Searching for Subversives in Florida: The Johns Committee

09/19/12 Robert Lorei
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Good morning—welcome to Radioactivity. I’m Rob Lorei.

Coming up we’ll talk about the Johns committee—which for ten years from 1956 to 1965 searched for subversives, homosexuals and communists in Florida’s schools—and weeded them out. The Johns committee was inspired by the anti-communist campaign waged nationally by such people as Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950’s….

But first three listener comments that came in after yesterday’s show. On part of the program we talked about the US conservatives who produced the anti-Muslim film which has sparked protests in the Middle East….

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In 1956, Florida State Senator Charley Johns was appointed the chairman of the newly formed Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, now remembered as the Johns Committee. This group was charged with the task of unearthing communists, homosexuals, and anything they saw as subversive behavior in academic institutions throughout Florida. With the cooperation of law enforcement, the committee interrogated and spied on countless individuals, including civil rights activists, college students, public school teachers, and university faculty and administrators.

By 1963 the search for subversives in Florida resulted in the firings of 39 professors, the revocation of 71 public school teaching licenses, and the expulsion of dozens of students from Florida’s public universities. Stacy Braukman has written a new book about the era—called COMMUNISTS AND PERVERTS UNDER THE PALMS…..The Johns Committee in Florida 1956-1965….She’ll be speaking tomorrow at USF in Tampa at 7PM in room 206 of the Military Science Building.

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