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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with William Patrick Murphy, January 17, 1978. Interview B-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Little personal contact with those trying to expel him from Ole Miss

Revealing the strange relationship between the personal and political in post-<cite>Brown</cite> Mississippi, Murphy reveals that he had little to no personal contact with any of the people who were trying to remove him from his position at the University of Mississippi. He did meet Governor Ross Barnett, however, and describes him as not a smart man.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with William Patrick Murphy, January 17, 1978. Interview B-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

If you retired, you wouldn't retire to Memphis or in Mississippi?
Oh, it's possible that when I retire that my wife and I'll go back and live on a little land that is in the family and near Houston, Mississippi. I say it's possible. I wouldn't want to do it, but not because it's in Mississippi; because it's so far away from the kind of cultural opportunities that we enjoy: music and drama and things like that. But it wouldn't be because it was in Mississippi that we wouldn't go back. I've said many times that Mississippians, if you can keep them off the race question and states' rights, they're the salt of the earth.
I think that was what my question was.
Yes, we liked Mississippi. One of the ironies of this whole thing is, these people who were out after me hot and heavy, White and Wilburn Hooker from Lexington County and Bill Simmons, the head of the Citizens Council, and these other people who were leading the campaign to get rid of Bill Murphy, most of those people I never laid an eye on, to my knowledge, and they never laid an eye on me. I never met them, never talked to them face to face, wouldn't have known them if I'd passed them on the street. They were just names. I knew that they were my enemies, they were trying to get rid of me, but we didn't know each other personally at all. And this went on for four years, and I left the state and I never laid an eye on White or Wilburn Hooker or Bill Simmons or any of these people. Now Ross Barnett, of course, I had met, because he was an alumnus of the Law School and I had met him when he'd come back for Alumi Day. But I never met any of these other people.
What did you think about him personally? I read a little biographical sketch of him that was in the New York Times. Maybe they went out of their way to make him seem like a…
I don't know the piece you're talking about, but I think Ross Barnett was not only wrong in his views, but I think he was not a very intelligent person. He's kind of dumb, really. And even some of his best friends didn't claim that he was real smart. There's a real funny story I could tell you about that.