The Group of Florida Legislators Whose Attack on the NAACP Turned Into a Witch Hunt Against ‘Liberal’ Minorities

In the 1950s, the Johns Committee Spied On and Harassed Anyone They Saw as a Threat to Racial and Sexual Norms

Across America, and particularly in the South, struggles over cultural values have often been rooted in race and sex. Yet some historical moments stand out as stranger than others.

In 1956, Florida’s state legislature established a committee to investigate legal infractions by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, as well as any links that the organization might have to subversive groups. At the time, Florida was just one of several Southern states creating their own sovereignty and education commissions, as well as committees on un-American activities.

The Florida committee, …