During the Civil Rights Era of the 1950s-1960s, a number of southern states established governmental committees to investigate the activities of civil rights and communist organizations that were deemed subversive. In 1956, the Florida legislature established a special joint committee known as the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee. The committee, popularly known as the Johns Committee because former Governor Charley Eugene Johns served as its first chairman, was established to "investigate all organizations whose principles or activities include a course of conduct on the part of any person or group which could constitute violence, or a violation of the laws of the state, or would be inimical to the well being and orderly pursuit of their personal and business activities by the majority of the citizens of this state."
Over the next ten years the committee investigated civil rights organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP, and white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. They also explored the activities of pro and anti Castro organizations. The committee's mandate was expanded in 1961 to include the investigation of homosexuals and the "extent of [their] infiltration into agencies supported by state funds." The committee was particularly concerned with reports of homosexual activity on Florida's college and university campuses. Always controversial, the committee was eventually disbanded in 1966.
Following the disbanding of the Johns Committee, its records were kept in the legal custody of the Florida Legislature and were closed to research. As a result of the efforts of a number of Florida historians and historical organizations, the records were opened for limited research in the early 1990s. While the original records were kept in the custody of the State Legislature, a duplicate, photocopied set was transferred to the Florida State Archives and opened for public research. Chapter 93-405 of the Laws of Florida, however, prohibited the disclosure of the name of "any witness, any person who was the subject of the inquiry, or any person referred to in testimony, documents, or evidence retained in the committee's records," except for committee members and staff, or other public officials "not a subject of the inquiry." Consequently the names of all such individuals have been redacted from the copy in the possession of the Florida State Archives.
Reproduced here are the reports of a Johns Committee investigator who attended a Southern Christian Leadership Conference meeting and a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1964.