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Hugh L. White
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Hugh L. White

Hugh Lawson White (August 19, 1881 - September 20, 1965) was a Mississippi Democrat who served two non-consecutive terms as governor (1936-1940, 1952-1956). White was a wealthy industralist and had been mayor of Columbia when he was first elected to the governorship. In 1936 he established the Balance Agriculture With Industry (BAWI) program that sought to develop an industrial base that matched the state's agricultural base. Under BAWI, advertising and incentives were deployed in hopes of enticing industries to locate to the state. Local goverments could issue bonds to construct factories that could be leased to companies (who were also offered tax breaks).

After leaving office due to term limits, White was a delegate representing Mississippi at the 1948 Democratic National Convention.

In 1951, White won a second term, during which the issue of school segregation was a main issue. During the 1940s and early 1950s, federal courts made a series of decisions that indicated that the notion of "separate-but-equal" schools would soon be declared unconstitutional. Governor White and the state legislature prepared for that possibility by creating plans that sought to improve black schools. Among the proposals were increasing black teacher salaries to match white teachers' and build black schools on par with white schools. White called together one hundred of the state's black leaders to the capital to ask for their support of the plan. Much to his surprise, they overwhelmingly rejected his "voluntary" segregation plan and instead stated that they wanted only an integrated school system. The US Supreme Court, in 1954, made the famous Brown v. Board of Education decision that did declare the practice of "separate-but-equal" to be unconstitutional.