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Chairman Charley Johns speaks at a podium with people sitting beside tables behind and in front of him. | From "The Committee"

The Committee

The Committee

"The Committee" chronicles the actions of the little-known Florida Legislative Investigation Committee (also known as the Johns Committee) that existed between 1956-1965. The committee was formed in 1956 in response to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision and amidst wide-spread anti-Communist fears in the country. Its initial targets were civil rights activists and members of the NAACP who were pushing for desegregation in Florida. In 1961, Florida Senator and Committee Chairman Charley Johns shifted the focus from civil rights activists to Communist sympathizers and homosexual teachers and students at state universities. During its existence, the Committee was successful in firing or expelling more than 200 suspected gay and lesbian students and teachers throughout Florida. Through archival footage and photos, and interviews with former students Rev. Ruth Jensen-Forbell and Chuck Woods, and retired police officer John Tileston, Jr., the half-hour documentary highlights the scare tactics used by the Johns Committee in its attempt to root out homosexuality and Communism on state campuses. In the documentary, Chuck Woods-who had been interrogated by John Tileston, Jr. as a student at the time-reunites with him publicly for the first time in 50 years to discuss what happened during that dark period in the state's history.

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