MISSISSIPPI: The Public Is Everyone

Down in the fine print of almost all appropriation bills Congress customarily stipulates that anything built with public funds shall be "for public use." In 1951 Mississippi unquestioningly accepted that familiar provision along with $1,133,000 in federal funds to repair the hurricane-torn sea wall along the Gulf Coast beach stretching some 24 miles westward from Biloxi. So far as segregationist Mississippi was concerned, the "public" that could use the beach was white only.

That long-standing Deep South definition was challenged last week by the Justice Department in a suit filed against the city of Biloxi. In a brand-new kind of...

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