Legislative Investigation Committee
On the heels of the Montgomery and Tallahassee bus boycotts,
the Florida state senate in 1956-- under the leadership of former
acting Governor and now Senator Charley Johns -- appointed a
seven-person special joint committee to "investigate all
organizations whose principles or activities include a course of
conduct on the part of any person or group which would constitute
violence, or a violation of the laws of the state...."
Within a year, Johns had steered the committee to civil
rights organizations and activists, communists and socialists,
and antinuclear and peace groups. Initially, the NAACP -- deemed
a "communist front organization -- was the principal target.
However, following a legal challenge, the Committee -- empowered
to subpoena witnesses, take sworn testimony, and employ
"expert assistance," including informants -- turned its
attention to the homosexual.
For the next eight years, the Committee and its investigative
staff, terrorized Florida's closeted homosexual communities. It
primarily focused on teachers -- both in colleges and in the
public schools. By 1963 Johns took credit for the dismissal of 39
professors and deans and the revocation of 71 teaching
It was only after the issuance of its 1964 report,
"Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida," -- known as
the "purple pamphlet" because of its cover -- that the
Committee was disbanded following an outcry of "state
The story of the Johns Committee and its impact of gay and
lesbian teachers and educators, such as Arlen Davies and Sue
Sponnoble, is detailed in Lonely Hunters. Below are stories and
photographs that do not appear in this book.