Murders Around Mississippi
Newest information on Mississippi murders involving African Americans and/or Mississippi politicians and leaders. SYNDICATE SUSAN'S ARTICLES
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Thursday, June 30, 2005
Gravesite along the country road
A decorated grave along the side of New Africa Road between Clarksdale and Parchman, Mississippi. The road is named after a settlement in the Mississippi Delta. An earlier community nearby called Africa was located in the Great Swamp and was home to runaway enslaved Africans who were aided by the Choctaw Indians.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
The body of Mack Charles Parker is taken from the Pearl River. Photo from the Erle Johnston Papers, McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi.
The best history comes from first-hand, truthful accounts. In Mississippi, this is so important because so many people have been senselessly killed – too many of them already forgotten. Twenty-three-year-old Mack Charles Parker, a black truck driver from Lumberton, was accused of raping a white woman (his long time girlfriend). Witnesses had seen the couple together in the past, but on April 25, 1959, Parker was taken and dragged by a lynch mob from the jail in the rural logging town of Poplarville and shot to death on a river bridge north of Bogalusa, Louisiana three days before his scheduled trial date.
Here is a personal account given by Willie L. Robinson:
One of the very few times I remember disobeying my mother was on the night of April 24, 1959. It was a Friday night. I was a fifteen year old ninth grader at George Washington Carver High School in Picayune, Mississippi at the time. It was prom night at Carver High, and I had cleaned up the blue suit that I had bought the year before for less than $15.00 at the Boston Clothing Store to wear for my eighth grade graduation, and I went to the prom. I had neither an invitation nor a date. To be honest, I don't know why or how I was there, but no one asked me to leave; and to the best of my memory, I had a good time.
Prom activities in the school gymnasium ended around midnight or 1:00 A. M., as I recall. I could have easily walked across Rosa Street to B-1 Weems Housing Projects and done as my mother had told me to do, "...get home time that thing is over!", or something like that. In stead, I got into a car with a bunch of adults and ended up about forty miles away on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in a night club. I don't remember who my adult running buddies were that night now, but they did not seem to be concerned contributing to the misbehavior of a minor.Willie's story
* * *
Believed to be in the lynch mob were a former deputy, a Baptist preacher, and the jailer. The local prosecutor refused to press charges and no one was ever indicted. Although Parker's abductors were well known and some admitted their complicity to FBI agents, the judge in the case, Sebe Dale – a white supremacist and member of the White Citizens' Council – encouraged the grand jury to return no indictments against the killers.
An FBI investigation took place only because “moderate” Governor J. P. Coleman called for it, after Parker’s body washed ashore several weeks later.
to take a look at the FBI files (Freedom of Information Act, 370 pages).
Monday, June 27, 2005
: "Will Miss. prosecute others? Appears not, unless...
Ben Greenberg at HungryBlues
as posted the following from The Arkansas Delta Peace And Justice Center:
Will Mississippi prosecute others? It does not look encouraging, especially given the statement that they intend to release all evidence they have. Please see statements in bold type in article. But we can continue to push as we have in the past to obtain as much as possible of a full measure of truth and justice.
(Also note Duncan's quote at the end of the article: Neshoba Countians will no longer be painted and described around the world by a hollywood movie.Is that what this was all about for some? Also please note Jared Storey's insightful comments in response to the article at the end of this message.")Continue...
Saturday, June 25, 2005
"Nineteen fifty-six was Edward Duckworth, shot to death by a white man who claimed self-defense. It was Milton Russell burned to death in his home in Bloody Belzoni, no one arrested.
"Nineteen fifty-seven was Charles Brown, shot to death by a white man near Yazoo City. Nineteen fifty-eight was George Love, killed by a twenty-five man posse. No arrests.
"It was Woodrow Wilson Daniels, who died of a brain injury nine days after a beating by a white sheriff; the sheriff tried and acquitted of manslaughter.
"Nineteen fifty-nine was Jonas Causey, killed in Clarksdale, with fifteen policemen accused of the crime. No arrests.
"It was William Roy Prather, fifteen years old, killed in what whites called a ‘Halloween prank.’" (Myrlie Evers, with William Peters, “For Us, The Living,” (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi), 24-25.)
There were so many others senselessly killed around Mississippi – most already forgotten. Twenty-three-year-old Mack Charles Parker, a black truck driver from Lumberton, was accused of raping a white woman (his long time girlfriend). Witnesses had seen the couple together in the past, but on April 25, 1959, Parker was taken and dragged by a lynch mob from the jail in the rural logging town of Poplarville and shot to death on a river bridge north of Bogalusa, Louisiana three days before his scheduled trial date.
Believed to be in the lynch mob were a former deputy, a Baptist preacher, and the jailer. The local prosecutor refused to press charges and no one was ever indicted. An FBI investigation took place only because “moderate” Governor J. P. Coleman called for it, after Parker’s body washed ashore several weeks later.
An excerpt from "Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited"
Publish Date: June 28
Even being mistaken for a civil rights activist could get a person killed. On April 9, 1962 in Taylorsville, Cpl. Roman Ducksworth, a military police officer stationed in Maryland, was on leave to visit his sick wife when he was ordered off a bus in by a police officer and shot dead. The police officer may have mistaken Ducksworth for a "freedom rider" who was testing bus desegregation laws.
Excerpt from "Where Rebels Roost
, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited"
M. Susan Orr-Klopfer, with Fred Klopfer, Ph.D., and Barry Klopfer, Esq.
BY MID 1961, the Civil Rights Movement was reaching Mississippi with the arrival of Freedom Rides. As these volunteers moved through the South, challenging segregated bus seating, restaurants, and restrooms in the cities, another murder occurred outside of the Delta in the small town of Liberty.
The Murders of Herbert Lee and Lewis Allen
Farmer Herbert Lee, 52, was shot and killed by E.H. Hurst, a white member of the Mississippi Legislature, on September 25, 1961 in Liberty. Lee was a father of nine children. Hurst was never charged with the crime, and black witnesses were pressured by the sheriff and others to testify that Lee tried to hit Hurst with a tire tool. They testified as ordered and Hurst was acquitted in an Amite County trial held in a room full of armed white man, the same day as the killing. Hurst never spent a night in jail.
One day before Lee’s murder, Bob Moses had invited John Doar of the U. S. Department of Justice to McComb to hear directly from blacks involved in the McComb movement, including E. W. Steptoe, the region’s NAACP leader, who never left his house unarmed. Steptoe told Doar “Every Negro in Amite County wants to register to vote, but they’re just afraid…. If Negroes voted, we wouldn’t have any trouble.”
As organizer of the first local NAACP chapter after reading about Brown, Steptoe said that armed whites, led by a deputy sheriff, broke up the group’s third meeting. His uncle had been so frightened that he ran into the woods and stayed there for a week, living on raw food. When Steptoe’s uncle reappeared, he left the county.
Doar asked Steptoe which white men provoked fear, and Steptoe pointed out his neighbor across the road, Representative Hurst. They had known each other since childhood, but Hurst recently threatened him and several other active NAACP chapter members, including Herbert Lee.
The following morning, Lee drove a truckload of cotton to the Liberty gin, with Hurst following behind in his truck. Hurst parked his truck, rushed to the cab of Lee’s truck, and began arguing with Lee, witnesses said.
Hurst drew his gun and thrust it in Lee’s face, shouting, “I’m not fooling around this time! I really mean business!” Lee reportedly told Hurst he would talk to him, if he put the gun down. When Hurst lowered the gun, Lee slid into the passenger seat. Then Hurst, cursing, ran to the front of the truck as Lee tried to get out and shot Lee in the head.
Nobody in Liberty would touch [Lee’s] body. For the rest of the morning the dead man’s body lay sprawled in the dirt where it had fallen. Finally, around noon, somebody convinced a black undertaker in nearby McComb to send a hearse out to the Liberty gin.
A coroner’s inquest took place that afternoon where Representative Hurst testified that Lee owed him money and that when he had asked about it, Lee had “come at him with a tire iron.” Lee, he said, “had an ungovernable temper.”
Hurst further claimed he had walked around the front of the truck to meet the Negro. “I didn’t run,” he said. “I got no rabbit in me.” Hurst explained the .38 he was holding in his other hand had at that moment “accidentally” discharged. “I must have pulled the trigger unconsciously,” Hurst swore.
While the murder was ruled a “justifiable homicide,” Doar later observed that Hurst “might have been eager to pick a fight with Lee because Lee had observed Hurst skulking around the parking lot outside a voter registration meeting, jotting down license numbers.” Hurst could not have been too upset over the incident, since Mississippi politicians’ reputations were often enhanced if they were known to have killed a black man in “self defense.”
The night of the murder, Moses returned to Amite County and questioned three black eyewitnesses who testified at the inquest. Two admitted that Sheriff Caston and his deputies coerced them into lying about the tire iron. Lee, only 5 feet, 4 inches, weighed about 150 pounds and had not lifted an arm in self-defense against Hurst, 6-2 and 200 pounds.
“Your sense of isolation was complete,” Moses would later recall. “It was very clear you were absolutely on your own when there was not even the possibility of a federal investigation.”
No charges were ever brought against Hurst. One witness to the Lee murder, Lewis Allen, later admitted he lied to protect himself and his family, but he was killed – riddled with buckshot, in his driveway three years later, after reporting that he had been harassed by local police officials several times since the Lee killing.
Local authorities said they had “no clues” in the Allen killing. Allen had been a Freedom Rider and was involved in the civil rights movement. On the day he was killed, April 7, 1964, in Liberty, he was making final arrangements to move north.
Susan Orr-Klopfer copyright 2005
All rights reserved, including electronic rightsWHERE REBELS ROOST
Friday, June 24, 2005
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
"So much of the history of the struggle between good and evil can be explained by Edmund Burke's observation. Time and again those who profess to be good seem to clearly outnumber those who are evil, yet those who are evil seem to prevail far too often. Seldom is it the numbers that determine the outcome, but whether those who claim to be good men are willing to stand up and fight for what they know to be right."Continued ...
An often-used structure for lynchings in Lambert, Mississippi according to lore.
After the murder of Emmett Till state officials began collecting "murder statistics" from every county sheriff.Bryant and Milam
were reported by Tallahatchie County as the murderers of Emmett Till (even thought they were acquitted and the murder took place in Sunflower County). Clinton Melton's murder was treated in the same way.
* * *
"In a wrapup report, Ney M. Gore, Jr., Sovereignty Commission director, sent a Western Union telegram to Governor-elect J. P. Coleman that claimed 235 homicides took place in Mississippi during 1955
“... of which 159 were negroes killed by negroes, 4 were negroes killed by whites, 2 were whites killed by negroes, 36 were whites killed by whites, 6 were negroes killed by officers, 2 were whites killed by officers, 4 were whites put to death by legal institution, 4 were negroes put to death by legal institution, 1 was Indian killed by Indian, 1 was white killed by train.
".... There was 1 white suicide and 1 negro suicide, 5 white homicides are unsolved, 3 negro homicides are unsolved, 6 are still being investigated.
"Coleman, still serving as Attorney General, asked Dr. R. H. Whitfield of Mississippi’s Bureau of Vital Statistics to provide the homicide data, as well, noting at the end of his letter: 'In light of recent unfortunate developments in our State, I think this information may turn out to be of the most important value.'
"The new governor reached back into the days before the Civil War to end his letter on this note: 'A lot of people do not know that a negro was the first person killed by John Brown when he made his raid on Harper’s Ferry, and the South has been the victim of distorted publicity ever since.'”
Excerpt from "Where Rebels Roost"
M. Susan Klopfer copyright 2005
Available June 28, http://themiddleoftheinternet.com/bookorder.html
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Site of Clinton Melton murder, Glendora, where the service station once stood.
Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Melton, 1955
In the small cotton town of Glendora, Mississippi a black service station attendant and father of four children was killed in December 9f 1955 by a friend of J. W. Milam (one of two murderers of Emmett Till). Elmer Kimball murdered Clinton Melton and then nineteen days later, Melton’s young wife was killed, only a week before Kimball’s murder trial opened.
Clinton Melton was murdered four miles from where Emmett Till’s body was dumped into the Tallahatchie River earlier in August. Kimball had lived in Glendora for a short time, managing a local cotton gin, and had an account at the gas station where Melton worked.
The murderer of Clinton Melton was tried and acquitted by an all-white jury. Mrs. Melton was driven off the road and into a bayou, where she drowned a week before the trial. She had been gathering information on her husband's murder. The two children in her car survived.
A Record from the Sovereignty Commission files
Kidnap/murder of a 16-year-old white girl residing in Walthall County by four white men. The girl was taken from her bedroom, carried into a swamp and raped. One man white confessed, but he was acquitted by an all-white jury in a trial in Magnolia. No date given. Reported by Rev. Turner in a letter to the Mississippi Lieutenant Governor. The letter was ignored.The Letter
Betty Butler, No Date
Betty Butler was “killed a few steps north of the overhead bridge,” McComb, “by a sixteen-year-old white boy because she resisted his sex advances.” No date given. Reported by Rev. Hollis N. Turner, McComb, letter dated August 23, 1957.
Information given in an eight-page letter sent by Rev.Turner to the Lieutenant Governor. It was ignored. This is a Sovereignty Commission file and contains information on other murders, as well.The Letter
Woodrow Wilson Daniels, Water Valley, beaten to death by Yalobush County Sheriff, J. G. Traelor, June of 1958.
Click here to see a newspaper accountMurderer is freed
List of lynched black people in the Delta collected by
Joyce Russer of Bolivar County.
James Edward Calhoun, Cleveland, MS, September 8, 1976, Sunflower County
William Ody, Clayton, July 15, 1902
George Kincaid, Cleveland, June 12, 1903
Fayette Sawyer, Cleveland, March 19, 1904
Burke Harris, Cleveland, March 19, 1904
John Hollins, Drew, January 10, 1903
Willie Webb, Drew, February 23, 1913
Green Jackson, Greenville, February 6, 1891
Burke Martin, Greenville, March 2, 1890
Robert Dennis, Greenville, June 4, 1903
William Robinson, Greenville, August 17, 1909
Peter Henderson, Itta Bena, January 20, 1897
Doc Davis, Jackson, July 19, 1892
Theodore Pickett, Jackson, July 6, 1895
John Gray, Jackson, September 18, 1923
N/A Wimberly, Jackson, June 20, 1921
D. Moore, Jackson, February 7, 1957
Two unidentified blacks, Clarksdale, October 11, 1915
Lindsay Coleman, Clarksdale, December 19, 1925
Charles E. Moore, Jackson, May 2, 1964
Henry Dee, Jackson, May 2, 1964
Henry Askey, Mississippi City, June 9, 1900
Ed Russ, Mississippi City, June 9, 1900
Claude Singleton, Poplarville, April 20, 1918
I. Civil rights slayings in Mississippi
The names of some people killed in Mississippi and listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Civil Rights Memorial. (Many names are missing.)
• The Rev. George Lee, Belzoni, May 7, 1955.
• Lamar Smith, Brookhaven, August 13, 1955.
• Emmett Louis Till, Money, August 28, 1955.
• Mack Charles Parker, Poplarville, April 25, 1959.
• Herbert Lee, Liberty, September 25, 1961, Liberty.
• Cpl. Roman Ducksworth Jr., April 9, 1962, Taylorsville.
• Paul Guihard, Oxford, September 30, 1962.
• Medgar Evers, Jackson, June 12, 1963.
• Louis Allen, Liberty, April 7, 1964, Liberty.
• Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, Meadville, May 2, 1964.
• James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, Philadelphia, June 21, 1964.
• Vernon Dahmer, Hattiesburg, January 10, 1966.
• Ben Chester White, Natchez, June 10, 1966.
• Warlest Jackson, Natchez, February 27, 1967.
• Benjamin Brown, Jackson, May 12, 1967.
Others killed in Mississippi suspected by SPLC as victims of racially motivated murders, from 1954 to 1968.
• Eli Brumfield, McComb, October 31, 1961.
• Woodrow Wilson Daniels, Water Valley, July 1, 1958.
• William Roy Prather, Corinth, November 1, 1959.
• Jonas Causey, Clarksdale, May 10, 1959.
• George Love, Ruleville, January 8, 1958.
• Charles Brown, Yazoo City, June 25, 1957.
• Milton Russell, Belzoni, January 21, 1956.
• Edward Duckworth, Raleigh, January 1956.
• James E. Evanston, near Drew, December 24, 1955.
• Izell (or Izeal) Henry, beaten on July 28, 1954, Glendora. Died in 1958 or 1959.
• Clinton Melton, Glendora, December 3, 1955.
• Willie Joel Lovett, Tchula, June 30, 1963.
• Unidentified black woman and two unidentified black men, Woodville, February 1964.
• Johnny Queen, Fayette, August 8, 1965.
• Ollie W. Shelby, Jackson, January 22, 1965.
• Romie Harris, Tupelo, December 30, 1963.
• Unidentified black man, in Big Black River in Goodman, September 11, 1963.
• Freddie Lee Thomas Jr., Greenwood, September 3, 1965 or August 20, 1965.
• Julius Y. Jones, Laurel, September 4, 1965.
• Jimmy Lee Griffin, Sturgis, September 27, 1965.
• Robert Joseph McNair, Pelahatchie, November 6, 1965.
• Lillie Dell Power, Starkville, November 27, 1965.
• Eli Brumfield, McComb, October 13, 1961.
• Sylvester Maxwell, Canton, January 17, 1963.
• Herbert Oarsby or Hubert Orsby in the Big Black River near Pickens, September 9, 1964.
• Unidentified black woman near the Columbus Air Force Base, August 29, 1963.
• Unidentified black man shot to death in car, Natchez, March 1964.
• Ernest Jells, 21, Clarksdale, September 23, 1963.
• Ollie B. Shelby, 18, Hinds County, January 1965.
• John Lee, 31, Goshen Springs, February 1965.
• Donald Rasbery, 19, Okolona, February 1965.
• Willie Henry Lee, 21, Goshen Springs, February 25, 1965.
• Jessie Brown, Winona, January 13, 1965.
• Saleam K. Triggs, Forest, January 25, 1965.
• Curtie Watts, Forest, January 25, 1965.
• Robert McNair, Pelahatchie, November 6, 1965.
Rev. George Washington Lee
On May 7, 1955, Reverend George Washington Lee, the first black to register to vote in Humphreys County since Reconstruction, was shot to death on a neighborhood street while driving his car. Several witnesses saw a car drive by with white men inside, but the local sheriff ruled Rev. Lee had gotten in a fight with a woman and lost control of his car. The lead pellets found in his jaw tissues were “dental fillings, mysteriously dislodged in the accident.”
Lee and the second of the Belzoni Citizen Council’s prime targets, Gus Courts, both lived and ran small grocery businesses in Belzoni. Lee often used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered him protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was killed.
Courts, head of the town’s new NAACP Chapter, was ordered by his banker to turn over all NAACP books. He refused and was warned to leave town. Earlier Courts was shown a list of ninety-five blacks registered in Humphreys County; a Citizens Council member instructed Courts that anyone not removing their name from the voting list would lose their jobs.
Both Courts and Reverend Lee were good friends and staunch members of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. Each had worked for years to pay poll taxes so they could vote and were finally allowed to sign the register after the county sheriff feared federal prosecution. (Actually casting a ballot required a separate battle.)
On the day Rev. Lee was killed, almost a year after Brown, Courts had visited Reverend Lee’s store to talk about his business. Rev. Lee said he was about to lose his store because of Citizens Council pressure. The minister had received an earlier anonymous death threat demanding he remove his name from the voting list and as Courts left, Lee told his friend that he had a funny feeling, even though such threats by Council members were not uncommon.
That night as Reverend Lee drove his car along Belzoni’s Church Street, returning from a Regional Council meeting at Mound Bayou, “two gun blasts shattered the night stillness, and the Buick sedan swerved over the curb and rammed into a frame house. With the lower left side of his face gone, Rev. Lee staggered from the wreckage; he died during transportation to the Humphreys County Memorial Hospital.”
As it turned out, the FBI did investigate the Lee murder and records show the agency built a circumstantial murder case against two men, but a local prosecutor refused to take the case to a grand jury. Peck Ray and Joe David Watson Sr., the suspects, were members of the Citizens Council. Both died in the 1970s.
Interviewed by Newsday years later in 2000, Ernest White, a close friend of Lee's, said that he always suspected that Ray, a local handyman, and Watson, a gravel hauler, were involved in Lee's murder. "We suspected them because of their reputation," White told reporter Stephanie Saul. Before Lee's murder, Watson had been arrested, but not convicted, for randomly shooting into a black sharecropper's home.
Some of Lee’s friends believed the murder was part of a larger conspiracy involving influential members of the community who wanted to silence Lee, who was encouraging blacks to register to vote. "The big wheels paid them off," said White, who became a city councilman years after Lee's death.
M. Susan Klopfer copyright 2005
Excerpt from "Where Rebels Roost,Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited."
Availability Date June 28, 2005
Booker T. Mixon, was lynched in October of 1959. He died in Coahoma county hospital in Clarksdale after remaining in a coma from Oct. 12 until Oct. 23.
A 35-year-old Korean veteran, Mixon was found in a ditch outside of the small town of Marks by a Sheriff’s deputy; Mixon was nude and suffering from abrasions, cuts and contusions. He was reported as a hit and run victim but “Persons who viewed Mixon’s body report that it looked like it had been dragged from a car since most of the flesh on his abdomen and back had been savagely torn from his body.”
Mississippi authorities would not grant permission for an autopsy upon Mixon’s death, but the attending physician noted brain injuries and head fractures that would come if dragged by a car, “perhaps, over some grass.”
Mrs. Mixon and his uncle, James, hired an attorney to demand the governor call for an investigation. Mixon had been working in the small town of Crenshaw and had been on the job driving a truck for only three days before the injuries that led to his death.Click here
to read the newspaper article.
Medgar Evers, June 12, 1963
In the early morning hours of June 12, 1963, a courageous civil rights leader lay bleeding to death in the driveway to his home. A Ku Klux Klansman had shot Medgar Evers as he arrived home at 12:20 a.m. after a long night at work.
Evers had left his car and started for the door. His wife and children jumped up to meet him, as the sniper, crouching 150 feet away in a honeysuckle thicket, fired one shot from his Enfield .30’06 high velocity rifle, then dropped the weapon into a patch of weeds and ran away.
Evers was hit in his back, just below his shoulder blade; the bullet tore out the front of his chest and rippled on through the living room “to spend itself against the kitchen refrigerator.” He tried to stagger to his feet and work his way toward the kitchen door, but collapsed instead. His wife ran out to him, held his head in her arms and cried.
His friends placed Evers on a mattress and rushed him by car to the University Hospital, open to whites only. Evers was at first refused admission. When hospital officials realized who he was, they broke the hospital's color barrier for the first time in its history. “Turn me loose!” These were the last words of Medgar Evers; the kind and patient man beloved by many was pronounced dead one hour later.
Eventually, after two attempts, Byron de la Beckwith was convicted of the crime and died in prison. But the whispers have always been that other members of the Klan were involved in the planning. The prosecutor, who was given this tip, chose not to use this information.
Young Emmett Till was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi when he was kidnapped, taken to a barn in Sunflower County, tortured and lynched. His body was dumped into the Mississippi River. No one was ever convicted.
Young Emmett Till
After two days of exposure, the internal tissue of a lifeless body begins to decay, turning into gases and liquids. If exposed to water the process of decomposition occurs approximately four times faster.
So when they pulled the lifeless body of a young black teenager from the Tallahatchie River during the August heat back in 1955, only an initialed silver ring on his finger made identification possible.
Emmett Till had been stripped naked, pistol-whipped, shot through the head with a .45-caliber Colt automatic and barb-wired to a seventy-four-pound cotton gin fan before he was dumped into twenty feet of the muddy Tallahatchie River. Neither the killing nor the murder site generated much surprise. “That river’s loaded with niggers,” one old white man quipped to reporters.
Fourteen-year-old Till, once physically afflicted by polio, was kidnapped shortly after midnight on the twenty-fourth of August from his uncle’s home in the small cotton town of Money, Mississippi, “a dusty crossroads settlement too obscure to merit a turn-off sign on the main highway.” He was driven away to a weathered plantation shed in neighboring Sunflower County, where at least two white men tortured and mutilated him. A witness heard his screams for hours until the two men finally put an end to Till’s short life.
What the young boy said to a white woman clerking at the small family grocery in Money will never be known. But Emmett Till’s death became a civil rights milestone, setting off a chain reaction that would forever change the way we think and talk about race in this country.
(Excerpt from "Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited
A young Cleve McDowell, first black to enter the Ole Miss (James Eastland) School of Law in 1963. The Justice Department refused any protection for him and within a few weeks, he was expelled, anyway. Students had been chasing him home welding guns. McDowell finished law school in Texas, fought and won to practice in Mississippi. He was shot and killed in his home in 1997. The District Attorneys office that covers Sunflower County still refuses to open his records to the public, after a judge issued a gag order 20 minutes after his body was discovered. Way too many questions surround this event. The fact that McDowell was gay has been used to put up a smokescreen around his death.
March 14, 1997: Civil Rights Attorney Found Dead
DREW, Miss. (AP) - A civil rights attorney who was the second black to attend the University of Mississippi was found shot to death at his home, and a judge immediately slapped a gag order on investigators.
Cleve McDowell, 56, was found dead in an upstairs bathroom early Thursday after relatives called police to say the door to his apartment was open and his car missing. Police continued to look for McDowell's Cadillac on Friday.
McDowell had been a public defender in Sunflower County for three decades. He was part of a group of black leaders organizing to pressure district attorneys and revive interest in many never-prosecuted cases in which blacks were killed for doing civil rights work. During the 1980s, McDowell was the executive field director of the Mississippi chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
His story and many others are included in "Where Rebels Roost" Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited. Publication Date June 28.
Birdia Keglar, lynched Jan. 12, 1966, when coming home from meeting with Sen. Robert Kennedy in Jackson. She was the first black to vote in Tallahatchie County after Reconstruction ended. She started the county's first NAACP. Birdia's son, James, tried to get the FBI and Justice Department to find out what happened to his mother. Within three months, he was dead, too.
"It's a good start but not a finish." Steve Schwerner, brother of Michael
Horace Doyle Barnett's Nov. 20, 1964, confession to the FBI
From FBI documents
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
The following is a signed statement which was furnished by HORACE DOYLE BARNETTE on November 20, 1964:
Nov. 20, 1964
"I, Horace Doyle Barnette, do hereby make this free and voluntary statement to Special Agent Henry Rask and Special Agent James A. Wooten, who have identified themselves to me to be special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agent Henry Rask have informed me that I do not have to make a statement, that any statement made by me can be used against me in a court of law and that I am entitled to consult with an attorney before making this statement and that if I can not afford an attorney and I am required to appear in court, the court will appoint one for me. That no force, threats or promises were made to induce me to make this statement. I presently reside at Cullen, La. I am 26 years old and was born on September 11, 1938, at Plain Dealing, La.
"On June 21, 1964 about 8:00 P.M., I was having supper at Jimmy Arledge's house, Meridian, Mississippi. Travis Barnette called Arledge on the telephone and told Arledge that the Klan had a job and wanted to know if Arledge and I could go. Arledge asked me if I could go and we went to Akins trailer park on Highway 80 in Meridian, Miss. We did not know what the job was.
"Upon arriving at Akins trailer park we were met by Preacher Killen, Mr. Akins, Jim Jordan and Wayne. I do not know Wayne's last name, but I do know his brother is a police officer in Meridian, Miss. Killen told us that three civil rights workers were in jail in Philadelphia, Miss., and that these three civil rights workers were going to be released from jail and that we were going to catch them and give them a whipping. We were given brown cloth gloves and my car was filled with gas from Mr. Akins gas tank. Jim Snowden, who works for Troy Laundry in Meridian came to Akins trailer park, too. Arledge, Snowden, and Jordan got into my car and we drove to Philadelphia. Killen and Wayne left before we did and we were told that we would meet him there. Killen had a 1962 or 1961 white Buick. When we arrived in Philadelphia, about 9:30 P.M., we met Killen and he got into my car and directed me where to park and wait for someone to tell us when the three civil rights workers were being released from jail. While we were talking, Killen stated that 'we have a place to bury them, and a man to run the dozer to cover them up.' This was the first time I realized that the three civil rights workers were to be killed. About 5 or 10 minutes after we parked, a patrolman from Philadelphia came to the car and said that 'they are going toward Meridian on Highway 19.' We proceeded out Highway 19 and caught up to a Mississippi State Patrol Car, who pulled into a store on the left hand side of the road. We pulled along side of the patrol car and then another car from Philadelphia pulled in between us. I was driving a 1957 Ford, 4 door, 2 tone blue bearing Louisiana license. The Philadelphia car was a 1958 Chevrolet, 2 door and color maroon. It also had a dent on front right hand fender next to the light. No one got out of the cars, but the driver of the Philadelphia car, who I later learned was named Posey, talked to the patrolmen. Posey then drove away and we followed. About 2 or 3 miles down the Highway Posey's car stopped and pulled off on the right hand side of the road. Posey motioned for me to go ahead. I then drove fast and caught up to the car that the three civil rights workers were in, pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. About a minute or 2 later, Deputy Sheriff Price came along and stopped on the pavement beside my car. Jordan asked him who was going to stop them and Price said that he would and took after them and we followed. The Civil Rights workers turned off Highway 19 on to a side road and drove about a couple of miles before Price stopped them. Price stopped his car behind the 1963 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon driven by the Civil Rights Workers and we stopped behind Price's car. Price was driving a 1956 Chevrolet, 2 door and 2 tone blue in color. Price stated 'I thought you were going back to Meridian if we let you out of jail.' The Civil Rights Workers stated that they were and Price asked them why they were taking the long way around. Price told them to get out and get into his car. They got out of their car and proceed to get into Price's car and then Price took his blackjack and struck Chaney on the back of the head.
"At the junction of Highway 19 and where we turned off, I had let Arledge out of the car to signal the fellows in the Philadelphia car. We then turned around and proceeded back toward Philadelphia. The first car to start back was Price and he had Jim Jordan in the front seat with him and the three civil rights workers in the back seat. I followed next and picked up Arledge at the junction of Highway 19. Snowden drove the 1963 Ford, belonging to the Civil Rights Workers. When we came to Posey's car Price and Snowden pulled over to the left side of the Highway and stopped in front of Posey's car. I stopped behind it. Wayne and Posey and the other men from Philadelphia got into the 1963 Ford and rode with Snowden. I do not know how many men were from Philadelphia. Price then started first and I pulled in behind him and Snowden driving the 1963 Ford came last. I followed Price down Highway 19 and he turned left on to a gravel road. About a mile up the road he stopped and Snowden and I stopped behind him, with about a car length between each car. Before I could get out of the car Wayne ran past my car to Price's car, opened the left rear door, pulled Schwerner out of the car, spun him around so that Schwerner was standing on the left side of the road, with his back to the ditch and said 'Are you that nigger lover' and Schwerner said 'Sir, I know just how you feel.' Wayne had a pistol in his right hand, then shot Schwerner. Wayne then went back to Price's car and got Goodman, took him to the left side of the road with Goodman facing the road, and shot Goodman.
"When Wayne shot Schwerner, Wayne had his hand on Schwerner's shoulder. When Wayne shot Goodman, Wayne was standing within reach of him. Schwerner fell to the left so that he was laying along side the road. Goodman spun around and fell back toward the bank in back.
"At this time Jim Jordan said 'save one for me.' He then got out of Price's car and got Chaney out. I remember Chaney backing up, facing the road, and standing on the bank on the other side of the ditch and Jordan stood in the middle of the road and shot him. I do not remember how many times Jordan shot. Jordan then said. 'You didn't leave me anything but a nigger, but at least I killed me a nigger.' The three civil rights workers were then put into the back of their 1963 Ford wagon. I do not know who put the bodies in the car, but I only put Chaney's foot inside the car, Price then got into his car and drove back toward Highway 19. Wayne, Posey and Jordan then got into the 1963 Ford and started up the road. Snowden, Arledge and another person who I do not know the name of got into my car and we followed. I do not know the roads we took, but went through the outskirts of Philadelphia and to the Dam site on Burrage's property. When we arrived at the Dam site someone said that the bulldozer operator was not there and Wayne, Arledge and I went in my car to find him. We drove out to a paved road and about a mile down the road.
"We saw a 1957 Chevrolet, white and green, parked on the left side of the road. Wayne told me to stop and we backed up to this car. Burrage and 2 other men were in the car. Wayne said that they were already down there and Burrage said to follow them. I followed the 1957 Chevrolet back toward the Dam site, taking a different road, until the Chevrolet stopped. Burrage said 'it is just a little ways over there,' and Wayne and the bulldozer operator walked the rest of the way. The bulldozer operator was about 40 years old, 6 ft - 2 inches tall, slim built and a white male. He was wearing khaki clothes. Arledge and I then followed Burrage and the other man back to Burrage's garage. The other man was a white male, about 40 years old, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches tall, stocky built. Burrage's garage is on the road toward Philadelphia and he had tractors and trailer parked there. His house is across the road.
"We were there about 30 minutes when the other fellows came from the dam site in the 1963 Ford. Burrage got a glass gallon jug and filled it with gasoline to be used to burn the 1963 Ford car owned by the three civil rights workers. Burrage took one of the diesel trucks from under a trailer and said 'I will use this to pick you up, no one will suspect a truck on the road this time at night.' It was then about 1:00 to 1:30 in the morning. Snowden, Arledge, Jordan, Wayne and I then got into my car and we drove back toward Philadelphia. When we got to Philadelphia a city patrol car stopped us and we got out. Sheriff Rainey, Deputy Sheriff Price and the City Patrolman, who told us which way the civil rights workers were leaving town, got out of the patrol car. The patrolman was a white male, about 50 years old, 5 feet 8 to 9 inches, 160 lbs., and was wearing a uniform. This was about 2:00,AM., June 22, 1964. 1 do not know his name, but I have met him before and would know him again.
"We talked for 2 or 3 minutes and then someone said that we better not talk about this and Sheriff Rainey said 'I'll kill anyone who talks, even if it was my own brother.' We then got back into my car and drove back to Meridian and passed Posey's car which was still parked along side the road. We did not stop and there was one or two men standing by Posey's car. We then kept going to Meridian. I took Wayne home, left Jordan and Snowden at Akins Mobile Homes, took Arledge home and went home myself. I have read the above Statement, consisting of this and 9 other pages and they are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I have signed my initials to the bottom of the first 9 pages and initial mistakes. No force threats or promises were made to induce me to make this statement."
Horace Doyle Barnette.
Henry Rask, Special Agent, FBI Nov. 20, 1964
James A. Wooten, Special Agent, FBI, New Orleans, La. 11-20-64
JFP: The Alternative Newsweekly of Jackson, Miss.
: "[Breaking] Killen Sentenced to 60 Years
Moments ago in Neshoba County, Judge Marcus Gordon has sentenced Edgar Ray Killen, 80, to the full 60 years possible for his guilty verdict for manslaughter in the James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner case. The judge sentenced Killen to the maximum 20 years for each count of the indictment�or for the death of each young man. Gordon could have sentenced Killen to as little as one year for each count.
Posted on Jun 23, 05 | 10:20 am |  read story/comments (41 views) "
Killen Sentenced... So? What about the other guys?
Preacher Edgar Ray Killen was just sentenced to
count 1 - 20 years in custody of MDOC
count 2 - same
count 3 - same
So how is it that we're left with one old man selected to atone for all of Mississippi's sins? Is Killen really the only one with blood on his hands?
The Arkansas Delta Peace and Justice Center suggests the Mississippi Attorney General should tell the four surviving individuals who were convicted in the federal trial in 1967 on charges of conspiracy to deny civil rights that:
a. The State of Mississippi is intent on convicting guilty parties;
b. The State of Mississippi prefers to convict those guilty parties who have never served time (which in effect could exclude them);
c. That if they fully cooperate, they will not be pursued, or at least treated leniently;
d. Otherwise, they will be vigorously prosecuted and the State of Mississippi is confident they will be convicted as they were in 1967, and that they will spend the remaining years of their lives incarcerated.
* * *
And all of the victims who’ve never received the justice due them by the state of Mississippi? There are so many… Birdia Keglar, Jo-Etha Collier, James Edward Calhoune, Emmett Till, Rev. George Lee, Cleve McDowell… the list is huge.
If we accept no justice in Mississippi, where do we expect it? The American people deserve better.
Author of "Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited."
So how is it that we're left with one old man selected to atone for all of Mississippi's sins? Is Killen really the only one with blood on his hands? Blogger Ben Greenberg at HungryBlues
is asking that question today (along with a lot of other folks).
"I expect Killen's defense attorney to be the sort of racist that McIntyre proves himself to be. His statements are reasonably predictable, as far as I'm concerned. But let's look at how Jim Hood, the supposed emissary of the victims' families conducted himself in the courtroom, too ... "
My blog post was written in the heat of anger on Tuesday. I stand by the assessment even if I'd moderate my tone were I to write it again. I say that Jim Hood is lying because he did not do his duty. He did not bring all the witnesses to the stand. He did not request help (i.e., evidence!!) from Justice Department and request a special prosecutor, as has been done in most of other civil rights era murder cases that have been reopened. Hood also did not give adequate time to reviewing the evidence for other possible indictments of the 9 other living suspects and has come out at various times and essentially admitted that he is purposefully pursuing Killen and only Killen. "
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Sovereignty Commission Online
Bill Minor went on to write a Sunday feature explaining the "Christian Militant organization" dba White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. "As Christians, we are disposed to kindness, generosity, affection and humility in our dealings with others," their order declares, he wrote.
Then ... "As militants, we are disposed to the use of physical force against our enemies," adds the 'bible' of the white Knights, Minor reported.
"For 'security,' the WKKKK document
goes on, each local unit must maintain 'a squad of at least eight well-armed men, each man with a minimum of 50 rounds of ammunition.'"
* * *
Mr. ex-Mayor: I'm sort of thinking that the only people who would recognize the WKKKK as "peaceful" would have some inside knowledge that the rest of us don't have the luxury of having.
Sovereignty Commission Online
: "SCR ID # 6-37-0-11-1-1-1 "
Apparently the Klan had the Sovereignty Commission a little concerned back in 1967 ..
At least here's what Director Erle Johnston
had to say:
Sovereignty Commission Online
: "SCR ID # 6-37-0-12-1-1-1 "
Deja Vu All Over Again ..
Back in 1967 at the trial of those "peaceful" guys who murdered SC&G, reporter W. F. Minor of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans commented that Sam Bowers' attorneys found themselves in the position of having to defend the Klan as a "Christian group" and Bowers "as a man of peace and nonviolence."
Now I just wonder where Philadelphia's former mayor last week came up with his characterization of those "good ol' boys"?
Do you suppose he looks through the Sovereignty Commission files
while he's fishin'?
: "The defense rested Monday after a former mayor testified that the Klan was a 'peaceful organization.' Harlan Majure, who was mayor of this Mississippi town in the 1990s, said Killen was a good man and that the part-time preacher's Klan membership would not change his opinion.
Majure said the Klan 'did a lot of good up here' and said he was not personally aware of the organization's bloody past.
'As far as I know it's a peaceful organization,' Majure said. His comment was met with murmurs in the packed courtroom.
Between the time when I started this post and when I'm finishing it now, the Killen verdict came in: guilty on three counts of manslaughter, not murder. That is, he is guilty of kidnapping them and that they died after they were kidnapped, not for murdering with intent. As both Ben Chaney and Rita Schwerner Bender said in the news conference that I caught on TV, it is a significant first step that Killen has been convicted and held responsible for Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman's deaths, and for that I am happy. But it is only a small first step.
Why is Mississippi protecting white, racist murderers? "
Continues on HungryBlues blog
So what's the hold-off?
From the Arkansas Delta Peace and Justice Center
How to break the Neshoba case wide open (probably)
... and this has been discussed by me with representatives of the Mississippi Attorney General office. Did they pursue the approach? I do not know. I do know that I think it has a high probability of success if properly implemented.
1. The Attorney General should tell the four surviving individuals who were convicted in the federal trial in 1967 on charges of conspiracy to deny civil rights that:
a. The State of Mississippi is intent on convicting guilty parties.
b. The State of Mississippi prefers to convict those guilty parties who have never served time (which in effect could exclude them)
c. That if they fully cooperate, they will not be pursued, or at least treated leniently.
d. Otherwise, they will be vigorously prosecuted and the State of Mississippi is confident they will be convicted as they were in 1967, and that they will spend the remaining years of their lives incarcerated.
Of course, this approach would not work with Sam Bowers since he is serving a life sentence for the murder of Vernon Dahmer. But it could work with the other three who were convicted in 1967: Jimmy Arledge, Billy Wayne Posey, and Jimmy Snowden. The approach might work even with some of the lesser figures who should have been convicted in 1967 but were not.
Sovereignty Commission Online
: "SCR ID # 2-112-2-7-1-1-1 "
When an investigator visited Philadelphia Dec. 4 - 7, 1964, he walked into the arrest of 21 "white men in connection with the disappearance and murder of three civil rights workers..."
Lots of names in this report.
Why was only Killen prosecuted? Ten people who faced federal conspiracy to deny civil rights or other charges in the 1960s related to the murders of the three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi are still living. But only Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen finally faced state charges.
So why only Killen? What about all the others?
Jimmy Arledge - presently living, Meridian, MS
Sam Bowers - presently living, Central MS Correctional Facility
Olen Burrage - presently living, Philadelphia, MS
James Thomas "Pete" Harris - presently living, Meridian, MS
Tommy Horne - presently living, Meridian, MS
Billy Wayne Posey - presently living, Meridian, MS
Jimmy Snowden - presently living, Hickory, MS
Jimmy Lee Townsend - presently living, Philadelphia, MS
Richard Willis - presently living, Noxapater, MS
- from the Arkansas Delta Peace and Justice Center
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Students share their talents at Sunday's memorial service. "Good for Business is Not Good Enough!"
" ... a palpable sense of the killings"
Mississippi journalist and self-described "good ole boy," the late Willie Morris, known for speaking out on civil rights matters with passion and some candor, once wrote there was some feeling in Mississippi after the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner "that we hit the bottom of the barrel … and that the better people of the South and of Mississippi must, as Abraham Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, ‘Try to respond to the better angels of our nature.’"
Morris, a Yazoo City native, in a 1983 interview by author Studs Terkel talked about Florence Mars, a liberal white woman who served as his informant while covering the Philadelphia, Mississippi story:
"Her courage comes in strange packages. She was forty years old during The Troubles (they always called that period "The Troubles") and here she was one of the handful of human beings in the town who stood up to the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan controlled the police and a lot of the city government.
"In fact, it interested me that almost the only people in the town who stood up to the Klan were women. A few of them were the wives of Catholics who knew their husbands were not secretly members of the Klan because of the Klan’s traditional stance against the Pope."
Once visiting the spot where the three murders took place at sunset on Rock Cut Road, Morris wrote of experiencing a "palpable sense of these killings taking place in those red gullies…. The South and Mississippi could not stoop any lower."
Robert Keglar enjoys the moment
Robert Keglar of Charleston came
to remind others of his mother,
Birdia, and his brother, Sonny Boy,
who were murdered by the Klan in 1966.
Birdia was the first black person to
vote in Tallahatchie County since
Reconstruction and was the organizer
of the county's first NAACP chapter.
Ben Greenberg of Hungry Blues blog takes notes at Saturday's outdoor memorial for Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.
Neshoba County Mississippi
The car is unpacked and we've had a couple of days to rest and reflect about this weekend's wonderful experience in Philadelphia.
A recap via The Arkansas Delta Peace And Justice Center
on 41st Annual Chaney Goodman Schwerner Memorial Service ...
The outdoor service under the big shade trees in front of the Longdale Community Center on the land of the civil rights pioneers the late Cornelius Steele and Mable Steele was very appropriate and very comfortable.
The service was very similar to the great service that was held in 2003: many civil rights movement veterans and others as scheduled speakers and many additional speakers with much speaking truth to power. The question of Why only Killen was often raised, but many other issues as well. Rita Bender and Ben Chaney were eloquent, insightful, and moving as were many others. And Hollis Watkins did his usual wonderful work of facilitating the freedom singing. And I am sure there were no complaints about the food, only compliments.
At least 150 people attended including many civil rights movement veterans, members of Mt. Zion church, Longdale area residents, and others.
It was a labor of love on the part of many, especially the residents of the area.
Let the Blog-alyses Begin ...
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
"Mississippi in 2005 is protecting white, racist murderers"
"That's how Diane Nash put it this past Sunday at the 41st Annual James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner Memorial Service, which I attended in Neshoba County, Mississippi (more on the service coming soon...). Ms. Nash has a real knack for stating the truth of things. I've been asking repeatedly, Why only Killen? But it is really more to the point to ask, Why is Mississippi protecting white, racist murderers? ... There is a whole lot to say in the why is Mississippi protecting racist murderers department about how the case has been pursued, but this bit from a recent article (via The Arkansas Delta Peace And Justice Center) about the deadlocked jury also speaks volumes.." Benjamin T. Greenberg
) was in Philadelphia this weekend and offers his unique and well-developed "blog-alysis"
on the verdict.
Well..? Better than nothing? Hmmm
BREAKING: Killen Guilty of Manslaughter
"Donna just called in to the office from the Neshoba courthouse to tell us that the jury has found Edgar Ray Killen guilty of three counts of manslaughter in the 1964 deaths of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. The jury, locked at 6-6 yesterday evening, returned the verdict this morning."
Read more from the Jackson Free Press
Neshoba County Mississippi
"I think we have to look at how a government became complicit in terror and how good people sat back and let it happen."
Rita Schwerner Bender
Memorial Services in Philadelphia
June 19, 2005
: "Jurors in the murder trial of ex-KKK member Edgar Ray Killen told the judge they were deadlocked after deliberating for under three hours. The judge instructed them to continue. Killen is charged in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers."
("The defense rested Monday after a former mayor testified that the Klan was a "peaceful organization." Harlan Majure, who was mayor of this Mississippi town in the 1990s, said Killen was a good man and that the part-time preacher's Klan membership would not change his opinion.
Majure said the Klan "did a lot of good up here" and said he was not personally aware of the organization's bloody past.
"As far as I know it's a peaceful organization," Majure said. His comment was met with murmurs in the packed courtroom.") More
Monday, June 20, 2005
Jackson Free Press Goes the Extra Mile
"...Less than a mile from the church was a second memorial event, held in a field with folding chairs, shade tents and tables laden with barbecue and homemade cakes. About 50 people gathered to hear speakers including Ben Chaney, Mr. Chaney's younger brother, and veterans of civil rights-era boycotts and sit-ins like Curtis Muhammad, who came from New Orleans, and Diane Nash of Chicago.
"It was organized by what might be termed a splinter group of the committee that planned the church service. The event was on land once owned by Cornelius Steele, who was working with Mr. Schwerner to register blacks to vote. Mr. Steele is now dead; his son John helped organize the service."
Thank God for the NYT
. At least BOTH memorials were reported. Not so in the Clarion-Ledger.
Jackson has an alternative press that won high honors over the weekend for its covereage of such events. With their representatives in Philadelphia over the weekend, watch for the JFP pictures and coverage. I expect it will be good.
Meanwhile...JFP Wins Two First Place AAN Awards in San Diego
The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies announced Friday at its national convention in San Diego that the Jackson Free Press has won two first-place writing awards and one second. Only one newspaper, the L.A. Weekly, won more first-place awards than the Free Press. more ...
Here's a sample of JFP coverage
of the Killen trial and related stories.Take a look and you will see why the awards were given to this online publication.
Sovereignty Commission Online
Here is pathologist David Spain's account of what he learned upon examining the body of James Chaney. The state's Sovereignty Commission later fought for removal of his medical license ...
"Like the photograph of Emmett Till two generations ago, the picture of James Chaney horrifies and outrages.
It is that autopsy picture, along with a signed autopsy report obtained by The Clarion-Ledger, that experts say proves Klansmen on June 21, 1964, didn't just kill the black civil rights activist, they tortured him before he died."
Jerry Mitchell, The Clarion-Ledger
What really happened that night? A pathologist from the East Coast quickly flew out to Mississippi to look at the body of James Chaney and his report gave further insight.
reporter, wrote this ...
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Sovereignty Commission Online
From the Sovereignty Commission's "clippings" - an interview with Dick Gregory over the murder of Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman.
Sovereignty Commission Online
Reports of "discord" between FBI, local officials at "an all time high"
When a Sovereignty Commission investigator visits Philadephia on September 3, 1964, he finds local cops and the FBI, led by Sullivan, in a shouting match.">Continued ...
Saturday, June 18, 2005
In Memory of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney. 1964 Freedom Summer
Friday, June 17, 2005
Rita (Schwerner) Bender testified yesterday, drawing rapt attention. Killen became ill and wound up in the hospital. Here's a recap ...
Meridian blogger "Bidwell" chased the ambulance
Donna Ladd, editor of the Jackson Free Press
, and Natalie Irby gave a thorough account of yesterday's activities. These two journalists, as expected, are providing a thoroughly professional account of what is going on - minute by minute.
Boston blogger Banjamin T. Greenberg from his Hungry Blues site
offers a unique political/historical perspective on Neshoba and all of civil rights. Very good with a morning cup of coffee.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Sovereignty Commission Online
Soon after the Neshoba murders, author Louis Lomax and nine researchers, black and white, went into Mississippi and interviewed eyewitnesses to the actual events that transpired. The 65-page article
was copied and placed into Sovereignty Commission files. A fascinating read ...
Sovereignty Commission Online
A year after the Neshoba County murders of the three young civil rights workers, Congressman Charles C. Diggs, Jr. presented two news articles, one from Look magazine and one from the Washington Post, "which set forth in starkest terms the story of southern justice which has now brought us to this fearsome threshold."Interesting to read
some forty years later ...
You are invited to attend
There is a wonderful event in Neshoba County this weekend in celebration of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. I'm posting the announcement that includes directions on how to get there. This is the "alternate" celebration and we hope to see you there.
Longdale Community Center 41st Annual
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner
"A Full Measure of Truth and Justice"
Longdale Community Center
County Road 632
Neshoba County, Mississippi
June 19, 2005, 1:00 P.M.
You are invited to attend the 41st annual Memorial Service for the three slain civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. The service will be held on June 19 at 1:00 pm at the location of the former Longdale community center on County Road 632 in the Longdale community in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The location can be reached from Philadelphia by going east approximately 2 miles on highway 16, then turning left on county road 482 and proceeding about 7 miles, then turning right on county road 632 and proceeding for about 1 1/2 miles. The former community center site is on the right.
Although the formal service will begin at 1 p.m. we encourage people to come as early as 10 a.m. and visit with old and new friends.
The service will be conducted outdoors on the Steele family’s land. There is ample shade and ample parking. Since we will have a tent, in the event of rain, there will not be a problem. The community on the road people will travel to get to the site is friendly to our cause. There will be much and varied food, from barbeque to healthy salads, for attendees. Thanks in advance to the food committee.
This will be an event for remembering, conversation, exchanging thoughts and ideas, strategizing and calling for justice.
Concerns and Issues
We shall remember and honor James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.
We shall address issues that are of concern in the year 2005, including:
“Why only Killen?” More people were complicit. At least 8 men who faced federal conspiracy to deny civil rights or related charges in connection with the 3 murders in the ‘60s (4 of them were convicted.) are alive. They should be prosecuted also.
There were at least 8 other bodies found when the FBI was looking for Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman. We insist that the federal and state governments investigate those murders and prosecute the guilty parties.
There will be a Call for Justice for a long roll of murders in Mississippi that have never been addressed, including murders that occurred decades ago, right up to those that have occurred very recently. Families and friends of all those who know of unsolved murders are especially invited to attend.
Governmental misconduct and involvement of federal, state, county, local, law enforcement, business, religious and civic bodies in racism and violence, from long ago until the present, will be addressed.
Persons who attend will have the opportunity to have their personal recollections and stories videotaped.
There will be discussions of present and future strategy for overcoming white supremacy and racism which is still a huge problem, and for obtaining justice for all who have been murdered by white racists in Mississippi.
Speakers and Program Participants
Confirmed speakers thus far for this year's service are:
Margaret Block - native of the Mississippi Delta; veteran of the civil rights movement, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committe (SNCC); sister of fellow civil rights worker Sam Block; teacher and oral historian; after many years in California presently living back home in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Ben Chaney - Director of the James Earl Chaney Foundation; native of Meridian, MS; younger brother of slain civil rights worker James Chaney.
Rev. James Lawson - Considered to be the leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence within the US civil rights movement and continues today as an advocate for the power of collective nonviolent struggle in furtherance of campaigns for peace, justice, freedom, equality, and human rights. In 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee he mentored a number of young students who were future leaders of the Civil Rights Movement including Diane Nash, Marion Barry, James Bevel, and John Lewis. The activists trained by Lawson launched a series of sit-ins to challenge segregation in Nashville's downtown stores in 1960. These activists and others from Atlanta and elsewhere in the South joined to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1968, while pastor of Centenary Methodist Church in Memphis, Reverend Lawson served as chairman of the sanitation workers' strike committee. He invited Dr. King to Memphis in April 1968 to dramatize their struggle. He continues to train activists in nonviolence and to work in support of a number of causes, including opposition to the war in Iraq, and workers' rights to a living wage.
Rev. Advial McKenzie - Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Quitman, Clarke County, Mississippi.
Curtis Muhammad - Civil rights movement veteran (SNCC) and native Mississippian. In the early 1960s he worked in voter registration and direct action projects throughout Mississippi. Bodies of work that he helped organize include the Mississippi freedom vote, R.L.T. Smith Congressional Campaign, Jackson Bus Boycott, Adult Literacy, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Freedom Corps, Mississippi Freedom Labor Union, and Tent City. From his early days in the movement he learned how to be a freedom fighter for life.
Diane Nash -Chairperson of the student nonviolent sit-in movement in the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters (Nashville, 1960). One of the founding students of SNCC (1960). Coordinator of the Freedom Ride from Birmingham to Jackson in 1961. Director of the direct action arm of SNCC in 1961. Worked in voter registration and direct action projects in many counties in Mississippi. Activist in the peace movement that worked to end the Vietnam War. Co-developer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's (SCLC) initial strategy for the Selma Right-to-Vote movement. Recipient of the J.F. Kennedy Library Distinguished American Award and of the L.B. Johnson Library Civil Rights Award. (Ms. Nash says that even though she received the awards, in fact, they belong to all movement participants.) A native and current resident of Chicago she currently works in support of several issues related to liberation and peace.
George Roberts - Long-time human rights activist. Native of Kemper County, Mississippi. President, Kemper County NAACP.
Dr. Cleveland Sellers - a native of Denmark, South Carolina and presently history professor and Director of African-American Studies at the University of South Carolina and a fellow in the North Carolina Institute of Politics at Duke University. He participated in some the major civil rights activities of the period: helped plan the March on Washington in 1963; as a field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee based in Holly Springs, Mississippi he participated in Freedom Summer of 1964 and the challenge of the all-white Mississippi Democratic Party; and as SNCC program chair he participated in the March Against Fear in 1966 in Mississippi. Dr. Sellers marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Ala., was jailed in Georgia and Louisiana, and spent time in federal prison for refusing to be inducted for the draft. His protest against all-white draft boards led to their being desegregated. He was one of 27 people wounded in a 1968 clash between state troopers and South Carolina State University students over segregated public accommodations. Three students died in what is known as the Orangeburg Massacre. Dr. Sellers was the only person jailed as a result of the incident. He was convicted of inciting a riot and served seven months in jail. He was pardoned in 1993 and the governor later apologized. Dr. Sellers is co-author of the civil rights movement classic The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC. Dr. Sellers has stated, "My commitment is beyond whatever the obstacles and distractions were, including the suffering and disappointment. I thought it was more important to achieve the goal of helping move humanity forward."
Bernice Sims - Ms. Sims began work in Civil Rights Movement while a teenager in Meridian, Mississippi. Early on she worked under the leadership of Medgar Evers and Charles Darden. Later she worked closely with Matt "Flukey" Suarez, James Chaney, and Michael and Rita Schwerner in Meridian. During those early years she was a member of the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). She is a professional social worker, artist, actress, teacher, and writer. In 1989 Ms. Sims became the first African-American trustee for Hempstead, New York.
John Steele - Human rights activist and Neshoba County native. The Steele family worked closely with James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. The family has been the key organizers in the annual memorial services from the beginning and through 40 years. John Steele, his mother and his sister are the only three church members still living who were at Mt. Zion Methodist Church the night of June 16, 1964, when church members were beaten by Klansmen and the church burned.
Jimmie Travis – native of Mississippi and veteran of civil rights movement in Mississippi. He was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In February 1963, on the highway outside Greenwood, Mississippi three whites in a car pulled alongside of and fired a burst of shots from a machine gun into a car containing SNCC leader Bob Moses, Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) voter registration director Randolph Blackwell of the Voter Education Project, and SNCC worker Jimmie Travis. Mr. Travis, the driver, was seriously wounded in the neck and shoulder. He is presently associated with Visions Physical Therapy in
Rev. C.T. Vivian - Rev. Vivian whose civil right activism began in the 1940s continues today, tirelessly working for the progress of African Americans and the civil and political rights of all peoples. He founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, organizing the first sit-ins there in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. Rev. Vivian was a rider on the first "Freedom Bus" into Jackson, Mississippi, and went on to work along-side Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his Executive Staff in Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, Nashville, the March on Washington; Danville, Virginia; and St. Augustine, Florida.
Hollis Watkins - Native of Mississippi. Civil rights movement veteran, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Co-founder and President of Southern Echo, Inc., a leadership development, education, training, and technical assistance organization headquartered in Jackson, MS. Hollis Watkins is a powerful force in the efforts to carry on the unfinished business of the civil rights movement.
Edward L. Whitfield - from Little Rock, Arkansas, where after years of segregated education he attended Little Rock Central High School graduating with highest honors in 1967. He was the first African-American Presidential Scholar invited to the White House from Central High. While in high school he was the State President of the Arkansas NAACP Youth Council, participated in demonstrations challenging Jim Crow practices, and was early peace activist opposing the Vietnam War. In 1969 at Cornell University he became the chairman of Cornell’s black student organization in a very turbulent period of struggle for black studies, and he became a national officer in the newly formed national black students organization, SOBU (Student Organization for Black Unity). Mr. Whitfield left Cornell University to work full time with SOBU and the newly formed Malcolm X Liberation University in North Carolina. After the closing of MXLU, he remained in Greensboro, North Carolina to do labor and community organizing work. He continues to work particularly in the areas of education and peace and justice. Mr. Whitfield is the Co-chair of the Greensboro Peace Coalition, and has been heavily involved in the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Commission which has been investigating the 1979 murders of community activists by Klansmen, that is known as the Greensboro Massacre. He was recently state co-facilitator for the successful March 19 anti-war demonstration in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In addition Ed works full time as a Senior Electronics Specialist in a manufacturing plant
Civil rights story circles:
John O'Neal, veteran of the civil rights movement in Mississippi (SNCC), will bring folks from the Colorline Project to do small story circles for those who wish to tell their stories on video about our civil right history, particularly in this case and others as it relates to the murders and lynchings of our fellow freedom fighters.
In addition to formally addressing the gathering, Hollis Watkins will facilitate freedom singing by the entire gathering.
Additional speakers, including more civil rights movement pioneers and veterans, family members of the three young men, and others, will be added.
As always at the memorial service, there will be an invitation for others who may wish to speak.
We hope you will join us.
Please share this information. The service is open to the general public.
Curtis Muhammad John Steele
(504) 236-4703 (925) 497-9868
Diane Nash John Gibson
(773) 821-5423 (870) 972-9248
Rev. C.T. Vivian
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Until the killing of a black mother's son becomes
as imporant as the killing of a white mother's son,
we who believe in freedom cannot rest.
What happened to Henry H. Dee and Charlie Eddie Moore?
J. Edgar Hoover had just left Jackson in mid-July 1964 when a police report came in from Tallulah, Louisiana, eighty miles west of Jackson. A fisherman had seen the lower half of a man's body snagged on a log floating in a former channel of the Mississippi, Old River - now a bayou. Small search vessels went into the area and two corpses were found. But they were not the bodies of the missing three civil rights workers from Mississippi. The river bottom was searched anyway by a Navy frogman squad that was flown in from Charleston, South Carolina but no other bodies were found that day.
Later, through the FBI, it was reported that the bodies of Henry H. Dee and Charlie Eddie Moore, both 19, had been targets of the Klan - Dee, simply because he had once lived in Chicago and Moore, because he was known to have participated in a protest demonstration at Alcorn A&M. Both had been taken from a country roadside and beaten to death in a remoted section of the Homochitto National Forest.
Then several more bodies were found as the search for Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman continued. "These were the routine victims of the Mississippi police/Klan juggernaut - found and identified this particular summer only as an unintended consequence of the national attention drawn to the state.
"Apart from the Dee and Moore killings, one of the saddest discoveries of the season was the body of a never-identified boy, about fourteen, wearing a CORE T-shirt, which was found floating in the Big Black River," wrote Seth Cagin and Philip Dray in what is perhaps the most thorough book written on the Neshoba County murders, "We Are Not Afraid." (New York:Macmillan Edition, 1988, 447-449)
The authors interviewed eyewitnesses, participants and consulted hundreds of coduments, letters and oral histories to come up with their thorough description of what took place in Neshoba County. Hoover's assistant director, Joseph Sullivan, had quickly concluded that the Klan had literally or implicitly "enlisted" every white adult male in the county.
"Blacks, understandably fearful, kept off the streets as much as possible. Northern FBI agents who expected local blacks gladly to provide information the white community withheld were soon disappointed. Their federal badges and Yankee accents mean nothing. Blacks trusted them only slightly more than they did local policemen such as Rainey Price, Otha Neal Burkes, or Richard Willis, and had no reason to believe that what they said would not be immediately reported back to "Mr. Lawrence," "Mr. Cecil" or any of the town's new crop of "deputy sheriffs." (450)
Democracy Now! | Mississippi Trial Begins in 1964 Civil Rights Killings
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! - interviews with Ben Chaney and Carolyn Goodman..
"Tuesday, June 14th, 2005
Mississippi Trial Begins in 1964 Civil Rights Killings
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The trial of former Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen has begun in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He is charged with the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers. We speak with the brother and mother of two of the victims, Ben Chaney and Carolyn Goodman. And we speak with the journalist who has been investigating the murders for the past 16 years. [includes rush transcript]
Jury selection began yesterday in the 41-year-old case of three civil rights workers, murdered in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Philadelphia, Mississippi. African American James Chaney, and whites Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were part of the voter registration campaigns of Mississippi Freedom Summer.
They were driving to Neshoba County to inspect a church that had been burned by the KKK when deputy sheriff Cecil Price, a Klansman, stopped them for speeding and held them in jail until a mob could gather. The local Klan leader, Edgar Ray Killen, is now on trial for masterminding the murders and choosing the burial site. In 1967, the federal government tried 18 men for conspiring to violate the victims' civil rights. Seven were convicted, but none served more than six years in prison. And Killen himself was released when his all-white jury deadlocked. We go down to Mississippi in a moment, but first, we hear from Carolyn Goodman, mother of Andrew Goodman. She spoke to us yesterday before leaving to attend the trial. "Democracy Now! | Mississippi Trial Begins in 1964 Civil Rights Killings
Sovereignty Commission Online
In July of 1964 two young men's bodies were found in the Mississippi River near Tallulah, LA and were thought to be two of the missing civil rights workers. Charles Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee had been hitchhiking in rural Southeast Mississippi. Moore was a student at Alcorn and Dee was a laborer. Charges were later dropped against two men, believed at first to have killed the duo.
Here's a newspaper clipping:
Sovereignty Commission Online
Philadelphia's old downtown Ellis Theater. Shades of the past.
Neshoba County Courthouse - quiet before the trial.
JFP Blog: Mississippi v. Edgar Ray Killen
The Jackson Free Press has a courtroom media press and the blogmanship is great. I've posted her link and will pass on her comments, as well. Expect top reporting from these folks.
"Day 3 in Philadelphia
This morning came quickly---up at 6 a.m. to be at the courthouse by 7:30. Reporters gathered around in hopes of reserving a seat in the courtroom. 27 seats are available for the media, and if more than 27 media persons are present for the seat assignment a lottery of names comes into play. This will be the process throughout the duration of the trial. Luckily there were only about 15 of us waiting today; thus, the Jackson Free Press has a courtroom media pass. Jury selection will wrap up sometime today, so hopefully the actual trial will begin after lunch. McIntyre, one of Killen's lawyers, said that opening statements will definitely be heard today, but he gave no other promises. more...
Posted on Jun 15, 05 | 9:29 am |  read story/comments (11 views) "JFP Blog: Mississippi v. Edgar Ray Killen
village voice > news > Press Clips by Jarrett Murphy
Barry Klopfer sends this interesting link - "Will a Verdict Mean the Case is Closed?"
More from Blogger Bardwell ...
"Newsday: Former Killen Associate Will Testify
John Gonzales of Newsday caused something of a stir at the Neshoba County Courthouse on Tuesday, and this morning, I see why.
According to Gonzales, a former Neshoba County resident named Wilmer Faye Jones is on the witness list for the Edgar Ray Killen trial. Jones was apparently a Klan compatriot of Killen's, and just weeks before the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, Jones observed as Killen orchestrated a kidnapping similar to that of Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney."
What do you think? Pretty fascinating stuff and it certainly beats watching Michael Jackson stuff. This is history. Cool. sk
Coming from the neshoblog this morning ...
"Newsday: Former Killen Associate Will Testify
John Gonzales of Newsday caused something of a stir at the Neshoba County Courthouse on Tuesday, and this morning, I see why.
According to Gonzales, a former Neshoba County resident named Wilmer Faye Jones is on the witness list for the Edgar Ray Killen trial. Jones was apparently a Klan compatriot of Killen's, and just weeks before the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, Jones observed as Killen orchestrated a kidnapping similar to that of Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney.
Here's an excerpt:
Court documents examined yesterday list subpoenas for several living former Klan members who would have done much of the bidding of Killen, 80, who prosecutors say orchestrated the 1964 murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. They also revealed a witness petition for former local resident Wilmer Faye Jones, who unlike the ex-Klan members was not called during the 1967 federal trial in which Killen was acquitted.
According to court documents and a brief interview with Jones yesterday, Killen wanted the black youth [who supposedly wanted to date a white girl] dead even though the date never occurred and, it turned out, it was the girl who had asked Jones out. As was allegedly the case with the three civil rights workers, Jones was held by local police and released to the white supremacist group.
'He was incarcerated in the Neshoba County, Miss., jail for several hours for no legitimate purpose,' an April 2005 witness request reveals of the incident that took place only three weeks before the slain civil rights trio went missing. 'As he was released from the jail, Edgar Ray Killen and other members of the Ku Klux Klan were waiting for him.'
Kudos to Gonzales on a good story. I can"
And Kudos to blogster Bardwell of Meridian. He's doing a great job to keep us informed. Beats hearing about the Jackson trial. Right?
Coming from the neshoblog in Philadelphia ...
"Madison Capital Times Rips National Media For Trial Coverage
Anyone paying attention to national media might think the biggest trial in the nation this week was for a broken-down pop star. So today, The Capital Times of Madison, Wisc., lambasted national media for focusing on the Michael Jackson trial and largely ignoring the Edgar Ray Killen trial.
Here's an excerpt:
It is precisely because the voting rights struggle continues that the trial of Edgar Ray Killen is not a footnote to history. It is a vital reminder that we are barely a generation away from the days when Americans were killed for registering people to vote, and that there is still work to be done before all barriers to voting rights are removed.
When will that fight be won? Perhaps when the media pay as much attention to the trial of an old bigot in Mississippi as they do to the trial of a pop star in California.
# posted by Bardwell @ 8:06 AM Comment (0) | Trackback (0) "
Oh, how true. I'm so disgusted with the national media over the stupid coverage of Jackson. How about you?
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