Charles L. Sullivan

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Charles L. Sullivan (August 20, 1924 – April 18, 1979) was an American politician, attorney and military pilot. He was the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi from 1968 to 1972 serving under Governor John Bell Williams and a General in the United States Air National Guard. An Air National Guard facility in Jackson, Mississippi is named after him.[1]

An attorney from Clarksdale, Mississippi, Sullivan ran in Texas for President of the United States in the 1960 presidential election as the candidate of the Constitution Party.[2] He and Merritt Curtis (who was a Presidential Candidate in other states) received 18,162 votes in Texas, the only state where he was on the ballot, or 0.79% of the Texas popular vote.[3] In 1963, Sullivan ran for Governor of Mississippi and lost to eventual winner, Lt. Gov. Paul B. Johnson, Jr.[2] Like all Mississippi political candidates of the era, Sullivan was a staunch segregationist and modeled his campaign on defending racial segregation in Mississippi as it came under attack by the Federal government (particularly the judiciary) and by mostly local activists involved with the black freedom struggle.

Sullivan finally won statewide political office during a hard-fought campaign during the 1967 elections. His campaign coordinator, 25-year-old Bill Clark, produced an innovative, fast-paced television commercial highlighting his career as a successful attorney, former district attorney, businessman, military and family man. The commercial changed many voter's perception of him and the re-introduction played an important role in his election. As Gov. Paul B. Johnson, Jr., running for his old spot as Lt. Governor, campaigned for law and order, Sullivan and eventual Governor-elect John Bell Williams emphasized their ability to roll back required federal changes to the state's segregation policy as outlined by the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. Despite thousands of blacks newly registered to vote in Mississippi, the two segregationist candidates for the executive office, Williams and Sullivan, claimed overwhelming victories. In the next four years of Sullivan's term, he and Williams attempted to mollify whites' angst in response to the school desegregation orders (often called "immediate integration") as ordered by the Federal judiciary in Alexander v. Holmes. Both Sullivan and Gov. Williams both followed the law, but in the same breath endorsed white flight from the state's public school system for hastily established private academies that U.S. Senator Walter Mondale (D-MN) called "segregation academies."[4] Sullivan unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1978 in a race ultimately won by Republican Thad Cochran.

Sullivan was killed in a plane crash in 1979 at the age of 54.[5][6]


  1. ^ "Charles L. Sullivan ANG Facility, Jackson, MS". 
  2. ^ a b "If You Try & Don't Succeed..." TIME. August 16, 1963. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  3. ^ "Presidential Elections Statistics > 1960 > Popular Votes for Charles Sullivan (% of total) by state". Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  4. ^ David Nevin and Robert E. Bills, The Schools That Fear Built, 1976; Michael W. Fuquay, "Civil Rights and the Private School Movement in Mississippi, 1964-1971," History of Education Quarterly (Summer 2002).
  5. ^ "WHBQ Weekend Newscast 1979". WHBQ. 1979. Retrieved 2007-08-24. 
  6. ^ "2008 and Other Political Years". Retrieved 2006-08-24. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Carroll Gartin
Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
William F. Winter
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