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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

The Clinton/Jackson Witnesses and the Ku Klux Klan



My last post examined East Feliciana Parish and its history of discrimination against black voters. Many of the major players in the Clinton/Jackson stories regarding Lee Harvey Oswald were either members of the KKK or had a close association.


John Rarick



John Rarick was the judge in Clinton, Louisiana and he became a congressman for the Sixth congressional district. But was he KKK?


Jimmie Morrison, Rarick's opponent in the 1966 congressional race, accused Rarick of being in the KKK. He even inserted his claims in the 1966 Congressional Record (Volume 112, part 13, page 16891 - 16893), although he provided no direct evidence in support.


A large part of Morrison's campaign was spent on the allegations and Rarick filed a $500,000 lawsuit for libel: ("White Flight and the Alteration of the Southern Political Narrative: Louisiana's Sixth District Elects a Congressman," 1966, by Keith Finley)

If Morrison offered a scintilla of evidence, Rarick promised to drop his suit. Rarick walked a fine line as he denied being a member of the Klan without criticizing the organization itself. Fortunately for Rarick, Morrison never pushed him into that corner. Instead, the "fighting little judge," as Rarick was sometimes called, continued disavowing his membership as he pilloried his opponent for siding with LBJ, the Congress of Racial Equality, which at the time was actively challenging the system of racial oppression throughout the South, and Martin Luther King Jr., who was synonymous with the cause of equality.


Richard Kilbourne, Jr., the son of the District Attorney of Clinton back in the 1960s, told Patricia Lambert that Rarick, "if not a member of the Klan was at least its 'spiritual leader'"



There were also connections between John Rarick and Jim Garrison. They were classmates at Tulane University. Joan Mellen, author of Jim Garrison: His Life and Times -- The Early Years, wrote that they were political allies in at least one instance: (page 24)


Politics filled the air. Most of the Tulane students were veterans. Jim Garrison was a patriot, and when the American Veterans Committee attempted to enlist the ex-GIs in a protest against President Truman's policy in Greece, Jim joined the opposition along with his classmate John R. Rarick. Whey they broke up the demonstration, according to Rarick, they were called on the carpet by the Dean for violating the first amendment rights of the organizers.



More importantly, John Rarick just might have been in Clinton when the black Cadillac arrived. Stay tuned.


Jack Rogers

Jack Rogers was chief counsel of the Louisiana Un-American Activities Committee (LUAC).

New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 24, 1961


Rogers spoke at an event in Clinton in 1962 at which Judge Rarick presided:

Clinton Watchman, October 12. 1962


The LUAC instructed the police to raid the Southern Conference Education Foundation in 1963: (Race & democracy : the civil rights struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972, Adam Fairclough, page 323)

New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 31, 1964


Jack Rogers served as the attorney for James Pfister.


Why is this all relevant? Jack Rogers was not only involved with segregationist activities, he had also been a domestic contact of the CIA since 1959, and he also worked with Jim Garrison during the assassination investigation.


Future posts will examine Jack Rogers a little more closely.


John Manchester- Clinton Town Marshall

Here is a letter that the FBI sent to the Governor of Louisiana, John McKeithen:





Henry Earl Palmer


The Exalted Cyclops was the top leader of a local Klan.



Reeves Morgan

There is no evidence that Reeves Morgan was a member of the KKK, but here is a document which shows his racism:

He fired a black trucker because the man had participated in voter registration activities.


Here is a campaign ad he ran in the Clinton newspaper when he ran for state representative:

Clinton Watchman, October 2, 1959


Lee McGehee

McGehee, the barber in Jackson, told the HSCA that he had a poster of Martin Luther King at a Communist training school on his wall. This might be the poster:

Here is an excerpt of his testimony before the HSCA:


Mr. McGehee: I'll tell you something else, when this took place, there was a picture of -- on my wall of Martin Luther King at a Communist Training School that a guy brought in and told me to put this up in there. When he came in -- that is what I was referring to a while ago, I said, "This guy is going -- we'll probably get in an argument, you know, about something." And him being a stranger, he's probably in here for the purpose I mentioned a while ago.


Mr. Blackmer: What purpose is that?


Mr. McGehee: That registration. That's what I thought, him being a stranger. So, I faced him to the picture on the wall. Most everybody had commented. He looked at it -- that's before he said anything, you know, about information. He looked at the picture for, oh, a minute. He never commented, but he was working his jaw, you know, like this, both sides.


Mr. Blackmer: Grinding his teeth?


Mr. McGehee: Gritting his teeth, right, and looking at that picture. And it was very -- most everybody would comment on it. He never said a word.


This indicates that McGehee knew that Oswald was not happy with the poster, and that he didn't share McGehee's racist views. And yet we are supposed to believe that McGehee then just gave Oswald directions to the home of Reeves Morgan, the state representative.



Discussion

Palmer and Manchester were members of the KKK, a tightly knit organization known for its secrecy and its conspiratorial beliefs and actions. The others, if not actual members of the KKK, were were bound together by absurd notions of racial solidarity.


The ties between these men were strong.


For instance, Palmer and Morgan had conspired in a scheme about sales of milk to the East Louisiana State Hospital.

Clinton Watchman, June 21, 1963


Joan Mellen wrote that Rarick and Manchester went to the same church. McGehee succeeded Palmer as the registrar of Clinton. McGehee also regularly cut Rarick's hair at his barbershop in Jackson. He told Patricia Lambert that he opened his shop just for Rarick on Saturdays.


These people knew each other and could easily have cooperated in the fabrication of the Clinton story. More importantly, they all knew how to keep a secret.


In our next installment: None of these witnesses came forward in 1963 -1964. Why did they not come forward?



The Series on the Clinton/Jackson Witnesses


Part One: The witnesses testify at the trial of Clay Shaw.


Part Two: A response to the allegations made by the Clinton/Jackson witnesses.


Part Three: A look at racism and the politics of the early 1960s.



Previous Relevant Blog Posts on the Clinton/Jackson Witnesses


Three case studies on how Garrison was less than inquisitive, including the possible check of the Cadillac in Clinton.


Why didn't Garrison check out whether the Trade Mart in New Orleans had leased a Cadillac?


An interview with Weisberg in which he discusses the Clinton witnesses.


Two of the Clinton witnesses claimed they were intimidated. But were they really?


Some background material on Clinton.


William Dunn initially said that Thomas Beckham was with Shaw and Oswald.


Andrew Dunn said Jack Ruby was in Clinton.


None of Garrison's witnesses, including the witnesses from Clinton/Jackson, came forward in 1963 -1964.










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