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State of Defiance

Challenging the Johns Committee's Assault on Civil Liberties

Judith Poucher

Publication Year: 2014

The Johns Committee, a product of the red scare in Florida, grabbed headlines and destroyed lives. Its goal was to halt integration by destroying the NAACP in Florida and smearing integrationists. Citizens were subpoenaed under charges of communist tendencies, and later for homosexual or subversive behavior.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

...Courage empowered by conscience often makes heroes of ordinary people; their cumulative efforts also generate groundswells for political change and social progress. In Florida, such a gathering momentum was created by five people who never knew each other: civil rights...

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pp. xv-xvi

...Despite the solitary nature of writing, no one writes a book alone—or without the assistance of librarians and archivists. The staff of the Florida State Archives was very helpful from the beginning of my research. Beth Golding advised me to start my adventure through...

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1. Charley Johns and Virgil Hawkins: Ambition Realized, Dream Deferred

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pp. 1-23

...On May 17, 1954, Charley Johns turned and faced the television cameras. The U.S. Supreme Court had just made history with the Brown decision, eliminating the legal basis for segregated schools. As Florida’s acting governor, Johns called a press...

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2. Virgil Hawkins: Pursuit of the Dream Continues

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pp. 24-40

...Attorney Mark Hawes’ florid complexion became even more red when he was angry or frustrated, sometimes putting him at a disadvantage in the courtroom. Tall and heavyset, he compensated for his complexion by using his physical presence to intimidate...

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3. Ruth Perry: The Librarian Raises Her Voice

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pp. 41-64

...Ruth Perry sat rigidly in the witness box, clenching her fists and facing the television cameras. Her strained expression reflected not only the tension of a possible jail sentence but also the escalating effects of three years of threats against her life, her...

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4. Sig Diettrich: The Geographer Draws the Line

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pp. 65-90

...Sig Diettrich could appreciate the desperation of his position but not its irony: that he—a devout Catholic—on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, 1959, knelt in a church dedicated to the Irish saint and argued with God. In an act of both faith and defiance...

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5. G. G. Mock: Surrounded by Fear, Empowered by Love

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pp. 91-111

...Fear was not a new experience for G. G. Mock. However, she had always been able to defy her fears—until now; for the first time in her life, Mock was “scared of something [she] couldn’t fight.”1 She could not fight a police officer, particularly one who...

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6. Margaret Fisher and Her University of South Florida Colleagues: Intellectuals versus Inquisitors

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pp. 112-141

...Margaret Fisher was not afraid; she was apprehensive. As director of student personnel, she knew that the Johns Committee’s trip in May 1962 to the University of South Florida (USF) “was not a friendly visit.”1 An experienced educator, she was...

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7. Conclusion: Majorities of One

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pp. 142-152

...Johns Committee members trafficked in fear. Skilled in appealing to colleagues’ and constituents’ anxieties about integration, Communism, homosexuality, liberal teaching, and academic freedom, the committee perpetuated Florida’s version...

Appendix: Documents from the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee Records

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pp. 153-156


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pp. 157-192


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pp. 193-204


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pp. 205-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048796
E-ISBN-10: 0813048796
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813049939

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 15 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 879948915
MUSE Marc Record: Download for State of Defiance

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Civil rights -- Florida -- History.
  • Florida. Legislature. Legislative Investigation Committee.
  • Communism -- Florida -- History.
  • Johns, Charley.
  • Homosexuality -- Florida -- History.
  • Culture conflict -- Florida -- History.
  • Gays -- Abuse of -- Florida.
  • Gay rights -- Florida -- History.
  • Florida -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
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