After his comments sucked up the oxygen of a slow news day, Barbour himself has decided to respond:
My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.
Past statements aside, I think this particular incident was not about overt racism, but rather his apparent apathy about or unawareness of, as he says today, a difficult and painful era. But as Jim Geraghty points out, it has to be taken in context and is unlikely to be the last Barbour will hear of it.