The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was a state agency created “to monitor and disrupt civil rights activities.” (American Radio Works) The Commission’s stated objective was to “do and perform any and all acts deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi, and her sister states . . ." from perceived “encroachment thereon by the Federal Government or any branch, department or agency thereof.”
The Sovereignty Commission was a “spy agency and propaganda machine.” (American Radio Works) The aim of investigations was to hinder civil rights progress and discredit activists. Hard evidence of "racial agitation" was not necessary to warrant their attention. The rumor mill and the race-baiters fed the Commission, and anyone who appeared to transgress the racial lines or who espoused a vaguely liberal perspective might be brought to their attention. Common targets of investigations included African-American applicants for notary public, owners of cars parked outside alleged civil rights meetings, individuals earmarked as "race agitators" as well as their families, and the babies of reported inter-racial relationships. Invariably the information gathered was intimate and slanderous in nature and often based on little more than local gossip and hearsay.