Haley Barbour, the Governor of Mississippi and a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012, has been accused of praising a racist organisation.
When asked about the civil rights era as a whole in his area, he said: "I just don't remember it as being that bad." Mr Barbour told The Weekly Standard that, where he was, the Citizens Council had been a group that protected people against the Ku Klux Klan.
However, historians claim Citizens Councils across the South worked to preserve white racial supremacy and segregation in schools.
Derrick Johnson, Mississippi president of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), said:
Mr Barbour's spokesman said opponents were
Mr Barbour, a highly successful fund-raiser for the Republican Party, gained a national profile during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He was previously a Washington lobbyist for a firm that represented the tobacco industry.