Title: Oral History Interview with Clarke Reed, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0113.
Interviewer: DeVries, Walter
Interviewee: Reed, Clarke
Abstract: In 1966, Clarke Reed, a native Mississippian, became the state chairman of the Republican Party in Mississippi. Reed begins the interview by explaining how he became a Republican despite having been born into family of Democrats. After casting his first vote for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, Reed became increasingly involved with the Republican Party, which he says was well-established in Mississippi by the early 1960s. Reed argues that the South, because of its religious, rural, and economic traditions, was particularly well-suited to the ideas of the Republican Party. In tracing his own allegiance to politicians such as Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, Reed charts not only the growing strength of the Republican Party in the South but also the burgeoning importance of the South to the aims of the Republican Party in national politics. Over the course of the interview, Reed pays particular attention to political realignment during the 1960s and 1970s, as southern Democrats such as Strom Thurmond became Republicans. He also discusses southern Republican views on such issues as voting rights, school busing, and the Equal Rights Amendment, and the role of race and civil rights in shaping southern ideas about politics. Additionally, Reed discusses the transformation of the Republican Party at the local level, offering his thoughts on prominent state politicians—including James Eastland and Gil Carmichael—and factions within the Republican Party resulting from personality, rather than philosophical, differences.