Read the JFP's full "Road to Meadville" blog/archive here
It was spring 1964 when a Highway Patrolman pulled Burl Jones, 27, over on Main Street in Meadville, Miss., for running a red light in his Ford car. The patrolman took the young black man with piercing, rich-blue eyes, a sawmill worker in Roxie, to the Franklin County Jail where he was locked up.
It wasn't until the next day that Jones' father got the word—they didn't have a phone then—that his son was in jail. He went in and paid the $10 fine, but the jailers wouldn't let Jones out just yet. They held him for three or four days in the jail. Then at dawn one morning, his captors woke him and set him free.
As Jones walked down the hallway away from the jail, he looked up to see two men blocking his exit. They were wearing pointy white Klan hoods, the eyeholes cut out. They were carrying baseball bats.
The Klansmen lunged toward Jones and began beating him, knocking him to his knees and then the ground. The bats hit his back several times, pounding the air out of him, causing him to writhe with pain on the floor. Then the two Klansmen dropped a cloth hood on his head, picked him up by the arms and legs, carried him out in broad daylight and threw him into the spacious trunk of a car.
After driving a ways, the vehicle stopped, and the Klansmen pulled Jones out. He could tell he was being dragged through the woods until the men made him hug a wide tree and tied him to it. They then cut his pants and shirt away with a knife and began beating his back and buttocks with what he believed to be bullwhips. He could tell there was a crowd of men behind him, egging them on, cursing, calling him "nigger." A couple of them kept asking him what he knew about some "construction workers" they seemed very concerned about, but Jones didn't know who they were talking about.
Finally, the Klansmen—or "Kluckers" or "bedsheets," as FBI agents called them—stopped the whipping and cut the rope holding Jones to the tree. As he fell to the ground, one of them told Jones that they would let him live if he promised to leave Mississippi, to go to Chicago and never come back.
"I, I'm already planning to go to Chicago," Jones sputtered through the pain. "That's where the jobs are."
The Klansmen put Jones into the trunk and drove back out to U.S. Highway 84/98 and dumped him by the side of the road. He remembers little about how he got back home to his father's house, except for quick images of some black folks bending over him, wiping blood from his back.
Two days later, Jones joined the migration of young black men to Chicago; he snuck out of town in 1964, helped by some men in the community, including a black preacher from Roxie, Clyde Bennie Briggs.
One day in late 1964, Jones picked up a copy of Jet magazine and saw a story about two young black men from back home in Franklin County—Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee—whose decaying body parts had been found in the Ole River offshoot of the Mississippi River near Tallulah, La.
When he learned that two Klansmen from Franklin County—James Ford Seale and Charles Marcus Edwards—had been arrested for beating them nearly to death in the Homochitto National Forest, near Meadville, and then dumping their still-alive bodies into the "Devil's Punchbowl," as that section of the river's backwater was sometimes called, Jones knew how lucky he was to be alive.
Unlike a shocking number of black men in Southwest Mississippi, Jones had survived a Klan "action."
THE FOOLS HATH SAID
As a "province giant" for Province No. 9 of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi starting in 1963, James Kenneth Greer Jr. did not kill any black folks, he says.
But as one of the earliest members of that klavern, Greer did help with some rough actions designed to scare blacks and their white supporters out of any foolish ideas about threatening the white Southerner's way of life.
"Young people tend to do stupid things, get themselves in trouble," he told photographer Kate Medley and me, sitting back in his cushy recliner in South Natchez on a Saturday afternoon in July, surrounded by photos of his children and grandchildren. His wife, Shirley, was out of town, visiting their grandkids in North Mississippi.
The former Klan officer wore blue coveralls, a bit sweaty from working outside in his proud, lush yard filled with chimes and little sculptures and birdhouses and birdbaths and Boo, his frenetic, barking Pomeranian. His mailbox, too, was adorned—with an inscription from Isaiah 40:13-17: "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counselor hath taught him?"
Greer, who will be 73 in December, had never been approached by the media and had not talked about the Klan publicly since he was one of several alleged Natchez-area Klan officers called before the House Un-American Affairs Committee in Washington on Jan. 14, 1966, after being served with the subpoena at his workplace, International Paper, on Nov. 3, 1965.
Before the committee, Greer resisted sharing details about his experience as a fund raiser for the KKK, taking the 5th Amendment against incriminating himself, as did the others, including James Ford Seale, Charles Marcus Edwards, Clyde Wayne Seale, Billy Douglas Buckles and Edward Willard Fuller.
This July, though, Greer was eager to talk about how much Mississippi has changed—and how stupid he and his white friends were in the old days. "I got in the Klan, and I talked Daddy into going to a meeting," Greer said. "He told me, 'Son, that's a bunch of fools. He was 100 percent right; it don't take but a few fools to mess up your whole world."
But white people had been told their whole lives that black people stank, that they were inferior, dangerous, lazy, sexually depraved. So they believed it, he said, shaking his head.
Suddenly, they were faced with laws changing the way blacks and whites lived in the South, and they believed they thought they had to protect their children, their state, themselves by any means necessary.
"I don't know. You might say it was a necessity in those people's minds at the time—until you really got into it and saw what it was going to lead to. … People in the South, especially people with young girls, kids, little girls, they just couldn't stand the idea, and I was one of them, of putting their children in school with them 'nigger boys.'"
THE COTTONMOUTH CLUB
Greer blames the Klan's embrace of violence for the ultimate failure of segregation. "That's what helped the blacks. … Let's be honest about it," he said. "If you had had a bunch of real good (white) people, real good citizens, and the Klan had gotten big enough, you could have done a lot simply by putting pressure on the government."
Then, Greer paused, as he often did to examine his last sentence. "Of course, you need to be in the right in what you're doing. Under the Constitution, everybody in this country is supposed to be equal, you know, so there was no way you was going to win by saying the blacks couldn't be ordinary citizens. … There wasn't no way because they're people."
He added: "You're not going to stop people from wanting justice done if they think they've been unjustly treated. And you can't really blame 'em."
Greer stayed in the Klan for several years, through its bloodiest period, alongside some of the same men who were arrested for killing Moore and Dee on May 2, 1964, including Charles Marcus Edwards and James Ford Seale. And he did some stupid things, too.
During one incident, he says, four other Klansmen convinced Greer to use his car on Halloween Day, 1963, to chase down white civil rights worker Bruce Payne, a 22-year-old Yale graduate student, and George Green, a 21-year-old black Mississippian who worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Payne and Greer were in Natchez to help with a mock election.
According to news reports, the Klansmen followed the two men from Natchez to Port Gibson. When they stopped for gas, the Klansmen attacked the young men right in front of customers who did not intercede. The Klansmen also shot up their car. The Klan group included Ernest Avants, who finally went to prison in 2003 for executing black 65-year-old sharecropper Ben Chester White in 1966, and Myron Wayne "Jack" Seale, the brother of James, who would be accused of tying the barely alive bodies of Dee and Moore to a Jeep engine block in May 1964.
Greer told us that he did not participate in the actual beatings; he says he stood back and watched. Highway Patrol officers arrested the Klansmen nearly a year later, on Oct. 22, 1964, for assault and battery with intent to kill, facing up to 10 years in jail. The Clarion-Ledger reported then that Greer and Avants were charged with two counts and the others one count.
FBI and state troopers retrieved a large collection of weapons from the Natchez home of Jack Seale after the arrest: automatic rifles, hunting knives, pistols, a shotgun and an array of ammunition. The Mississippi Highway Patrol reported the same Klansmen had attacked the two men again on Nov. 2, 1963.
The Klansmen's attorney was former Gov. Ross Barnett, the governor who tried to stop the integration of Ole Miss and now has a major reservoir just outside Jackson named in his honor. The case was dropped when the civil rights workers, who had left the state, did not return for the trial in Vicksburg.
"I don't know if I can explain this or not. But the macho thing—you had to be this macho person, you know, to be in the Klan," he says. "I was too ignorant to see it myself, but you just can't win like that."
"People would go around talking about wanting to kill blacks. … Young (white) Mississippians didn't have no sense; we thought you had to be in the Klan," Greer said, emphasizing, though, that it was a violent minority who wanted to actually kill people. He remembers talk of a Cottonmouth Moccasin Club, purportedly across the river in Louisiana, that had a horrifying membership requirement.
"In order to get into this organization, you had to have killed a black," Greer said.
Greer says now that he is not sure the Cottonmouth club really existed—although participants in Ben Chester White's 1966 murder would later testify that Avants was a leader of it. But mere talk of such a club was motivation enough for some men. So was paranoia that blacks were going to start defending themselves.
'UNTIL THE DAY I DIE'
The day after our first visit to Greer, we spent a stifling Sunday morning in Roxie, Miss., a little hamlet about halfway between Natchez and Meadville.
Thomas Moore was sweating as he paced in the woods on property owned by his cousin across the road from James Seale's church. The Army veteran, now a resident of Colorado, was back in his native Franklin County to look for justice in the 1964 beating and murder of his brother, Charles Moore, who was killed along with Henry Dee by members of the Ku Klux Klan from Adams and Franklin counties.
Moore was on the fifth day of his visit back home, along with filmmaker David Ridgen of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp and photographer Kate Medley and me. While Kate and I were visiting Greer the day before, we had gleaned a shocking fact, about the same time Moore and Ridgen had heard the same bombshell from a black Roxie resident. I had mentioned to Greer in passing that I knew accused murderer James Ford Seale was dead, drawing a sideways look of confused disbelief. The same day, a black resident of Roxie had told Moore and Ridgen that Seale, reported as dead in recent years by media outlets including the Los Angeles Times and The Clarion-Ledger, was living right in Roxie across from the BP station in a small trailer next to his brother's home.
We already knew that Charles Edwards was still living in Franklin County, but the news that Seale was also alive sent Moore into a bit of a tizzy. In confessions of Klan informants in 1964, the FBI had identified Seale as the Klansman who first picked up hitchhikers Moore and Dee in Meadville on May 2, and then drove them into the Homochitto National Forest.
There, the FBI stated in 1964 investigative reports, Seale and Edwards beat them nearly to death with bean sticks (long, skinny branches of the type used to stake beans in a garden) in an incident eerily similar to the beating of Burl Jones earlier that year. As they were beating them, the Klansmen demanded details of anti-Klan activity by blacks in the area—specifically whether any were stockpiling guns to defend themselves.
Finally, either Dee or Moore told the attackers that he had heard that a Preacher Briggs was hiding guns in his church in Roxie. But that information wasn't enough to save their lives; this time, the Klansmen did not dump the two men back on the highway as had happened with Jones earlier that year.
With the two young men nearly dead, other Klansmen took over to dispose of the bodies, the FBI said. Seale's father, Clyde, brother Jack and others came and drove the barely alive men to the Ole River backwater near Tallulah, La., on property owned by Natchez businessman and Klansman Ernest Parker. There they tied the bodies to old Jeep parts and then sank them, according to statements made to the FBI in 1964.
After learning that Seale was still alive, Moore had decided that he wanted to confront him. He wanted to tell Seale to his face that their alleged crime was not forgotten, that he would "push it until the day I die," as he likes to say. Moore wanted him to know that he had read the FBI account of the murders, that he knew the evidence in 1964 was strong, but that the district attorney then had not been willing to push for justice in the murders of the two black men. The men had been arrested for murder but released before the grand jury convened in January 1965 with promises of more investigation by local authorities, which did not come.
So that Sunday morning, Moore and Ridgen were hanging out in the woods, waiting for Seale to come to church, as Kate and I parked in an all-too-conspicuous driveway near the small country church to watch the confrontation take place. Moore, who was wearing thick glasses equipped with a tiny secret camera provided to him by Ridgen, planned to walk down the road and then approach Seale when he saw him walking toward the church. (He and Ridgen had snapped a blurry image of him the day before from the highway and believed they could identify him in person.) It was a nerve-wracking wait.
'LONG, LONG WAY TO WALK'
Alas, Thomas Moore's "come-to-Jesus" meeting with James Ford Seale didn't take place. Seale didn't attend church that day—which Moore said later was just as well, due to the intense anger that he had welled up inside 41 years after his brother's murder, four long decades when the case drew scant media coverage and even less attention from local authorities.
"That was the most tense time of the whole trip," Moore said later by phone, after returning to Colorado. "It was hot, I had a long way to walk. I was real, real tense about it."
After the stress of that Sunday morning, Moore took some time on his trip to re-group. He went to Jackson the following week and met with U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton, who happened to have been in the same U.S. Army unit as Moore. Lampton promised Moore that he lead an effort to re-investigate the Dee-Moore case, as well as that of Wharlest Jackson Sr. (see page 18), and oversee the multi-agency investigation himself.
In Jackson, Moore also talked to Paul Jones, the reverend who had helped establish a reward fund for information to help convict the murderers of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Jones told Moore that he would help establish a reward fund for the Dee-Moore case, a project that is still in the works as this story goes to press.
"I made friends in Mississippi," Moore said about his trip home. "Jones is a guy who is going to help me."
By the time Moore returned to Franklin County at the end of the week, he still wanted to let the two Klansmen know that he was in town looking for justice. On Sunday morning, July 17, he went to Roxie First Baptist Church to ask local blacks to support his quest for justice and, after the church service, erected handmade signs in several spots in Franklin County, including on the road in front of both Edwards' and Seale's homes and in the spot where Dee and Moore were last seen alive on Main Street in Meadville, in front of what is now known as Della Mae's ice cream store.
The sign on Main Street stayed up the longest, two full weeks on the street where everybody, of every race, passes nearly daily in Meadville. But the sign disappeared overnight on Sunday, July 31, according to local Moore supporters who were keeping an eye on it.
Before the sign went missing, though, little bunches of flowers had started appearing on the ground underneath it.
'IF IT WAS YOUR BROTHER'
After missing Seale at the church on July 10, Kate and I returned to South Natchez to find Greer watering his lawn. He showed us around his very busy lawn and front porch as he watered his wife's plants, looking like he could imagine nothing more satisfying than puttering in the space he and his wife had created. The extremely personable ex-Klansman pointed to several hanging ferns, and laughed as he told us that he accidentally watered them several times before his wife let him know that they were fake.
Sitting on the back porch with Boo bouncing around our feet, we talked a little bit about Thomas Moore and his quest for justice for his brother's murder. "If it was your brother, I don't know, there's no way of knowing what you would do," Greer said, shaking his head filled with thick white hair that flops over his light-blue eyes Elvis-style. "If the same thing happened to me, I don't know if I'd have moved out of Mississippi or not."
Still, like many Mississippians, Greer is conflicted over the re-opening of old cases. "Well, it just brings up all that trouble that happened," he said. "I know you think I'm contradicting what I just said (about Moore), but I was looking at it from that fellow's point of view, but I'm looking at it from mine now. And that's totally different. It's not helping the state, it's not helping me and you, too. It may help an individual or two or three or five or eight."
Greer then paused, shaking his head as if he couldn't quite settle on the right answer. "On the other hand, maybe if we'll just, for instance, say that 80 percent of the people in the United States know about this particular thing and nothing's ever been done about it, maybe we should do something about it," he said.
Looking back on the time, Greer says now that the violence against black people—and the "good" people willing to both commit it and go along with it—befuddles him now. "I was raised with black people, worked in the field with them," said Greer, a native of Ruth, near Brookhaven.
But, Greer says, in the 1950s and '60s, the situation in Mississippi got "totally crazy." He describes an environment where, suddenly, the life—the segregated life—that everyone was so comfortable with was turned on its head. The culture went from being one in which white people didn't hurt, or particularly pay attention to black people as long as they "stayed in their place" to one of violence, intimidation and even terrorism because blacks wanted equality from a legally segregated community not ready to allow it.
Much of the fear and anger was about plain old economics. Many whites, especially poor whites, believed that black people were going to take away their jobs and, thus, their livelihoods. "We was poor, and they were poor," Greer said of blacks in the 1960s.
A SOURCE OF PRIDE
It was June 1965, and Natchez attorney Forrest A. Johnson Sr. was determined that his boys would know what a Klansman looked like. So the Ole Miss grad and World War II veteran loaded his young sons, John and Al, in his car and took them to a Klan rally in Liberty Park where 4,000 Klansmen were expected to march.
I first met Sixth Circuit Court Judge Forrest A. Johnson Jr. in the Meadville courthouse on a drowsy Friday afternoon in August. As I was sitting in the City Clerk's office looking through dusty bound volumes for the original arrest warrants for accused murderers Edwards and Seale, issued Nov. 6, 1964, a well-dressed man of 50 lurked around the door, peeking in, seemingly wanting to talk.
I first learned that the judge covers civil cases in Adams, Amite, Franklin and Wilkinson counties. I then learned that his deceased father, Forrest Sr., was a hero of the Civil Rights Movement—a man the Klan called "the most treacherous white man" they had ever run across.
"I don't know how he got started," the judge told Kate and me the next day, sitting in his messy office in the Adams County Courthouse. "At some point in the '60s, he began to be outspoken against the Klan. … It was a really tense time. People can't even begin to understand what it was like."
As Klan violence reached a feverish pitch—matched in volume by the growing anger of civil rights organizations and fueled by a growing paranoia that blacks were going to reject non-violence and start fighting back—the judge's father published a daring little alternative paper in Natchez called the Miss-Lou Observer. The paper, which cost 10 cents, took on the Klan every week in 1964 and 1965—and, ultimately, nearly caused the family's financial demise as angry Klansmen and segregation supporters demanded a boycott of his paper and law practice because they didn't appreciate his views on the "race question."
Yellowing back issues of the Observer show just what a race war waged in the area in the mid-1960s. On the front page of the March 31, 1965, issue, Johnson ran an open letter "To the Grand Dragon," who apparently had been "offended" by the paper's negative coverage of an anonymous flyer that listed names of community people who were shaky on the race question.
In the letter, Johnson defended his coverage: "The article was directed at the cowards who placed hoods over their faces and killed, bombed, beat, intiminated, and distributed libelous filth under the cover of darkness. Their identy is still unknown to us. (sic)" He ended the letter: "Meanwhile we have no apologies to offer either the Grand Dragon or the Klan, neither do we have any apologies for anyone else whether they be Purple Lizzards, Pink Elephants, Long Haired Billy Goats, or Yellow Bellied Snakes. (sic)" Then his actual signature appeared below the letter.
"The Klan was just so strong in this part of the state. My father was fortunate to live through it, to escape it." The Klan had "total control" of Natchez, brazenly holding open meetings, he said. Although the vast majority of whites were not in the Klan, "their silence allowed it to go on."
'ALLEGED' KLAN VIOLENCE
Indeed, the race violence in Natchez in the mid-1960s was perhaps the most concentrated in the country, even as the murders in Neshoba County dominated the news out of Mississippi. Even "investigators" for the state agency set up to enforce segregation, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, seemed in awe of the level of Klan violence in and around the city, as well as the massive FBI presence. (And this was an organization that helped feed race violence, even feeding the license plate number of Michael Schwerner to "authorities" through the investigative reports.)
Investigator A.E. Hopkins wrote in his Oct. 22, 1964, report that the FBI was in Adams County in force "because of the alleged burning of several churches in that area as well as several bombings and the whipping of several Negroes; also, because of the murder of two Negroes from Meadville whose bodies were recovered from the Mississippi river while the investigation of three civil rights workers from Philadelphia was being investigated by Federal, State and local officials."
In the same report, Hopkins told racist state officials that safehouses for civil rights workers had blue chairs on their front porches, and he reported the arrests of Greer, Avants and friends on Oct. 23—arrests that occurred "sooner than I predicted," he said.
By that time, some 100 FBI agents were in the region in full force to both investigate the Dee-Moore murders and to try to curb the escalating violence, said former agent Bill Williams who spent two years there in the crossfire between civil rights workers and the Klan there. From his home in Oregon, Williams said in July that the race wars in the area are "a story never told," that Natchez in 1964 had become the "focal point for racial, anti-civil rights activity for the state for the next several years."
Williams—who now speaks to student groups about his Mississippi days, bringing in a full Klan suit for show-and-tell—remembers 18-hour days trying to infiltrate and break the Klan. "I had no idea what I was stepping into," he said. "It didn't take me long to get educated."
The former agent recalls Natchez Police Chief J.T. Robinson—known as a moderate on race issues—declaring martial law for two weeks and bringing in the Mississippi National Guard to prevent an all-out race war between the "Kluckers" and hundreds of their opponents who had packed into Natchez. Intersections were sandbagged; there were shootings and beatings everywhere, and even a full-blown riot at Alcorn State in Lorman, he said.
Williams said the FBI often found themselves on the wrong side, hated by either the civil rights workers or the segregationists, no matter what they did. "The interesting thing about law enforcement is that there was too much for one side and not enough for the other," he said. "Our main focus was to stop the violence. Everything else was on the back burner."
A FEW GOOD MEN
The weekend before Hurricane Katrina hit, sitting in the McDonald's just off Morgantown Road in Natchez, Burl Jones talked about his brush with Klan violence in 1964. It was the first time he had talked about his beating in the woods, at least in a public way. He seemed amused that two white Mississippi women were so intent on knowing what had happened to him. "If you'd have told me there'd be a day in Mississippi like this, I wouldn't have believed it," he said, his blue eyes dancing with amusement.
Fortunately, Jones did not have lasting injuries from the beating, but he did have scars that took years to heal. But in Chicago, he was able to get on with his life. "I really did forget it," Jones said. "I tried to forget it. I never would have survived if I had kept worrying about it," said the ebullient 68-year-old, wearing a baseball cap from the Crossroad Truck Stop & Supply, Intersection Hwy. 84-33, Roxie, Miss., which happened to be the same intersection where accused murderer James Ford Seale lived.
Jones stayed in Chicago for 40 years, mostly in Calumet City, a suburb where he had a comfortable home with a yard he loved to work in, and good friends. But he surprised himself earlier this year when he decided to move back home to Franklin County. He's happy here now. "Oh, yeah," he said. "I never thought I'd come back."
The differences in today's Mississippi are remarkable, he said, compared to his youth when a black person couldn't walk on the same sidewalk as a white person. And he was especially scared of Natchez back then, he said, when Klan members were everywhere, hoods cockily on their heads. "You wanted to stay clear of a town that let them openly have their meetings," he said.
Today, though, Jones lives in Natchez, in a "white neighborhood," as he calls it. When he first moved in months ago, the white man next door put up a tall fence, Jones said. "Now he comes by and cuts my lawn, and asks me to go to church with him," Jones said with a laugh. "I'm thinking about it; it'd be a way to pay him for cutting my lawn."
Down in South Natchez, Greer has a similar story. After he retired from International Paper, he went to work at a rental-car agency to have something to do. There, he became close friends with a black co-worker, about his same age, and had to go on car trips with him to pick up vehicles. They had long conversations and became close, but he felt guilty because of his Klan past.
"I knew he'd wonder, so I told him," said Greer, a man who still tells his wife "I love you" on the telephone every time she calls to check in. "He understood. He really thanked me for telling him. I thought I owed it to him; he's such a nice fellow."
Greer then added with a belly laugh: "I don't stop black people on the street and tell them I was in the Klan, though."
Additional research by Natalie Irby and Thabi Moyo. Special thanks to David Ridgen of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Read the JFP's full package of stories about the Klan and their victims in and around Natchez and Meadville, Miss., in the 1960s:
I Want Justice, Too: Thomas Moore's Story, July 21, 2005
A Dream Deferred, July 27, 2005
Franklin Advocate Editorial and Thomas Moore Response, July 28, 2005
Evolution of a Man: Lifting the Hood in South Mississippi, Oct. 26, 2005
Daddy, Get Up: This Son of Natchez Wants Justice, Too, Oct. 26, 2005
Dear Meadville: Thomas Moore Tries to Wake Up His Hometown, Oct. 26, 2005
Editor's Note: Damned If We Don't, Oct. 26, 2005
Also see: JFP Blog: Mississippi v. Edgar Ray Killen, June 2005
Unbelievable. You've done it again - raised the bar another notch. Wonderful story, Donna. A story with substance.
I did live in the Pulitzer mansion in Colorado Springs. Yes, there is a Pulitzer mansion in Colorado Springs. ;-)
It was a good read, and should be shared.
Thanks, JAC. I feel strongly that stories like Mr. Greer's, not to mention Mr. Jackson's and Mr. Moore's, need to be told honestly and in a human way, and I appreciate all of them being willing to be so forthright to us.
The photo of Mr. Greer, and the story, are featured on AltWeeklies today, btw, widening the reach.
A good story that highlights the evolution of Mississippi and many Mississippians. This is exactly what we need to see and hear in order to metamorphose and free ourselves from the heavy burdens of the past. This story fits perfectly with my longstanding position of facing our demons and moving on in the right directions.
- Ray Carter
there is so much history that needs to be told and heard.
I have always thought I was fairly knowledgable of miss. civil rights history, but this story I have not heard.
it makes me so very ill to read these stories, but they need to be yelled from the rooftops.
the one thing I wish I could erase from every persons vocabulary is: "we need to let these past crimes lie, it will only stir up trouble"
CRIME IS CRIME. the criminals need to be brought to trial
Exactly right, Pippa. And Ray, you have hit on why we need to 'pick at the scab' as someone recently accused me of doing. You don't get a healing scab until the infection is cleaned; anything else is going to come off eventually, once the infection builds up the pressure. Better to get out the iodine and get ready for the sting, because otherwise, it just won't go away.
Maybe the elders from Natchez need to take a trip up to the Delta and start speaking about the shortcomings of their paradigm, because a new trend up there is for the young punks to drive around with nooses hanging from their left rearview mirrors as symbol of intimidation. Have the parents of these kids learned nothing?
nooses? who is doing this? how very odd
Where are you getting that information?
- Lori G
The man mentioned that helped Burl Jones escape from the klan to Chicago is my grandfather. Rev. Clyde Briggs. I actually was doing some geneaology and was googling my grandfather's name and found this article. My grandfather died when my father was young so I have not heard many stories about him, but this one is a pleasant suprise.
- Carmen M Briggs
See the JFP's follow-up story about Rev. Clyde Briggs here.
The Clarion-Ledger today mentions Burl Jones briefly at the bottom of a story about the Sovereignty Files. The JFP found and featured Burl Jones in the above story in 2005 because his beating was very similar to that of Dee-Moore, although he was allowed to live.
Another victim of these 1964 beatings was Burl Jones of Natchez, who said he was jailed in 1964 in Franklin County for running a red light, only to be released after dawn into the hands of waiting Klansmen, who blindfolded him.
The men took him out and whipped him, telling him to leave town.
He left for Chicago, where he lived until 2005 when he moved back home.
"There's a God somewhere," he said. "There had to be to change Mississippi."
BTW, if you wish to peruse the Sovereignty Files for yourself, click here. This is highly recommended for every Mississippian, and every American, for that matter.