Who was Richard Barrett? - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Who was Richard Barrett?

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By Howard Ballou  - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - To say that Richard Barrett's life was filled with controversy would be an understatement.  His knack for showing up in places with racial strife earned him the publicity he sought.  So who was Richard Barrett?

He was a New York City native and Vietnam War veteran who moved to Mississippi in 1966. A lawyer and author, Barrett soon began traveling around the country promoting racist ideology through a white supremacist group called the Nationalist Movement.

Never one to shy away from a camera, hate group experts say Barrett still couldn't muster any real clout in the white power movement.  He was arrested many times and sued but continued his nationalist agenda.

Barrett ran for governor in 1979 and for U.S. Congress in 1984, a loser in both races. He advocated the resettlement of Jews and Mexicans contending that non-whites, especially blacks, were inferior.  

Barrett also launched a movement to support Byron de la Beckwith who was convicted in 1994 for the 1963 assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Barrett's demand that then Governor Kirk Fordice pardon Beckwith, fell on deaf ears.

In 2004, he spearheaded a failed effort to place a booth at the Mississippi State Fair to feature reputed Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen. Killen was eventually convicted of manslaughter in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

In 2008, Barrett claimed his Nationalist Movement had members in 36 states, but he wouldn't say how many members there were.

The white supremacist once described himself as "a man whose name will be written in lightning across the pages of American history."  Now, Richard Barrett's name is written in headlines as a murder victim.

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