, it is not from prejudice. I am not prejudiced against the Negro.
  • In Europe Negro soldiers are used principally as service troops behind the lines, and I state now, on the authority of many American officers, that they were lazy; that they would not work; that it was a mistake to send them to Europe, and furthermore, that they should be returned from Europe and sent to the Pacific, where there are races of color.
  • Negro soldiers would go to farmhouses and holler "Boche! Bache!" as if they were looking for· Germans, call the men of the families out into the yards, and hold guns on them while they went in and criminally assaulted the women members of the family.
  • Mr. President; how does that compare with what happened during 4 years under German occupation? During 4 years while the German army was there, there were two cases of criminal assault, and in each case, the man guilty was apprehended and shot the very day the assault happened, while in the cases of American culprits files would have to come back to Washington, the opposition of the Organization for the Advancement of Colored People would have to be faced, a fight against the infliction of the penalty would be made by the Communist Party, this group and that group, so that it would take 7 or 8 months before any sentence was carried out, and by that time the entire effect of the punishment would be lost.
  • I state that the conduct of the Negro soldier in Normandy, as well as all over Europe, was disgraceful and that Negro soldiers have disgraced the flag of their country. They constitute roughly one-twelfth of the Ameri-can Army, yet they are guilty of more than half the crime in the Army.
  • There will be no FEPC when the soldier gets back home, and I make that statement as one who has visited many of our armies and talked to literally hundreds of American soldiers.
  • I repeat that when communism enters a country it makes the classes class-conscious. It makes races race-conscious, in order to weaken the internal structure of the country and pave the way for communism.
  • We are dealing with an inferior people, and yet we are discriminating against the white soldier, in favor of the inferior person, and under this measure, we are giving the inferior person a preference in securing employment.
  • After Liberia was founded the white man ruled it for a period of 25 to 30 years. It was doing well under white control. But 80 years after the white man withdrew, as the League of Nations found, it had not become even semi-civilized. Yet, Mr. President, we talk about racial equality. I assert that the Negro race is an inferior race. The doctrine of white supremacy is one which, if adhered to, will save America.
  • The people of the South are expected to remain docile while their civilization and culture are destroyed, while their segregation statutes are repealed by Federal action, and while the white race is destroyed under the false guise of another civil-rights bill. We are expected to remain docile while the pure blood of the South is mongrelized by the barter of our heritage by northern politicians in order to secure political favors from Red mongrels in the slums of the cities of the East and West.
  • This much is certain. If the present Democratic leadership is right, then Calhoun and Jefferson Davis were wrong. If the present Democratic leadership is right, then Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner were right, and Lee, Forrest, and Wade Hampton were wrong. If the President’s civil-rights program is right, then reconstruction was right. If this program is right, the carpetbaggers were right.
  • Organized mongrel minorities control the government. I am going to fight it to the last ditch. They are not going to Harlemize the country.
    • Extracts from his speech to the Senate against the FEPC. February 9, 1948
    • Congressional Record, 1948
  • The Senator from New Hampshire certainly does not believe that the Governor of New York would clean Communists out of the Government service, when New York, for all practical purposes, is a Communist State.


  • The southern institution of racial segregation or racial separation was the correct, self-evident truth which arose from the chaos and confusion of the reconstruction period. Separation promotes racial harmony. It permits each race to follow its own pursuits, and its own civilization. Segregation is not discrimination. Segregation is not a badge of racial inferiority, and that it is not is recognized by both races in the Southern States. In fact, segregation is desired and supported by the vast majority of the members of both races in the South, who dwell side by side under harmonious conditions. ... Let me make this clear, Mr. President: There is no racial hatred in the South. The Negro race is not an oppressed race. ... Mr. President, it is the law of nature, it is the law of God, that every race has both the right and the duty to perpetuate itself. All free men have the right to associate exclusively with members of their own race, free from governmental interference, if they so desire. Free men have the right to send their children to schools of their own choosing, free from governmental interference and to build up their own culture, free from governmental interference. These rights are inherent in the Constitution of the United States and in the American system of government, both state and national, to promote and protect this right.
  • That is a very strong statement, Mr. President: “All is race; there is no other truth.” These are known to have been Disraeli's views. Disraeli would have been horrified at a program designed to mongrelize the Anglo-Saxon race which he so greatly admired.
  • The white people of the South do not have race prejudice. They have race consciousness, and they are proud to possess this awareness of the significance of race. Had they not possessed it, the South would have been mongrelized and southern civilization destroyed long ago.
  • On May 17, 1954, the Constitution of the United States was destroyed because of the Supreme Court’s decision. You are not obliged to obey the decisions of any court which are plainly fraudulent sociological considerations.
    • Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954–1965, by Juan Williams, Viking Penguin, January 1, 1987, ISBN 978-0-670-81412-1, p. 38.
    • On August 12, 1955, in Senatobia, Mississippi, about the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. The Board of Education, which found racial segregation in the public schools unconstitutional
  • Today, however, a trend away from traditional standards of propriety begins to be in evidence. Our Court has been indoctrinated and brainwashed by left-wing pressure groups. The Court is out of step with the American people. We see Justices of the Supreme Court banqueted and honored by left-wing Communist-front organizations militantly interested in legislation on which the Supreme Court must pass.
  • As I said, we have more Nigra professional men, more businessmen, we have substantial Nigra cotton planters. In fact, they have made more progress in the south than in the north. The master-servant relationship today is largely a northern product.


  • I don’t like you — or your kind.
  • I would not be surprised if Martin Luther King and these agitators next desecrate the graves of Confederate soldiers and drag their remains through the streets in an effort to garner headlines. And what kind of person is participating in this march? Beatniks, frauds, and persons wanted to answer for crimes in other States.
    • To the Senate about the Grenada, Mississippi civil rights movement, after activists put American flags on the place where a Confederate memorial stood. June 16, 1966
    • Congressional Records



  • In every stage of the [Montgomery] bus boycott we have been oppressed and degraded because of black, slimy, juicy, unbearably stinking niggers. … African flesh-eaters. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, slingshots and knives. … All whites are created equal with certain rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers.

About him

  • the whole political structure in Washington is partly designed to protect the Southern oligarchy. And Bobby Kennedy's much more interested in politics than he is in any of these things, and so for that matter, is his brother. And furthermore, even if Bobby Kennedy were a different person, or his brother, they are also ignorant, as most white Americans are, of what the problem really is, of how Negroes really live. The speech Kennedy made to Mississippi the night Meredith was carried there was one of the most shameful performances in our history. Because he talked to Mississippi as if there were no Negroes there. And this had a terrible, demoralizing, disaffecting effect on all Negroes everywhere. One is weary of being told that desegregation is legal. One would like to hear for a change that it is right! Now, how one begins to use this power we were talking about earlier is a very grave question, because first of all you have to get Eastland out of Congress and get rid of the power that he wields there. You've got to get rid of J. Edgar Hoover and the power that he wields. If one could get rid of just those two men, or modify their power, there would be a great deal more hope. How in the world are you going to get Mississippi Negroes to go to the polls if you remember that most of them are extremely poor, most of them almost illiterate, and that they live under the most intolerable conditions? They are used to it, which is worse, and they have no sense that they can do anything for themselves. If six Negroes go to the polls and get beaten half to death, and one or two die, and nothing happens from Washington, how are you going to manage even to get the ballot?
    • 1969 interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
  • You don't joke about calling black men 'boys.' Men like James O. Eastland used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity.
    • New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who was one of many Democrats to criticize Biden for those remarks
  • Our faith is strong that long after Senator Eastland and his present subcommittee are gone, long after segregation has lost its final battle in the South, long after all that was known as McCarthyism is a dim, unwelcome memory, long after the last Congressional committee has learned that it cannot tamper successfully with a free press, The New York Times will be speaking for (those) who make it, and only for (those) who make it, and speaking, without fear or favor, the truth as it sees it.
  • The Senator from Mississippi has said on the floor of the Senate: We will protect and maintain white supremacy throughout eternity.
    He has said on the floor of the Senate: The Negro race is an inferior race.
    He has said on the floor of the Senate: Let me say frankly that in my Judgment the CIO and the PAC are Communist organizations.
    He has said on the floor of the Senate: New York, for all practical purposes, is a Communist state.
    He has said on the floor of the Senate that the Supreme Court has become indoctrinated and brain-washed by left-wing pressure groups.
  • He has associated himself in a leadership role with the so-called White Citizens Councils whose purpose is to organize defiance to the Constitution of the U. S., as interpreted by the Supreme Court, and which have engaged in activities which I consider to be wholly un-American and dangerous to American democracy.
    I believe that Senator Eastland is a symbol of racism in America.
    I believe that Senator Eastland is a symbol of defiance to the Constitution of the U. S. as interpreted by the Supreme Court.
    I believe that Senator Eastland is precluded by philosophy, conviction and activities from presiding over the Senate Judiciary Committee as chairman in an impartial way, and from discharging the agency of the Senate in that regard.
  • Jim Eastland could be standing right in the middle of the worst Mississippi flood ever known, and he'd say the niggers caused it, helped out by the Communists -— but, he'd say, we gotta have help from Washington.
  • Your chances of getting support in the black community are poor at best. You have a master-servant philosophy with regard to blacks.
    • Aaron Henry to Eastland relative to his chances of reelection. 1978
    • James O. Eastland
  • One of most important things I discovered was how the 1965 Voting Rights Act became law. The 1964 Civil Rights Acts contained a voting provision, but in Mississippi there weren't 10 (black) people registered. So Lyndon Johnson called Sen. James Eastland to his office. Eastland was the head of Judiciary Committee. Since Johnson had left the Senate, Eastland was the most powerful single person in Congress. Exactly. They didn't just start recording with Nixon. (Laughs.) When LBJ had Eastland in his office, he recorded the conversation. He told Eastland: "I'm gonna give the blacks the vote—though he didn't say "blacks." "You the only one that can give me any trouble. I'm gonna give them the vote. Jim, all you got to do is you take that vote under your wing." And Jim went along with it. They didn't even have a committee for (the 1965 legislation). It went right through. ... Jim Eastland at the time was the most hated white man in Mississippi (by blacks); he eclipsed Bilbo and Vardaman. Two months later, he was the most beloved white man in Mississippi by blacks. The other thing that Lyndon told him was that if you take that "black" vote under your wing, we will not only control Mississippi, we will control the whole South for the next 50 years and most states, every big city in America. It was a plan, and it worked perfectly according to the plan. It's the main reason blacks loved him so much. Of course, that's been happening through-out history. ... Democracy has some good points, but it ain't hardly what most Americans think it is.
  • For a quarter of a century, in the Congress of the United States, we tried to get passed an anti-lynching bill. A simple law to protect the lives of black citizens below the Mason-Dixon line. This was not legislation, as our protesting brethren so often take us to task for—the legislation of brotherly love with they say is impossible. It was a law making it a federal offense to hang a human being from a tree, cover him with kerosene and cremate him. But the loudest cheerleaders of our current law and order rallies—the Eastlands and the Strom Thurmonds—were the very gentlemen who fought against that legislation until it was ultimately passed.
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