Like most every one else I must applaud the high school’s Citizens’ Council for its efforts in addressing the problem of adolescent substance abuse. But for those of us of a certain age “Citizens Council” is freighted with a much different meaning than a parent group.                

Back in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement the Citizens’ Council was an  American white supremacist organization with chapters throughout the South. Founded in 1954 Citizens Councils met openly and used mainly economic reprisal against black civil rights leaders to discourage desegregation efforts. There were sometimes known as “an uptown Klan.” Lester Maddox who became a champion of desegregation was a founder of the organization. As the Civil Rights Movement gained traction the power of Citizen’s Councils wanned.                   

Like “Negro”, “sexual preference” and”retarded” the political meaning of words changes over time. It’s probably a good thing that most of us no longer remember that a long time ago Citizens’ Council meant something very different than it does today.

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John Hubbuch

John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday...