Creative Loafing: 'Racial Healing In Mississippi' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Creative Loafing: 'Racial Healing In Mississippi'

Creative Loafing editor and blogger John Sugg has published a cover story about the Killen trial, with an intriguing comparison of Killen and Dick Molpus, in the Creative Loafing papers in Atlanta, Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. He writes:

It was a rhetorical question, but one freighted with implication for this town and the surrounding Neshoba County. For Mississippi and the South, as well. It was a question that should inspire those throughout the South who long for justice and reconciliation. And it was a question that should haunt diseased souls, especially those of Mississippi's two U.S. senators, Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, who still play the race card and see little need to heal the South's wounds left from decades of terror, beatings, shootings, church bombings, cross burnings - and almost 4,800 lynchings between 1882 and 1964.

The question, sweeping in its simplicity, from retired Neshoba Democrat editor Stanley Dearman: "Can you believe that this town produced Dick Molpus and Edgar Ray Killen?"

The polarity between the two men is an eloquent metaphor for the South - Killen the distilled, arrogant essence of evil; Molpus an ever-evolving archetype of what's good in the Southland.

Ku Klux Klansman Killen was convicted last week on three counts of manslaughter for organizing the June 21, 1964, murders of three Civil Rights workers, Michael "Mickey" Schwerner, Andrew "Andy" Goodman and James "J.E." Chaney.

Garbed in a yellow prison outfit - his days of brightly embroidered Klan robes are likely behind him forever - Killen on June 23 was given a triple dose of 20-year sentences. Sixty years in the big house should ensure that the 80-year-old white supremacist never again befouls the streets of Philadelphia. Several times in the hours after his sentencing, Philadelphians remarked to me with verbal winks that they hoped Killen had a long, long life. Such as living to, oh, say, 140 years.

And who is Dick Molpus? Mississippians remember him as a former secretary of state and candidate for governor whose political aspirations crashed and burned after he denounced the state's racist past.

Far more important than his resume, however, Molpus is credited with inspiring a citizens' movement - the Philadelphia Coalition - that took root and grew into a quest for justice, culminating in Killen's conviction.

"I think that without the courage Dick showed in 1989, when unscripted he told the families of the murdered Civil Rights workers that 'I apologize' for what happened in his town and his state, well, I'm not sure that all of the rest would have happened," says Fent DeWeese, a lawyer and member of the Philadelphia Coalition.

The occasion of Molpus' seismic-shock speech was the 25th anniversary memorial of the murders. In 2004, Molpus spoke again, at the 40th anniversary service. The scene was the Mt. Zion Methodist Church, which five days before the 1964 murders had been torched by the Klan, its congregation beaten by cowards in hoods.

[Editor's note: Dick's second historic speech speech took place at the Philadelphia Coliseum, not Mt. Zion. – D.L.]

_______

And another money quote from Sugg piece:

What must really gall Edgar Ray Killen is that it wasn't the FBI that finally nailed him. It wasn't the holier-than-thou reporters from the liberal New York Times. And it certainly wasn't those bugaboos of yesteryear, the "outside agitators," who thundered the guilty verdicts.No, it was his hometown, his own neighbors. The prosecutors were Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, from the nearby town of Houston, and the local district attorney, Mark Duncan. The 12 jurors were all bedrock Philadelphians, nine white and three black. And while the jurors split evenly at first on whether to convict Killen of murder or manslaughter, not one felt he was innocent.

Also, a clarification on Sugg's quote from me. He quoted me saying about the Philadelphia Coalition: ""I call it a crack in the Southern strategy." Actually, I call Barbour's appearance at the Neshoba County 40th commemoration "a crack in the Southern strategy." It's about the political strategy; my point there, and in my writings, was that Barbour's appearance was significant because it meant that, politically, a conservative Mississippi politician thought he had to come, not stay away. And I'm not sure what it had specifically to do with the state's inferiority complex, which he indicates that I said next. Confused a bit by this, but it's just a quibble.

Otherwise, I've love to hear everyone's thoughts on this piece.

Previous Comments

ID
141678
Comment

I love this statement in Sugg's story: "The fact that there is a William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation at Ole Miss is a good measure of how far the former governor pulled the state out of the darkness. Now in the hands of lesser men, Mississippi is backsliding." very accurate statement of current affairs...

Author
Steph
Date
2005-07-01T13:08:20-06:00
ID
141679
Comment

"Backsliding" is certainly a good word for the Barbour administration and his lapdogs in the Mississippi Senateónot to mention our two U.S. senators right now. Another good one would be "regression." There are too many people who prefer to live in a past that wasn't good for everyone because it benefitted them. "Lesser men" isn't a shabby phrase, either. And it certainly applies in a word where even the senator considered the more moderate, and less race-baiting of our two, cannot even find the courage to condemn the Senate's past lack of action on lynching. There are no role models here. For much of our history, the good people of this state have lowered ourselves to the levels of the "leaders" we electóthe William Winter era is a notable exception. It's truly time that we realize how much better we can do, and how much more we deserve than men like Lott, Barbour and even Cochran telling the world that Mississippi is much worse place than it really is.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-01T13:27:49-06:00
ID
141680
Comment

Oh, dear. Nothing against Mr. Dearman, but I think he missed the mark by a mile. He seems to have his heart in the right place, but I'd be feeling a whole lot better right now if I had read this comment from him, The question, sweeping in its simplicity, from retired Neshoba Democrat editor Stanley Dearman: "Can you believe that this town produced J.E. Chaney and Edgar Ray Killen?" I adore Dick Molpus, he's courageous and forthright, compassionate and articulate, but really can't see placing what he put on the line ahead of what Chaney put on the line (and I believe Mr. Molpus would agree with me). Plus, he's not from nearly the same generation. I know Mr. Dearman meant all the best, and I know Dick Molpus is a wonderful, wonderful person, but still, I can't help being bothered a bit by that particular juxtaposition just now.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-01T21:25:00-06:00
ID
141681
Comment

Got a small stack of the Loaf that I will drop by the JFP tomorrow or Tuesday. Not many only about 20. Have a great 4th and be careful!

Author
tortoise
Date
2005-07-03T22:41:55-06:00
ID
141682
Comment

I adore Dick Molpus, he's courageous and forthright, compassionate and articulate, but really can't see placing what he put on the line ahead of what Chaney put on the line (and I believe Mr. Molpus would agree with me). Plus, he's not from nearly the same generation. I don't think that's at all what Dearman was doing. I think his point was exactly that Philadelphia produced two such different white men, with polar-opposite attitudes on race relations. Contrasting Chaney with his murderer Killen wouldn't make much of a point. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-04T02:17:22-06:00
ID
141683
Comment

Tim, I understand what you are saying and I believe I understand what Mr. Dearman was saying as well. While I applaud his thought, this still rubs me the wrong way; no need to repeat the reasons why. I'm honestly not trying to put Mr. Dearman down or criticize him, I'm just pointing out that the emphasis seldom seems to find it's way to the blacks in the history of this state, who, let's be honest here, played against greater "house odds" than anyone else. The chances of them falling afoul of the KKK or just some ordinary citizen of the state were much greater than any white person from either inside the state or outside. Therefore, in any action they took, they took a greater risk. I'm always surprised at the amazing amount of courge a few black Mississippians showed, against the weaker courage of most white sympathizers and other blacks in the state. And that is something that is too infrequently emphasized (it's so unusual for any group to act with so much selflessness in the face of such odds against their own survival). As for Dick Molpus, I really hope that he's going to have another go at running for the Governship of Mississippi. We need a good man in that office.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-04T12:27:54-06:00
ID
141684
Comment

C.W., we agree on that point (although I think any whites who dared to openly support civil rights were at as much risk from the KKK as blacks were; at least the blacks weren't "traitors to their race"). I haven't seen Mississippi Burning, but I've understood that that's what burns many people up about it: it downplays the vital work black people were doing for themselves and makes the white guys out to be the big knights in shining armor of the whole story. I do get that. I just think you're (still) missing Dearman's point, which had absolutely nothing to do with contributions one way or the other. Also, I'm not sure how fighting for your own rights counts as "selflessness," but anyway. Hope you're having a nice Fourth. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-04T13:52:23-06:00
ID
141685
Comment

I tend to agree with C.W. about the framing of this storyóit is a story about white Mississippians done by a white reporter from elsewhere who didn't talk to many black people. I like the author of itóbut its "whiteness" by its very nature makes it limited in its scope. Note that all the interviews, except one short quote from Ben Chaney, are with whites, mostly white men. That means that the story, while making some interesting points, falls squarely into the "Mississippi Burning" trap. That film defines what happened here for nearly everyone outside of hereóand it's about white people and white heroes and helpless black victims. Of course, Dick Molpus is one of my heroes, but I didn't dig the framing of this piece. I think it's simplistic. Also, comparing and contrasting two men of completely different generations didn't work for me as well. It seems to fall into the "outsider" trap of how in the world did good people grow up here, what with all the Klansmen running around. The story would have worked better for me, even with its "white" frame, if it had been talking about someone like Florence Mars who was taking on the Klan and the Citizens Council during the '60s at the same time. But, ultimately, I find the frame limiting and condescending to "good" Mississippians. I'd also be interested in the context of Mr. Dearman's quote; as I've mentioned, my quote in here wasn't used to refer to what I was actually talking about.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-04T14:04:47-06:00
ID
141686
Comment

C.W.'s complaint didn't come across to me as a problem with the story or its framing; it came across to me as a problem with what Dearman said and I responded accordingly. If it had been expressed as a problem with the story, I'd have responded accordingly to that instead. As to the story itself, it is indeed a story about white Mississippians that happens to have been done by a white reporter. I'm having trouble seeing that as a problem. Seems to me that white Mississippians are as legitimate a subject for a newspaper article as any other group of people. It would be different if the story purported to be anything other than that, but I don't see that it does. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-05T02:06:16-06:00
ID
141687
Comment

I should have added: If I'm missing something, let me know! I think my previous post came across rather harsher than I really meant it. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-05T04:51:33-06:00
ID
141688
Comment

Just a quick note here (more later - I've got to head to work). Both of you are right. :-) Tim, I didn't mention the framing of the story, although that was part of what was bothering me; Donna has bascially reminded me that what Dearman said was likely just in conversation (a bit of stream-of-consciousness) and what he may have felt was most important about what he was saying was not necessarily what the listener freighted with importance when he heard it. And no, Tim I don't think you are being harsh, I think we are just disagreeing. As far as Mr. Suggs goes, I like him as well and I enjoy reading his stories; no disrespect to him, either, I just wish he'd chosen a different emphasis for his story. The problem with it, Tim, is the frequency with which a story about the civil rights of blacks ends up being a story with whites as the principles and blacks relegated to a lesser role. I have no doubt, having read some of Mr. Suggs' other work, that this was not his intention. Things sneak up on the best of us, however, and someone needs to point it out; Donna has done a much better job than I did at delineating the basic problem, though.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-05T06:44:43-06:00
ID
141689
Comment

Hey C.W., I'm glad you didn't think I was being too harsh. :-) As for what you say about stories about civil rights ending up being stories about white people, I agree that that's a problem, most definitely. (You know, I need to see Mississippi Burning just to form my own opinion about how this story was treated there. Just as one example.) As for wishing Sugg had chosen a different story to write -- it's kind of his privilege to decide what to write about. Why don't you write the story you feel needs to be written? (Seriously!) Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-05T07:08:25-06:00
ID
141690
Comment

I'm having trouble seeing that as a problem. It's not a problem, per se, Tim. However, the overall problem -- which isn't Sugg's alone to solve -- is that the Civil Rights Movement here has ended up being defined by white folks from elsewhere who ignore black people's role in it. I personally think it is Mississippians' responsibility to tell our own stories, as I often write, which is a problem I'm trying to chip away at constantly. And I am constantly trying to write the story I believe needs to be written, in various ways. The ascerbated problem, though, is that, too often, "outsiders" define us by "Mississippi Burning" and "Mississippi Burning"-esque stories (for better and worse) and this is a disservice to all sorts of people in the state. I think we "insiders" need to point this problem out every chance we get in order to challenge outside media to do a better job at telling the whole story. That doesn't mean Mr. Sugg or anyone else doesn't get to write what they want to write, but it does mean that Mississippians need to speak out when we believe they're leaving out a bit chunk of our important history. As for Mr. Dearman's quote, I don't see anything wrong with it, per se. It may well have been a throwaway line that the writer than used to frame an entire story. I know Mr. Dearman and knows he understands the complexity of the problem and our history better than that one quote indicates. I think the question here is about the framing and whether or not it was a bit easy.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-05T09:32:43-06:00
ID
141691
Comment

As I said to C.W., I agree that that's a problem (the Civil Rights Movement story being told by whites). And I get as upset as the next person when I see Mississippi and its people being unfairly maligned. (When I lived in DC, I invested a lot of energy defending Mississippi, warts and all, to Yankee friends from equally warty places, believe me.) But I have to honestly say that I did not see any of that in Sugg's piece here. I'm inclined to think you're right about Dearman's quote being something Sugg seized upon because it was a priceless quote for the story he was writing. (You can hardly blame him; it is a priceless quote.) Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-05T11:28:59-06:00
ID
141692
Comment

Agreed. I'm not blaming him; I just think it was an easy story to hang around it (although well done and very good in parts). It's just not a complete look at "Mississippi Learning." It's up to us insiders to provide that.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-05T11:49:00-06:00
ID
141693
Comment

That's true. There was a bit of artificial balance, "good whites - bad whites" about the whole thing, in a way. (BTW, Donna, did you get my E-mail?) Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-05T12:38:20-06:00
ID
141694
Comment

Tim: Also, I'm not sure how fighting for your own rights counts as "selflessness," but anyway. How do you figure that? I think you might be looking at selflessness with a very narrow point of view. When you are working for the rights of not only yourself, but many many others who might not have your courage or devotion to the rights of everyone, I call that selflessness. Donna: I know Mr. Dearman and knows he understands the complexity of the problem and our history better than that one quote indicates. And probably a lot better than I do, considering how much of it he's lived thru right up close, and especially considering the years that he's spent calling for justice in Neshoba County. Tim: When I lived in DC, I invested a lot of energy defending Mississippi, warts and all, to Yankee friends from equally warty places, People have different sets of bias from which they work (no matter how hard we try, all of us have bias that influences our perception of the world and other people). I'm sure you hit up against their biased views of Mississippi. Happens to all of us. As far as a story, Tim, I have a book I've been working on for more than five years. I'm not sure that I will live long enough to finish it. I do have an opinion piece, entitled "Mr. Hood, finish the job you started," however, if you would like to read it: http://www.mississippipolitical.com/house.htm

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-05T17:36:03-06:00
ID
141695
Comment

Agreed, C.W. I think it is very "selfless" to work for the good of the many, whether or not you benefit from the result. And it's selfish not to.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-05T17:38:42-06:00
ID
141696
Comment

How do you figure that? I think you might be looking at selflessness with a very narrow point of view. When you are working for the rights of not only yourself, but many many others who might not have your courage or devotion to the rights of everyone, I call that selflessness. I wouldn't describe fighting for something that you yourself will benefit from as "selfless" under any circumstances. When I was demonstrating and working against the sodomy laws with QN in DC, I don't think that was selfless, because I was fighting for something that would benefit me. I don't think the fact that others would benefit makes it selfless; it just sucks that most of them weren't willing to fight (and in that situation, most of them could have without risking much; I don't mean to draw a parallel with Mississippi in the 1960s here). When I was demonstrating and fighting for abortion rights, I would call that selfless, because those are rights that will not ever benefit me directly. I agree that it's noble to work for the good of the many when you benefit from the result, but I'm not able to use the word "selfless" to describe it, since it quite literally is not that. I will read your opinion piece a little later when I have time. Right now, I need to get ready and go to work. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-06T00:28:48-06:00
ID
141697
Comment

I think you might be selling yourself a little short on the sodomy law thing. Was Martin Luther King Jr. not selfless because he happened to be black? Was Susan B. Anthony not selfless because she happened to be a woman? Truth is that there is no such thing as pure selflessness. We have to be careful not to fall for the Mississippi Burning dynamic that says that the privileged outsider is Jesus on the cross, while the victim is the thief on the cross behind him. Working to do justice benefits everyone, so it is never completely selfless in any mathematical sense of the term. People who get nothing out of activism don't do activism. I've done a small amount of activism on behalf of gay rights, rights of the poor and marginalized, etc., and it makes me feel useful. It channels my energy in a positive direction. It makes me all kinds of new friends. It is not selfless work. Activism never really is. It enriches the lives of those who do it. It is soul-building work. In order for activism to be a completely selfless experience, the activist would have to be a heartless sociopath with no moral convictions--in which case s/he probably wouldn't be an activist to begin with! Was Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights work selfless? (I'm counting only his work for African Americans here, not his other work for the poor, the working class, etc., which was also substantial.) Yes, a desired outcome would have technically benefited him--but look at the price he paid, and I'm talking about before he lost his life. He was stabbed, thrown in jail, old friends wouldn't talk to him, his colleagues thought he was a wuss, his marriage was in trouble, the FBI monitored him at all times, he regularly got death threats, and he kept going. That's selfless no matter how you slice it. You have to weigh what people lose versus what they stand to gain. King didn't campaign just because he wanted civil rights; he made so much noise that if he'd stopped there, he could have had them as a bribe. And I'd be willing to bet you didn't campaign against sodomy laws just so you didn't have to worry about being arrested, though only you can answer that question. Good activism is always selfless. It can also be delightfully gratifying. The line between ourselves and others is not so clear-cut as to make the terms mutually exclusive. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-06T02:14:48-06:00
ID
141698
Comment

Tom, I looked at www.m-w.com to get a definition of "selfless" and got this: "having no concern for self." I'll buy that that applies even to some people who are fighting for their own rights, like Dr. King (I wouldn't apply it to myself, though; I wasn't really sticking my neck out that far). C.W., excellent article. Thanks for posting the link. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-06T02:30:44-06:00
ID
141699
Comment

m-w.com is run by linguists, not philosophers. I would argue that true selflessness comes not from having a lack of concern for oneself (otherwise, suicide would be a selfless gesture); rather it comes from suppressing one's personal interests in the name of a higher cause. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-06T13:52:31-06:00
ID
141700
Comment

Tim, you sound pretty selfless to me. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree about that. Tom, thank you. I hate getting into arguments/discussions about defintions and sematics; so frequently, at least online, it seems to become circular in the end, with everyone arguing for their favorite dictionary. Not saying this one would have, just saying that my heart sinks a little whenever I get into something that argues the finer points of language (I know, I know; please don't ask me why I do it, then). When push comes to shove, language is not so easily fitted into neat little boxes - it just seems determined to bulge out the cracks and crevices, or rattle around a bit at the corners.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-06T16:31:27-06:00
ID
141701
Comment

C.W., couldn't agree more. And thanks for the kind words. Ordinarily I don't like to get hung up on semantics either, but this is important. As a white, heterosexual male who is fully on board with antiracism, gay rights, and radical feminism, I don't want to claim any additional privilege as an outsider. In a sense we are what we do, and that's more than enough reason for me to pursue activist causes--selfishly--that don't seem to directly benefit me. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-06T16:44:47-06:00
ID
141702
Comment

Tim, you sound pretty selfless to me. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree about that. Thanks. You're too kind. :-) I hate getting into arguments/discussions about defintions and sematics; so frequently, at least online, it seems to become circular in the end, with everyone arguing for their favorite dictionary. It's my downfall, I'm afraid. I'm a born language bitch, as I describe it, and I have to remember that most people don't find that kind of discussion productive or enjoyable. Lest that sound as if I gave in above just to put an end to this discussion, I'll say that I did indeed finally realize that someone like Dr. King, who fights for the rights of an entire group without regard to the personal costs that fight entails, is certainly fairly described as "selfless." Asserting otherwise wasn't one of my smarter moments. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-06T23:43:39-06:00
ID
141703
Comment

Tim, I'd be hard pressed to find anything you've posted in this thread that I wouldn't characterize as smart, but thanks. And I agree with C.W.; you sound plenty selfless to me! Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-06T23:53:51-06:00
ID
141704
Comment

Thanks, Tom. I'll buy you a beer when I get to Jackson in October. :-D

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-07T01:35:02-06:00
ID
141705
Comment

C.W. ... a good "person" in the governor's office would be even better (rather than a good man). Anyway, I'm wondering how the families of S,C&G are feeling these days about the Philadelphia story? I did notice in the coverage of the trial an interesting parsing of Rita Bender's comments depending upon the news source. For the record, here are some AP quotes: Rita Bender quotes from AP "I hope that this conviction helps to shed some light on what happened in this state," the petite, white-haired widow said. "Yet, there is something else that needs to be said. "The fact that some members of that jury could have sat through that testimony, and could not bring themselves to acknowledge that these were murders, committed with malice, indicates that there are still people, unfortunately, among you who choose to look aside and choose to not see the truth. "And that means that there's still a lot more yet to be done." Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T10:56:49-06:00
ID
141706
Comment

"The BEST of Men and the WORST of Men" I question the dichotomy that Sugg provides since I've been researching many of Mississippi's murders - Killen is by no means the "worst." And Molpus is not the "best" - I'm sure that even Mr. Molpus would admit to this, as nice of a guy that he is. One of the grimmest stories I've run into is about two ladies from Charleston, Birdia Keglar and Adelina Hamlet, both NAACP members, who were run off the road coming home from Jackson in 1966, the same day that Vernon Dahmer's home was bombed and the same day the Klan hearings were going on in Washington, D. C. The car was never given back to the owner, Birdia was decapitated, Adelena had both arms "cleanly severed" from her body. The other men in the car, after leaving the Mound Bayou hospital where one was threatened if he talked about the "accident," went crazy afterwards and would rarely talk ever again. They both died early deaths. There was no investigation. Except that Birdia's son, Sonny Boy, spent three months trying to learn from the U. S. Justice Department what happened to his mother. He was arrested in Charleston, turned loose, and that night died in a house fire; he couldn't get out of the house because he'd been hit on the head. When are all of these murders going to be investigated? If they are, will ALL off those involved be pulled in? I'm beginning to understand the complicities of Mississippi's murdering soul(s). I'm posting new murders every day on Murders Around Mississippi. Be sure to read about the veteran who in 1971 was killed in Sumner by a "night marshall" after he kicked a coke machine. No investigation, no autopsy, no charges, no trial, no kidding. Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T11:49:02-06:00
ID
141707
Comment

Susan, I also think that making this a game of "extremes" feeds into the notion that the state, and its people who went along with atrocities, the Citizens Council that boycotted and harassed white folks who defended civil rights, the Sovereignty Commission that fed license plate numbers to the Klan, and so on, do not share the responsibility. It is always a danger to try to blame racist on a handful of rednecks. It is also a mistake to try to make it sound like one white hero has saved us from ourselves. It takes a village, as it were, although I agree that Dick is a mighty fine leader, model and mentor. He's certainly one of my personal heroes.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T12:02:07-06:00
ID
141708
Comment

"I hope that this conviction helps to shed some light on what happened in this state," the petite, white-haired widow said. "Yet, there is something else that needs to be said. "The fact that some members of that jury could have sat through that testimony, and could not bring themselves to acknowledge that these were murders, committed with malice, indicates that there are still people, unfortunately, among you who choose to look aside and choose to not see the truth. "And that means that there's still a lot more yet to be done." I don't agree with that at all. For one thing, it wasn't the jury's job to decide whether these were murders; it was their job to decide whether Killen murdered the three men according to the law. More specifically, it was their job to decide whether the evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Killen murdered them. They did their job and decided that the evidence did not prove that. Of course they did not decide that Killen was innocent of murder; they decided that on the evidence presented at the trial, he was not guilty of murder under Mississippi law beyond a reasonable doubt. Bender's comments make it sound as if she thinks the jury should have looked at what happened (which was clearly murder), recoiled from it, and convicted Killen on that basis. That is emphatically not the jury's job. Isn't she a lawyer? Because what I've just written is hornbook. And I have to say it's pretty damn low to imply that some members of the jury were racist because they carried out their duties under the law. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-07T12:03:15-06:00
ID
141709
Comment

You're right, Tim. I disagree, too. The jury made the decision based on the evidence they were given. I sat in the courtroom for most of it. Based on what I heard, I would not have returned a murder verdict based on the law, and everyone knows my feelings on the case. See our story this issue about the reasons for the verdict. And read the juror's L.A. Times piece, linked there. The real question is whether the state and D.A. presented the best possible case to the jury. I don't believe they did. I said throughout the trial that the best thing the prosecution had going for it was the defense. Neither were impressive (other than Duncan's closing statement).

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T12:07:49-06:00
ID
141710
Comment

Okay, so who is going to go after the others? So far, I haven't heard a peep. All I've seen is backslapping because "we got our man." Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T12:07:56-06:00
ID
141711
Comment

Susan, one caution: Don't assume nothing is happening on that front because no one is blogging about how it happens. There are ways to do things and ways not to.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T12:08:57-06:00
ID
141712
Comment

The real question is whether the state and D.A. presented the best possible case to the jury. I don't believe they did. That's the impression I've gotten, too (from way over here). That sucks, but it's not the jury's job to correct that situation. They can only work from the evidence they're shown; otherwise they'd be violating their oaths and endangering the foundations of the (imperfect, but still somewhat decent) justice system in the US. (Donna, I'll ask again: Did you get my E-mail?) Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-07T12:12:51-06:00
ID
141713
Comment

The trouble is, Birdia Keglar's (Adlema Hamlet's, and James Keglar's) stories are not just one. They are one of many. It seems like whenever Mississippians are confronted with the realities of what has gone on here, and goes on, they come up with so many excuses. You have to know the truth before you can fix the problem. I've found hundreds of these murders on my own, so where are Mississippi's journalists? It is really easy to keep reporting on the stories that have already been reported. What about the other stories? How about Daisy Savage and her grandson who were stoned to death in Hollandale in the 1970s? Aaron Henry said it best when he told the Sunflower (tri county) district attorney that it was getting hard to keep people from showing extreme anger as all of the murders are covered up and little is ever done. Believe me, I can still name more. Susan Klopfer I question an editor who has to fight her readers who question what is being written in her publication. Maybe it is time to come out of this closed society and take a look around. James Silver really did have it right.

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T12:18:53-06:00
ID
141714
Comment

P. S. I don't see that discussing horrific Mississippi history (that is rarely reported or written about) is a "game" and I do take offense at that comment, Donna.

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T12:29:18-06:00
ID
141715
Comment

Re: "ways to do things and ways not to do" from the June 28, 2005 St. Louis Post-Dispatch ...80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of manslaughter in the killing of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964. It was only this year that Mississippi could summon the nerve to indict Killen... Sorry, Donna, but I think that Mississippi needs to start taking a look at how things are done elsewhere. The closed box is not working anymore - never did. Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T12:38:06-06:00
ID
141716
Comment

I question an editor who has to fight her readers who question what is being written in her publication Huh, Susan? I do even know what you're offended about. You might have misunderstood my comment above, being that it was cryptic. I happen to know that work is being done about other cases that could be harmed by blogging about it before the work is complete. That's all I'm going to say right now. I'm sorry if that somehow offends you. And if you think all we're doing here is "backslapping" because we've got our man, well, I'll have to respectfully dissent.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T12:47:23-06:00
ID
141717
Comment

I don't remember getting your e-mail, Tim. You might resend it. I'm swamped with e-mail and can't manage it all.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T12:48:53-06:00
ID
141718
Comment

Well, I don't hear of or see a lot going on (per the St. Louis Post dispatch comment). You would really have to convince me that anyone really cares about murder of blacks in Mississippi. So far, the record does not hold. I believe it is your duty to report aggressively rather than cover up or protect the people who are doing the "supposed" investigations (assuming they even are). The press is supposed to represent the people. So are you? 'Whose side are you on, boys?" "Whose side are you on?" Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T12:56:11-06:00
ID
141719
Comment

Donna, how do you quote Sugg approvingly ("another money quote") "What must really gall Edgar Ray Killen is that it wasn't the FBI that finally nailed him. It wasn't the holier-than-thou reporters from the liberal New York Times. And it certainly wasn't those bugaboos of yesteryear, the "outside agitators," who thundered the guilty verdicts.No, it was his hometown, his own neighbors. The prosecutors were Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, from the nearby town of Houston, and the local district attorney, Mark Duncan. The 12 jurors were all bedrock Philadelphians, nine white and three black. And while the jurors split evenly at first on whether to convict Killen of murder or manslaughter, not one felt he was innocent." And then also acknowledge the sad fact that: "The real question is whether the state and D.A. presented the best possible case to the jury. I don't believe they did." There is nothing noble about about Hood and Ducan going it alone and not bothering to seek evidence from the DOJ. There is nothing noble about Hood's not requesting a special prosecutor, as has been done in most of the other civil rights era murder cases. Before the trial there were reports of new witnesses and new evidence that were never used in the trial. Post trial there have been numerous statements from the juror in the LA Times article and elsewhere that the evidence presented was insufficient for a murder conviction. From my outsider's vantage point, it looks a lot like Hood and Duncan were hoping that the story about Philadelphia would be precisely the one that Sugg has now told. It would have been a lot better if Hood and Duncan could have admitted that outsiders could help make the case that it should have been the prosecution's business to make. The successes of Freedom Summer, the MFDP, etc., were, after all, won through the teamwork of courageous local people and brave outsiders. Back then it was about building power among oppressed people and breaking open the closed society and allowing the world to see the state's dirty secrets. The locals who did civil rights work were ubelieveably brave, since they had to live with reprisals and ostracism after the outside agitators left; those Mississippians understood that unless things were opened up, change would not happen. Same is true now. (p.s. what's the trick for using html in the comments for links and quotes? <> and [] do not seem to work.)

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-07T13:00:32-06:00
ID
141720
Comment

Ben, most people seem to use italics for quotes from previous posts (that's what I do). You can get italics like this: (i)This is in italics.(/i) Replace the parentheses with square brackets []. That results in this: This is in italics. You can do links like this: (url=http://www.kynerd.nu)This is my home page.(/url) Again, replace the parentheses with square brackets. That results in this: This is my home page. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-07T13:09:58-06:00
ID
141721
Comment

Tim, thanks. I was trying the more usual and

and tags. Now I know how it's done over here...

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-07T13:18:31-06:00
ID
141722
Comment

The sound of meat a'fryin'" What is going to be interesting next, is watching the Emmett Till fiasco. The District Attorney for the tri-counties decided not to use assistance from the DOJ, either, but to go it alone with no additional resources. Is this really the way to learn more about what really happened? Or a way to come up with excuses so that no real justice is done? The discussions and disagreements simply cannot end until the facts are made clear for all to see. (Not just for the ears of privileged politicians and fat cat journalists.) It is the responsibility of the citizens and of the press to keep the information flowing and to demand justice. Unfortunately, it's beginning to remind me more and more of the Ozarks where the saying goes "The only thing you won't hear in the Ozarks is the truth - and the sound of meat a'fryin'." (circa the Great Depression) Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T13:27:59-06:00
ID
141723
Comment

I believe it is your duty to report aggressively rather than cover up or protect the people who are doing the "supposed" investigations (assuming they even are). I'm not covering up anything, Susan. And I assume going forward that you will not use my Web site to accuse me of something as serious as a "cover up." I'm not sure you're clear on this, but there is a difference between blogging and reporting. I do both, but they are not interchangeable. If you post everything you're doing on the reporting end on a blog as you go, it can get in the way of the overall goal. It is the responsibility of the citizens and of the press to keep the information flowing and to demand justice. Agreed. Ben, a "money quote" doesn't mean you approve of something. It means it's interesting, in blogspeak, and can provoke further discussion. I often post "money quotes" from folks like Trent Lott, and I don't agree with that dude often. I agree with the need for DOJ help in these cases, at least in theory, providing that the current Justice Department will be good help. I found the Hood/Duncan case very disappointing, and some recent experience tells me that the feds aren't as on top of things as you'd hope. And, no, I'm not going to explain what I mean by that, yet.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T13:49:04-06:00
ID
141724
Comment

C.W., What rubs me wrong way about the Killen/Molpus comparison is that it says Mississippi racism boils down to people like Edgar Ray Killen and will only be brought to an end by great leaders like Dick Molpus. As Donna noted, Philadelphia and Mississippi's problems emanate from more powerful and more moneyed sources than Killen. And there are, indeed, many other white Mississippians who oppose white supremacism. And it's not only my contemporaries whom I enjoy reading here. Anyone see the fantastic piece by Ed Whitfield about his visit to Philadelphia on the last day of the trial? I got to sit next to James Adams in the courtroom . . .Adams is a 66-year-old white Mississippian who grew up in a rural area near Jackson, the state capital. His family was so poor that he said he had never had electricity or indoor plumbing until after he moved away from home as a young adult. Adams was glad that there was finally a prosecution for the 41-year-old murders. ìI knew it was wrong,î he confided in me, ìbut I was too much of a coward to say or do anything about it at the time.î Adams told me about his family being tenant farmers, renting and working the land, while growing up across the road from a wealthy black man who owned his own land. ìIf it hadnít been for the money he loaned my daddy sometimes, I donít know how we would have made it.î I asked him if the Klan had ever approached him and he told me it had not. ìMy daddy hated those types,î he said. It is well worth it to go read the rest. The powers in the state cannot delegate their anti-racism to Dick Molpus. They needed, for example, to say we will honor the request of Ben Chaney, as we had promised, and keep Haley Barbour off the Coliseum stage. Why is politeness to Barbour more important than the needs of the families who lost loved ones to Barbour's racist compatriots? Barbour did not feel compelled to be at the Philadelphia Coliseum (nor did the Pickerings!); it was good PR, part of the 21st century Southern Strategy that silences and co-opts real discussions of race issues while smiling racists officiate. Having Barbour present also sent the message to people like Mr. Adams that the racists are still in charge. Saying no to the racists stops the likes of Mr. Adams from being marginalized.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-07T14:08:04-06:00
ID
141725
Comment

To understand a little more about Hood and Duncan's lackluster performance, I invite people to read something from the Arkansas Delta Peace and Justice Center, which I posted on my blog back in March. Here's an excerpt: Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood stated that he and District Attorney Mark Duncan "presented every living, potential defendant to the grand jury for their consideration." How long did they present evidence on the at least nine other living potential defendants? 5 minutes? 15 minutes? An hour? It could not have been long since it appears the grand jury probably heard evidence for only one day or less. There is substantial evidence on a number of people. Why is only Edgar Ray Killen being prosecuted? Read the rest.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-07T14:19:15-06:00
ID
141726
Comment

Ben, I agree with most of what you said, so no need to rehash. Clearly, the same person can admire Dick Molpus and his efforts and know that it's not enoughóyou don't have to choose sides on that. Most people I know educated on the history, black and white, in Mississippi believe that same thing. It's truly not either-or, and attempts to overblow that tend to be hyperbole not based on fact. Now, the appearance of Barbour at the coliseum I differ on a bit. With due respect, I find many of the attacks on "the powers" for allowing Barbour on the stage to be shortsighted and a bit simplistic. I've written already that I believe it was important for many of us, including many of us who are fighting the southern strategy on the ground in Mississippi to try to help the state save itself from itself, to listen to Molpus and the other powerful speakers that day say very vital things and challenge the old order WITH BARBOUR SITTING THERE, looking red-faced and out of place. And it is meaningful that Barbour's (and Pickering's) request to be there marked a change in the political winds, albeit small and stumblingóand one that is markedly different from Lott and Cochran's refusal to sign the lynching apology. It's a change we have to seize on moving forward. There are different ways to skin a catfish, and those of us living and working here in Mississippi to change the political "wisdom" (cough, sputter) need red-faced symbols such as these moving forward. Mind you, that gives absolutely no credit to BarbouróI believe he is a political machine and only came that day because he feels the yazoo clay shifting a tad under his feet. It's that crack we have to march into with every force we can gather and widen the gap and, thus, crack the strategy. To me, continuing to complain about Barbour's presence, and the people who "allowed" him to be there, is an utter waste of time and energy, although no harm in bringing it up as a discussion point. But it sure doesn't make sense to use that as a wedge issue between people who are on the same side, or who can be. That's small-picture to me, and I don't have time for it. I don't see room for sowing division in the struggle, although we certainly need many different viewpoints expressed. Either-or never works, and I question anyone, no matter where he or she stands, who is trying to do that.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T14:38:24-06:00
ID
141727
Comment

As for the prosecution's case, I should add that it was clearly a difficult case to get evidence for, and I also don't find the arguments that they purposefully overlooked certain evidence convincing without evidence showing that to be true, which no one has provided to me. I also can see how it would be hard to bring them all up on charges at this stage. HOWEVER, listening in the courtroom, it struck me that they had about as much evidence on Billy Wayne Posey as on Killen, and he was on the scene. At the least, I wish they would have brought him up on charges to get him to flip on Killen for murder, although perhaps I've watched too much "Law & Order." ;-) So, yes, I believe there is more to be done, and I don't think that an obsession with Barbour in 2004 will get it done. I'm much rather see obsession with Barbour in 2005 on issues like Medicaid, education and other vital issues that affect black Mississippians (and white ones) every single day.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T14:38:58-06:00
ID
141728
Comment

Donna, I agree that the current DOJ has HUGE problems is highly suspect. Still the help should have been pursued. It would be one thing if Hood and Duncan pursued the help and then went on record to point their fingers at DOJ obstructions. However, Hood and Duncan made announcements, reported in the press, that that they would ask for help. Then as the trial rolled around, they had not pursued the help and the role of the DOJ just dropped out of the picture. What is that about??

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-07T14:45:59-06:00
ID
141729
Comment

I can agree with that, Ben. They should have pursued the help, but it is possible they knew something we don't about how good that help was going to be as well.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T14:47:47-06:00
ID
141730
Comment

Tim, you're on. :P Ben, I think your questions are good ones. The sense may be that unless the victims are high-profile, state prosecutors are loathe to go after these murders. That needs to change. I've linked to your blog on my site; if there's anything else I can do, please holler. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-07T14:52:48-06:00
ID
141731
Comment

Donna, with all due respect, I want to push the point about Barbour just a little further before I let it rest. What you say about Barbour is persuasive, but only to a point. The limitation is this: it suggests that the feeling you and others get from seeing Barbour red-faced and out of place is more important than the feeling Ben Chaney gets from seeing Barbour there. That's who keeps complaining, right? Remember, Ben Chaney became an outsider because his mother had to flee to NY after she continued to stand up to the whtie supremacists after her son was murdered. Her house in Meridian was fired upon, etc. Racial reconciliation has to put the feelings of the Blacks who were vicitms first and the whites who are ashamed of racism second. I think it's as simple as that. I understand that you are there on the ground and that I have things to learn from you and others here. I would add that I do not know of public forums in Boston, where I live, that are like this one, with people openly talking about race issues, across racial linesóand Boston, as you probably know, is a profoundly segregated city with a host of its own problems. Please understand, in turn, my own family's participation in the Southern Freedom Movement left scars that travel down into my generation and into the generation of my son and my nieces and nephew. I'm not on the ground with you, but I'm adding my voice to the mix for a reason.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-07T15:49:51-06:00
ID
141732
Comment

Tom, thanks. What's the link for your webiste, so I can check it out? Donna, I think where I differ on the DOJ thing is that I see no reason to give Hood and Duncan the benefit of the doubt. They have not earned it in my eyes. I need more public demonstrations of their commitment to truth and justice to think otherwise.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-07T15:53:26-06:00
ID
141733
Comment

Donna - This is a straight question, so don't get in an uproar ("...I assume going forward that you will not use my Web site to accuse me of something as serious as a "cover up.") Is it not the public's right to know? Isn't this your duty as a professional journalist/publisher to aid the public in having all of the information? How does being a "blogger" fit into this? Or change what you owe your profession? Would a physician give correct information to her patients but then decide that "anything goes" on a blog? Mississippi was harmed greatly in past years partly because it had very few ethical journalists who understood their roles. And if they did, they had to buck the system. Today, there are professional journalistic organizations that believe Mississippi journalists should still be taken to task for what occurred way back then. Thank God for Hodding Carter and the few others who had gumption, couraqe and a sense of what a true journalist owes the public. Hodding Carter saw himself as a journalist through and through, 24/7. He didn't ever "take off the hat." Bless him. Until things really change in this state, it will continue to stay on the bottom of the heap with respect to education, infant mortality rates, unwanted pregnancy, venereal disease... One way to bring on change is to allow open dissent. This seems to be very hard for you to do but it is so important. I think this Southern "polite" thing is about denial. If one smiles then they apparently don't have to show any responsibility (like Barbour). How offensive that must have been to Ben Chaney to have his brother's memorial service ruined by the presence of a noted racist. Why in the world would anyone invite him in the first place. Right now, I'm hearing you say "We've already covered that " or "Your accusing me of..." Get off it, Donna, and start listening rather than reacting. To have invited Haley Barbour anywhere is an afront to mankind. Even when I wasn't living here, I heard about his infamous Headstart remark. It is amazing that someone like that could be elected dog catcher. Susan Klopfer Please cut the threats. I did not accuse you of a cover-up.

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T16:12:54-06:00
ID
141734
Comment

Susan, think what you want of me, but stop lecturing me because you don't agree with everything I say. And lose the condescension; I'm not "in an uproar." I'm listening to you, and I'm telling you that you are going too far by delving into your accusations of cover-ups and the like. And I certainly didn't threaten you; that's silly. But this blog is not for you to make accusations of other individuals, and I do have the power to ask you to depart if you're trolling for a fight, which I'm not going to have with you here or elsewhere. If you are going to bring this kind of tone to your posts, please return to your own blog and have at it there. This blog is not for that; it is for civil discussion, which you had offered a whole lot of until you misunderstood my post from earlier. I respectfully suggest that you try listening closer as well. I will if you will. ;-) Bottom line re this topic: I am not telling you what stories I and other journalists are working on, and the details of them, until they are ready for publication. That is my duty as a professional journalist. And it is up to me to decide what to blog about on my site, and I am really sorry if that doesn't sit well with you. I'm really not trying to fight with you, so I suggest you just agree to disagree and continue discussing important topics. You've added much to the discussion to date, including vital information about old cases. By the way, Hodding Carter is one of my heroes as well, and his son is one of my mentors now. I'm glad you bring him up. And it's interesting because he, too, was often accused of not doing enough for the civil rights movement because he tried to encourage people to get along and work together, rather than be separated by suspicion.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T16:56:45-06:00
ID
141735
Comment

t suggests that the feeling you and others get from seeing Barbour red-faced and out of place is more important than the feeling Ben Chaney gets from seeing Barbour there. That's who keeps complaining, right? No, it doesn't suggest that actually. Ben and I are friends, and are pretty much on the same page these days about what happens next in all this. I understood his frustration last year and have told him that, but I also see that positive efforts can by stymied by the obsession with Barbour on the dais. I've also had heart-to-heart discussions about this with Dave Dennis. I am not downplaying the frustration in any way by saying that there is more to consider. I purposefully did not go into the church last year, although I could have as media fairly easily in order to keep seats for others, and I hated seeing two filmmakers from NY up on the podium on the TV cameras. I couldn't believe they would take seats that should have belonged to others from the movement, whom I consider heroes. So the point is that I understand all that frustration, and respect it, but I also believe that too much anger over it, especially without even considering the positive aspects as I discuss, is shortsighted and, ultimately, destructive. Constructive anger is great, though, and I see a lot of that on the ground here, especially with what's been going on in the Legislature here to roll back so many gains. That's where so much of our focus must be, and on breaking apart that southern strategy that gets poor whites to vote with corporate Republicans even though it doesn't serve their interests. Your voice is most welcome, Ben, and I understand the scars. I have made a number of friends with people in the movement who live here and in other places. But please understand that the voices here, and the young ones, are also needed, even if they don't agree with yours on every point or strategy. I think you do, but not everyone does get that. Ben (Chaney) certainly does; he's wonderful about the need for us all to work together, especially to bring young people into the current movement. I admire his mixture of "anger" and positive efforts to build coalitions.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T17:06:50-06:00
ID
141736
Comment

BTW, just to set the record straight, it is my understanding that Mr. Barbour and Rep. Pickering called and asked to be included. They did not attend the memorial service at the church that has been going on for many years. There was a serious space issue at the church because many people came for the big, media-soaked 40th anniversary who usually do not attend. The year before, it was much easier to get inside and no fights over who was going to be inside, as I recall. I found it very sad to realize that there was a big fight going on at and outside Mount Zion last year, but I realized while standing there that, in some ways, this was what the three men died for: the freedom to agree, disagree, dissent, congregate in such a way with people of all races. That kind of made it all OK for me that day. It felt like I was truly observing the messy details of democracy up close and personal, and it's not always comfortable. I don't mind that you dissent with my views on issues, Susan; in fact, I welcome it. What I object to is you, or anyone, using this site to make unfounded accusations of cover-ups and the like, and to try to start fights based on personal tweaks. As I've said to others, I'm sorry that we do not run that kind of site, but we don't and that fact serves us very well and keeps the discussion civil for the most part. So I will continue to enforce that policy with any objections to it noted.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T17:15:17-06:00
ID
141737
Comment

Let me tell you (that's a pejorative you) about some more people murdered here. Cleve McDowell, a civil rights veteran, was murdered in 1997. He's the guy Ole Miss kicked out because he was carrying a gun for self protection. He was the only black on campus and had no protection whatsover. Students followed him home and shot guns at him. The "press" of Mississippi wrote a few stories about McDowell's murder covering the cops' reports and whatever was handed to them, and then let it die. I got his records (even though they're still being held under a gag order by the Sunflower District attorney which is truly surreal because I'm a really good journalist) and discovered he was probably shot in the back by two people count'em not one. I know this because I asked a forensic physician to take a look at the autopsy that the judge and DA were trying to withhold. The newspaper stories did a fine job of smearing McDowell's reputation (the city police chief said McDowell 'molested' the person who shot him which is impossible because that person was over the age of consent), but they did not cover the real story. All of his investigative records were "burned up" six months later. Then his best friend, another attorney helping him with a number of civil rights investigations they were undertaking on their own, was tortured and murdered in Alabama. (Of course, I always require myself to have two sources on such accusations). Cleve, telling his friends he would be killed next ... was. Coincidentally, he was killed the same week as the first batch of Sovereignty Commission files were released. This happened less than ten years ago and nothing has been done. Then you have old Jim Eastland who did a bang-up job of taking money for not growing cotton but allowed Delta children to starve to death, instead. The Sovereignty Commission files even show a link between Eastland and several major players in the Kennedy assassination. But no... We can't write about old Slick Jim. We've got to respect our late senator and name buildings and stuff after him. Well, here goes. Probably my last post because I feel the big stick coming down. Susan Klopfer Power to the real press! How about you? Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T17:38:04-06:00
ID
141738
Comment

Hi, Ben. You can visit my site at www.tomhead.net; not much there besides a blog (which always seems to settle on Pope Benedict XVI right now, for some reason), but I'll be adding more goodies as time goes on. Susan, you're going way too far here. Obviously you're passionate about these issues, but I've noticed in my antiracism/antisexism/antiheterosexism work that there is the temptation to be "the good one" who is always at other whites'/men's/straights' throats. Very important to do that when the racism, or sexism, or heterosexism is real. Very important not to do that when it isn't. Nobody who knows Donna Ladd could ever accuse her of not being committed enough on race issues. Save your powder for people who aren't your allies. As for Barbour's presence: I don't think he had any business there, and I wish he didn't show. But whether he should have been there or not, can we at least agree that the presence of the governor of Mississippi--regardless of who holds the office, be it Haley Barbour or the devil himself--can be seen, by good people, as a step forward? Because when the governor is politically obligated to attend, that's a pretty significant thing. Those of us who are trying to break down the ugly idolatries of this world--race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, disability status, the list goes on and on--are so used to busting idols, I think, that we spend way too much time turning our hammers against each other. Wish we didn't do that. Let's be gentle to those who will listen to gentle reason. There is a time and a place for hardball, but there are few things more depressing than watching a roomful of reasonable and humane activists tearing into each other like there's no tomorrow. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-07T17:41:48-06:00
ID
141739
Comment

Susan, if you can document all this stuff, I suspect JFP can actually be a vehicle for it. But you need to think like a journalist: Assert only what you can back up. (And it sounds to me like you can back up quite a bit, but you need to be more specific about your evidence, where it can be found, etc. People need to be able to verify your assertions if they're expected to move on them.) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-07T17:45:22-06:00
ID
141740
Comment

Susan, agreed that Jim Eastland was a weasel. Here is an excerpt from a JFP cover story written in March by one of our interns from Belhaven College about what stuff is named for in Mississippi: Resistance to Tyrannyí The ebullient Mississippi U.S. Sen. James Eastland has been a favorite honoree in the stateófrom Eastland Drive in Pearl to the James O. Eastland Federal Courthouse at 245 E. Capitol St. in Jackson to the James O. Eastland Law Library at Ole Miss. But even as blacks and whites alike file in and out of the buildings named for the late Doddsville plantation owner, history remembers the man as a strident racist and one of the most outspoken opponents of civil rights. He is renown for his statements concerning the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which declared school segregation to be unconstitutional. Eastland called Brown illegal and proclaimed that "resistance to tyranny is obedience to God." Eastland did not mince words when it came to his feelings about the races mingling. He testified to the U.S. Senate 10 days after the Brown decision came down: ìThe Southern institution of racial segregation or racial separation was the correct, self-evident truth which arose from the chaos and confusion of the Reconstruction period. Separation promotes racial harmony. It permits each race to follow its own pursuits, and its own civilization. Segregation is not discrimination. Ö Mr. President, it is the law of nature, it is the law of God, that every race has both the right and the duty to perpetuate itself. All free men have the right to associate exclusively with members of their own race, free from governmental interference, if they so desire.î Eastland also withdrew his son and daughter from the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington because one black child had been admitted into kindergarten there. Eastland, then the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, is also known for making deals with the Kennedys. For instance, in order to get President Kennedy to appoint the conservative judge Harold CoxóEastlandís roommate at Ole Missóto the federal district court, Eastland promised Robert Kennedy that he would help get Brown lawyer Thurgood Marshall a judgeship: "Tell your brother that if he will give me Harold Cox, I will give him the n*gger." Cox got that seat and, ironically, presided over the federal conspiracy trials in the Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner case, which led to federal prison time for some of the Klansmen. It is a particular irony that the name of a man who so opposed federal presence in Mississippi of any kind now adorns the federal courthouse building in Jackson.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T17:46:13-06:00
ID
141741
Comment

So how about Cleve? How about Birdia? Adelnia? Daisy Savage and her grandson? James Keglar? The list goes on. There are thousands of names. I don't think that I'm fighting the "good guys" when I speak out. And I don't think I'm going too far. I am a little angry about being called extreme. I think these murders are extreme. I also think that most Mississippians have been lied to throughout their lives. I haven't seen one history book, except for a black history book, that mentions most of the lynching and murders in this state. Reconcilliation is not going to come unless the truth is allowed. The truth can really hurt. Being nice to those who promote and support this activity today (i. e., politicians who attend CCC meetings) isn't something that I'm going to support. I don't see why I am being attacked and threatened when I'm just reacting to this Southern "niceness" that makes me sick. I do question those who "nicely" try to suppress others from speaking out. Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T17:52:18-06:00
ID
141742
Comment

Your objections noted, Susan. Thank you for all your input.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T17:54:12-06:00
ID
141743
Comment

I didn't see the earlier post stating that I can't back up what I say. I can. I have. I've written several books about this and they are completely documented. This sunday, I'll be interviewed once again on Pacifica Radio about what I've learned about the Sovereignty Commission and Mississippi. One has to talk to people, read oral histories, search archival materials, read books, read research articles to do this. Mississippians have not been told the truth. White academy education just isn't cutting it. The state archives are pretty empty. If one wants to view Eastland archives at Ole Miss, don't hold your breath. They are still not available. One of his cronies had to go through all of them first. The senior researcher told me that these files had been "cleaned out" before she got to them. I will be happy to provide documentation for anything that I write. Just ask rather than accuse. Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T17:58:06-06:00
ID
141744
Comment

Also, Susan, please remember to send your book for review when it's ready.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T17:58:58-06:00
ID
141745
Comment

Probably the biggest damage done to this state was when the Sovereignty Commission accepted money from Wycliffe Draper to fight the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and to fund the private white academies. Most of the money to fight the civil rights act came out of his pockets, not from Mississippians. And he was from NYC. He probably dropped the equivalent of 10-15 million. You can read all about him in "Scientific Racism" by scholar Bill Turner of Rutgers University. You can find the examples of money laundering right in the Sov Comm files. Let me know if you need the reference numbers. The checks, the stock transfers and everything are there. Mississippi journalists didn't report the story, but the Wall Street Journal did. susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T18:06:08-06:00
ID
141746
Comment

Okay, I do get a little excited. I'm a Yankee, afterall, with Southern heritage. I just really don't believe that any of you have been told the truth of your history. Your history is phenomenol. I just wish that you would learn it and embrace it rather than run from it. susan Even Shelby Foote needs to do some more reading before he writes about black soldiers in the Civil War.

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T18:12:50-06:00
ID
141747
Comment

Here's a link to a chapter that "follows the money" http://www.lulu.com/items/135000/135246/1/preview/Chapter_24_Follow_the_Money.doc From "Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited." Let me know what you think. Beat me up. I love criticism. IMHO That what makes us function at our peak. Susan

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T18:25:13-06:00
ID
141748
Comment

Sorry. I think you have to use this link and then select the Preview button. Susan http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T18:27:43-06:00
ID
141749
Comment

This is embarrassing. You have to go to http://lulu.com first and then do a search on Klopfer. The preview button is on the right side. It takes about six weeks to get books up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so its here until the ISBN gets attached. Anyway, this chapter has quite a bit about Draper and John Satterfield and CCFAF, the committee organized by Satterfield and others to fight the Civil Rights Act. Again, I'm sorry for the foul up and I hope to get your feedback - good and bad. Susan Klopfer The book is still in the revise mode.

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T18:38:02-06:00
ID
141750
Comment

Tom: As for Barbour's presence: I don't think he had any business there, and I wish he didn't show. But whether he should have been there or not, can we at least agree that the presence of the governor of Mississippi--regardless of who holds the office, be it Haley Barbour or the devil himself--can be seen, by good people, as a step forward? Because when the governor is politically obligated to attend, that's a pretty significant thing. It may not be in poetic format, but it is poetry nonetheless. FRAME IT, TOM!

Author
Philip
Date
2005-07-07T18:40:03-06:00
ID
141751
Comment

Susan, Who's publishing it? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-07T18:44:17-06:00
ID
141752
Comment

(And thanks for the kind words, Philip!)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-07T18:44:38-06:00
ID
141753
Comment

Okay, I do get a little excited. I'm a Yankee, afterall, with Southern heritage. We'll forgive you. I just really don't believe that any of you have been told the truth of your history. No question there. Many of us have had to seek it out for ourselves, and we're trying to do just that. And I couldn't agree more that our history is "phenomenol." And, should "you" be aimed at me, I assure you that I'm not running from anything. I will also add that you, too, are an exception. Most "yankees" define us by "Mississippi Burning," as tragic as that is. And they don't understand that "our" history is also "their" history. Thanks for the links. I'm deep in a story the next few days, but I will read it soon. I haven't read Turner's book but I definitely will. Thanks for the suggestion. And, by the way, Susan, I agree that criticism is good thingóif it's fair, not falsely assumptive and not delivered with a hammer. But we all make that mistake sometime and need a splash of cold water. I certainly do. So no grudge held. ;-) Best, Donna

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-07T18:51:59-06:00
ID
141754
Comment

Also, since I'll likely be a rare presence online starting tomorrow and for the next week or so -- let me tell you why I can be suspicious of passion. Two reasons: The French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. (Note: Though my numerous posts prove me somewhat hypocritical in this regard, it's also why I sometimes use the mental trick saying "the proper yardstick by which to measure the credibility of your thinking is by how android-like it is". Hypocrisy on my part? Yes, but it's still a good ideal to shoot for) French Revolution: Contrary to popular opinion, Louis XVI wasn't killed right at the beginning of the Revolution. Actually, he was merely forced to share power with a newly formed legislative assembly, which was a more or less even balance of moderates and conservatives (similar to a 19th century British Parliamant/Crown relationship). But eventually some idealist radicals (Jacobins), wanting to do away with all vestiges of royalty and aristocracy, seized control of the assembly and effectively plunged France into a brief but harrowing period of totalitarian dictatorship Robespierre's Committee for Public Saftey, the original "Reign of Terror". It was this dictatorship that killed Louis and Marie -- not to mention thousands of others "enemies of the state" (i.e. anybody less radical than they were). Fortunately, Robespierre was overthrown the next year by "conservative" elements (well, "conservative" compared to the ultra-radical faction of the Revolution, at least). Russian Revolution: Similar story to the French Revolution. Originally intended to severly curtail the Czar's rule and redistrubute land to the pesants, it quickly degenerated into Bolshevik rule. Not only were the Czar and his family killed off, but the entire Russian nobility was wiped out. Later, under Stalin, the prosperous middle class farmers (Kulkak) also were either killed off or forced into the Gulags. Even many peasants whom the Revolution was meant to help ended up on Stalin's crash-course industrialization projects, which was every bit as brutal as plantation slavery -- and perhaps even exceeding it in some cases. So, even though passion is good, perhaps even necessary -- it can easily lead to tragic results.

Author
Philip
Date
2005-07-07T19:02:20-06:00
ID
141755
Comment

Tom. I am publshing this book myself. When I worked for Simon and Schuster (Prentice-Hall Computer Books) as an acquisitions and development editor, the book I wrote for them (Abort! Retry! Fail! The DOS Answer Book) made it to an alternate selection for the Book of the Month Club and ... I made very little money. The trend today is to hire your own editors (I hired three, copy, history and development) and do it yourself if you want to make any money. If you know what you are doing, of course. Since I have an MBA, I'm very oriented to making money when I put two years into a project like this. Right now, I'm publishing it in a variety of formats -- cd, dvd, soft copy, perhaps hard copy, e-book and maybe books on tape to get the biggest return by offering these multiple formats. In the old days of publishing, you put out a book in one format at a time. Say that the hardback went out first, then the paperback might go out a year later. Additionally, the book will soon be going out in Spanish, and then Russian and Chinese. I have a friend in Vlodovostok who will rep it over there. I can never see a time that I would turn this book over to a large publisher. It takes a lot of money to do the required PR and advertising (which the author must do, not the publisher). Plus the royalties are paid on net, not gross, and they are typically very low unless you are Hillary Clinton. Then you get a big upfont check before any books sell. Basically, if you do a good job of self publishing, you should make the same profits on a sale of 800 books that you would with a publisher and 4,000 books (or even more, depending on the royalty you assign and they assign). I teach classes in book publishing so I tend, once again, to get excited about the topic. Susan Klopfer, MBA

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T19:08:03-06:00
ID
141756
Comment

Susan, A friend of mine runs the SmallPress Blog, which you may find useful. I don't know if I'd describe self-publishing as the trend (it seems to have been much bigger in the 1970s than it is now), but you certainly do get a bigger cut of the money as author if you do a book that way. The problem, as you no doubt know given your history with S&S, is marketing and distribution--plus the vast amounts of time spent on things like sales and bookkeeping, not to mention typesetting, cover design, etc. I know my publishers make a lot more money off my books than I do--but that covers overhead and staff, and I think that, generally speaking, I get a fair cut of the loot as author in a traditional publishing venture, especially since I'm interested in writing and promoting books but otherwise don't really want to be on the business end of things. If I self-published anything but an ebook or POD project, I suspect most of my books would end up gathering dust in my garage. (You pointed out that you make as much money on 800 copies of a self-published book as you do on 4,000 copies of a traditionally published book. This is true. But I'd rather sell 4,000 copies of a traditionally published book than 800 copies of a self-published book!) For my first co-author, John Bear, self-publishing was lucrative; he self-publlished his book and sold 200,000 copies of it. I also have very high hopes for my sometimes co-author Thomas Nixon, who is about to self-publish a book on inexpensive degrees. But most stories of self-published authors I've heard are not very encouraging. It's a tough row to hoe. I wish you the best of luck. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-07T19:32:51-06:00
ID
141757
Comment

What rubs me wrong way about the Killen/Molpus comparison is that it says Mississippi racism boils down to people like Edgar Ray Killen and will only be brought to an end by great leaders like Dick Molpus. I don't know that I would go quite that far, Ben, but leaving it all up to the "white folks," even journalistically, ain't gonna cut it either, so we're close to being on the same page. I'm not upset with Mr. Suggs, however; I would just have liked a different slant to the story and I think it's unfortunate that Mr. Dearman made that particular statement to Mr. Suggs and that he ran with it. Actually, though, had I known what a fuss this was going to cause, I might have just communicated that to Mr. Suggs (even though I don't know him personally) rather than posting it on this blog, because I think he's got his heart in the right place. Tom's right about saving our powder for the people who deserve it most. (sorry Tom, I know that's not exactly what you said, but I don't have time to search it out again, and that's the gist of what I remember) I did read the piece by Ed Whitfield and it is very good. He has a fresh angle on things, especially re retribution vs Truth and Reconciliation. Having Barbour present also sent the message to people like Mr. Adams that the racists are still in charge. He is in charge, unfortunately. He was elected to the office. Not by me, but obviously by someone. Although I've heard a number of people, including Republicans, regretting their vote(s) for Barbour in the last few months. As far as Barbour goes, here's my thoughts on it, for what they are worth. I missed my turn last year (and was nearly in Grenada before I realized it). I was therefore quite late and thankfully missed Barbour's speech. I had no idea that Barbour was there until I thought I heard one of the other speakers refer to him and gesture behind to the people sitting on the stage. I was peering, looking to see if that was him (from high in the bleachers at the Coliseum), but still wasn't sure. I couldn't believe he was actually there, so I leaned to the older gentleman closest to me and asked - and he confirmed it. We had rather a long discussion about it - both of us were stunned that Barbour was there. I deeply sympathize with the feelings of Ben Chaney and the other surviving family members of the three slain men on that subject. Nonetheless, I thought about it at the church (where I stood against the wall in an anteroom watching the service on TV) and on the way home, and finally realized that it was likely a good thing. After committing himself publicly to a pursuit of justice in this case, it would be a major embarassment to him to back out or try to put any stumbling blocks in the way, no matter who pushed him toward doing something like that. In the long run, it was for the best (reminds me of something else along that line, but that's another post). I heard later that he invited himself, and that was stunning, too in a way, but not all that surprising once I thought about it. I hadn't considered the angle Donna presented before now, but she has a very good point. On mulling it a bit, I believe she's right.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-07T21:28:01-06:00
ID
141758
Comment

Tom: Much of what has been written about Mississippi is about Jackson and not the Delta. And lots of the early history written about the entire state is just plain wrong. In the Delta, much of "history" has been heavily influenced by wealthy planters who wanted to look good for posterity. A good example is the reporting of the Friars Point massacre of 1890. Or the Minter City massacre of over 100 men, women and children in the 1920s. I wanted to write about the Africa and New Africa settlements in the Great Swamp of the Delta. I wanted to write about the abolitionist movement and the Delta planters who sent freed slaves to Liberia. I just did not have the patience to fight over these kinds of issues with an editor who knows nothing about black history or the Delta (and thinks they do). Instead, I hired Margaret Block who was in the movement in the Delta and who has taught black history at San Francisco State University; she served as the history editor for the project. Because of her comments I spent more time writing about Diane Nash and her influence on young SCLC workers who followed her into SNCC, for instance. Or on Amzie Moore, one of Mississippi's early leaders from Cleveland who worked closely with Dr. T. R. M. Howard of Mound Bayou to organize blacks well before SNCC and other groups came into Mississippi. The Mississippi story is about people like Joe Pullen and Mae Bertha Carter of Drew. It is about the raids on Drew's juke joints a week after Joe Pullen's shoot-out that sent the musicians packing to Chicago. A big publisher, however, would require more time spent on the "Stokely Carmichael's" of the movement and real history, the fun stuff, would be lost. Did you know that one of the most famous black spies in the Civil War came from Mississippi? His name was John Scobel and he worked for Pinkerton. Who cares? I do, and that's why I kept control of this project. I will easily sell 4,000 books - in fact sales goals are much higher. But my other more important goal is to put out the very best history of this region and I believe that I have. I wanted to cover a greater time period because the civil rights movement is certainly not limited to 1955 to 1964. But most books on it are. My book starts before the Revolutionary War and ends with Killen going to prison. Did you know that Rheinhold Nieber helped develop a successful collective farm in Drew? Have you read about the Brooks farm? Do you know that "two-headed" doctors still practice in the Delta. This is the neat stuff of history and I sure didn't want to have to negotiate with an editor who I don't know or trust. (And can you imagine that editor wanting to work with me? :<( I liked John Dittmer's book, but found it too narrow of a focus in time; and he left out the COINTELPRO operations, stories like McDowell and Keglar, Wycliff Draper and the money laundering. Or Erle Johnston taking home juicy Sovereignty Commission records to hide? dittmer did write a little about Camp Van Dorn but overall, his book was too cautious, I felt. He didn't even look at Sovereignty Commission documents. So I'll take my approach any day - especially since I don't have to write from a University. Talk about pressure to write a politically correct history book! Susan Klopfer I have never been impressed with John Bear. That must have been a horrible experience for you.

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T21:42:18-06:00
ID
141759
Comment

Among the most famous self-published authors are: Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn JohnGrisham:A Time to Kill Richard Bolles: What Color is Your Parachute? L. Ron Hubbard: Dianetics Irma Rombauer: The Joy of Cooking Richard Nixon: Real Peace and James Redfield: The Celestine Prophecy. Hmmm. Looks pretty good to me. Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T21:59:54-06:00
ID
141760
Comment

Dittmer's book was published in 1994; the Sovereignty Commission files were not unsealed until 1998.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-07T22:02:39-06:00
ID
141761
Comment

Susan, I'd be very interested in knowing what you have against John Bear. He's a wonderful guy, and I owe both my college experience and my writing career to him and to his daughter. But then your last sigline was a dig on Shelby Foote, and I think John would be tickled to find that he's in such august company. Might send him a link to this thread. I know very few people who have dealt with John and don't like him. Most of his vocal critics are folks who either bought fake degrees and were "outed" by the directories of degree mills in his book, or were somehow involved in the kinds of degree mills that he helped shut down during his work with the FBI. And yes, I'm familiar with the "they laughed at Einstein" list of self-published authors. I'm aware that it can work out. Maybe you can make it work out. I'm just saying that it's not some new thing that authors have just discovered that usually works better than traditional publishing, which is why the aforementioned John Grisham and James Redfield aren't self-publishing now. Truth is that self-publishing endeavors usually tank because most authors are not competent to run their own publishing empires. Maybe you are; you have an MBA, and an MBA from a real school at that. I'm just saying that it's not something I recommend to most aspiring authors because it rarely turns out well. If you feel like you can make your book work, go for it. If you're really good, maybe you'll end up joining John in the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame. I don't like your tone, Susan. You may have the right opinions on civil rights, and I hope your book does well (we desperately need something like a People's History of Mississippi), but you just don't strike me as a very nice person. I wish you well. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-07T22:44:50-06:00
ID
141762
Comment

(John's degree mill directories, BTW, typically list only the names of the schools--not their contact information. They're primarily used by human resources personnel.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-07T22:46:24-06:00
ID
141763
Comment

"As I said to C.W., I agree that that's a problem (the Civil Rights Movement story being told by whites)." So what about Howard Zinn? John Dittmer? they can't write about the civil rights movement? Does your theory hold true for science as well? (Only white scientists can write about Jonas Salk's research?) So only Presbyterians can write about Presbyterian theology? Gays about gay history? Only blacks about Booker T. Washington or Marcus Garvey? I don't think you would have many academics on your side. :>) Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T23:08:22-06:00
ID
141764
Comment

Ok, I guess I'm not done yet. I'll agree with you, Donna, that this is a disagreement about strategy. My opposition to Barbour's appearance is not my frustration and anger guiding my political thinkingóthough Barbour makes my plenty angry. At present the Southern Strategy does not involve overt pandering to hardcore racistsólike Reagan did at the Neshoba County Fair in 1980. Here's what it involves instead: ï remove race from the the public vocabulary. ï create a permissive atmosphere for institutional and individual acts of racism. ï promote policies that make life for people of color and low income people much worse. ï create illusions of equality, such as George Bush's multi cultural cabinet. ï put racists in charge of ending racism. And it's the last point that brings me back to Haley Barbour. I believe that it is a long-sighted strategy to not allow racists PR opportunities at civil rights events, most certainly not at memorials to victims of white, racist murderers. It is big picture to say that letting them in here gives them power to co-opt a little now and much more later. My notes from last month's Chaney Goodman Schwerner memorial on the Steele family land have Ben Chaney saying ìthe people who murdered my brother loved the confederate flag. Gov. Barbour wears the flag on his lapel.î Chaney then went on to say he was angry that having Barbour and Pickering there was tantamount to using the memories of his brother and Schwerner and Goodman to perpetuate fraud. That was this year, three weeks ago. By the way, did you know that Jim Prince III says Ronald Reagan is his hero for appearing at the Neshoba County Fair? He keeps a big picture of Ron and Nancy at the fair over his desk. Hmm. Now what exactly is he doing as co-chair of a racial reconciliation organization?

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-07T23:14:54-06:00
ID
141765
Comment

Not a nice person? Hmm. Well I am. Let's start with Shelby Foote who writes about black soldiers that they ran from fighting and fell on their faces. Archival works, diaries, many historians and other historical documents don't support what he has written. I think he owes an apology to black people. I don't think he is very nice. I think he let his racism get in the way of his writing and that's not a very scientific way to approach research. In fact, it is a very stupid way to approach historical research. This has nothing to do with whether he is a southern or northern historians but has everything to do with bias and research. I knew that when you asked me who is my publisher you were taking a poke and I didn't like your tone, either. I have published for several big publishers (two computer books) and have worked as a development and acquisitions editor for Simon & Schuster (responsible for the development of quite a few books). I feel very qualified to publish my work and the work of others. This is something I love to do. I didn't start out wanting to write this big of a book. I just wanted to write a little book about the Delta, perhaps something that children would enjoy. But as I ran into murder after murder after murder that was not investigated or was investigated and ignored, I got really mad. I'm sickened at the thought of little Birdia Keglar being decapitated in front of her cousin, Grafton Gray. The person involved is the son of a wealthy planter and they just keep on truckin' . The idea that a public official would stone to death Daisy Savage and her grandson really made me sick. I don't see any of these and other stories written and they really need to be collected because we will never know how to improve as humans until we acknowledge and understand our past. I know that my "passion" comes off as very yankee-like but what is it going to take to light a fire under the attorney general to get out and solve some of these murders? Cleve McDowell was murdered in 1997. It is probably a very complex case involving COINTELPRO and/or other such entities. There is no way that I am going to believe that Juarez Webb murdered him. (Webb's charges were lowered to manslaughter from murder after he agreed to a plea bargain. Later he said that he was coerced. I think that I believe his story.) Now you can attack how I publish and how I write and how I might be overly passionate but why don't you, instead, try to get these officials to do something about these cases. These families are real people who are still hurting. If I can come in fresh off the turnip wagon and quickly learn about these events, where are the Mississippi journalists? I guess I took a swing at John Bear because you were taking a swing at me. I don't know the guy but I've always associated his work with "diploma mills" and didn't know that he worked for such a prestigeous organization as the FBI. Sorry. I'm happy for you that you had such a good experience. susan

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T23:32:03-06:00
ID
141766
Comment

You pointed out that you make as much money on 800 copies of a self-published book as you do on 4,000 copies of a traditionally published book. This is true. But I'd rather sell 4,000 copies of a traditionally published book than 800 copies of a self-published book! Even a crappy traditionally published book? There's plenty of those out there. What I'm hoping to do is to make a contribution to Mississippi before returning to the West. My "self-published" book took two years to write, has 1,200 footnotes, eight pages of a selected bibliography, and lots of new information that I do not believe has been published before. I have felt badly for people who have been lied to by their history teachers. A professor at Tougaloo College, several years back, had the same experience with his black students. They had been taught that black people really messed up during Reconstruction and that is why it ended. He wrote a history book on Mississippi and had to sue the state before it was used. He did and he won. Anyway, my reasons for writing this book were not evil. :>) I just got into what I was doing and had a hard time shutting down the computer after meeting people who have lost family members. I hope that some kid or adult will read it and be inspired. Maybe run for governor or something. Susan

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-07T23:49:55-06:00
ID
141767
Comment

Susan, I'd like a citation on the Shelby Foote quote if you have one. Obviously that's relevant. Since I've worked with several self-published authors in the past (and made a point of saying that I owe my career to one of them, who sold, here again, over 200,000 copies of his self-published book), I don't see how my asking you which publisher you're working with could be interpreted as a dig. What brought the question to mind, to be honest, was your statement that it'll be six weeks before the book is on Amazon. "I'm self-publishing it" would have been a fine answer; but obviously if you say that self-publishing is the big new thing and everybody should be doing it instead of working through traditional publishers, then I'm going to argue with that. Primarily because aspiring writers get that kind of rhetoric from the ad section in Writer's Digest and end up shelling out thousands of bucks so they can have a garage full of trade paperbacks with cheesy-looking laminated covers. The main issue, I hear, is promotion. If you can move 25,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 copies of your book without collaborating with a publisher, I think that's fantastic. I don't believe most authors can. That said, I plan on self-publishing an ebook myself one of these days. I have a few projects that I think I can promote reasonably well that are way too specialized for most publishers. John has actually written some thirty books. His "diploma mill" stuff has to do with the work he did on the FBI's DipScam project during the 1980s and the book he co-wrote with retired agent Allan Ezell last year (Degree Mills), chronicling DipScam and going into the history of more recent operations; he's better known for Bear's Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning, now about to go into its 16th edition, which describes legitimate distance learning programs (like the master's I did from California State, the low-residency D.Pharm. from Vanderbilt, the Penn State bachelor's completion program, the University of London's 169-year-old external programme, the University of South Africa--which offers the degrees Nelson Mandela did from prison, etc). I'm puzzled by your logic on why you decide to make a dig on John because of something I said, but that's beside the point. I'm not a journalist, but I'm more than willing to raise hell when I'm pretty sure I'm right. Donna, who's actually a real journalist, is even more willing to do that. Maybe your book will provide solid evidence, and I plan on ordering a copy when it becomes available on Amazon. But for pete's sake, don't flame people you're trying to bring on board as allies. That's not going to help a bit. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-08T00:00:35-06:00
ID
141768
Comment

"As I said to C.W., I agree that that's a problem (the Civil Rights Movement story being told by whites)." So what about Howard Zinn? John Dittmer? they can't write about the civil rights movement? Does your theory hold true for science as well? (Only white scientists can write about Jonas Salk's research?) So only Presbyterians can write about Presbyterian theology? Gays about gay history? Only blacks about Booker T. Washington or Marcus Garvey? I don't think you would have many academics on your side. :>) Number one, it's interesting that you're picking on me rather than on the people who brought up this point in this thread and who I was agreeing with. Number two, my point (which I think can be fairly understood in context) is that it's a problem if the telling of what happened during the civil rights movement (1) is told ONLY by whites and (2) concentrates on what white people did in the movement. -- Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-08T01:30:45-06:00
ID
141769
Comment

I'm with Tim on this. There's too much foolishness in the civil rights literature about the benevolent white men and women who swept in to save the allegedly lowly, defenseless African Americans when, in fact, it was a collaborative effort. A beautiful collaborative effort. A collaborative effort that was generally much riskier for black folks than it was for white folks. Lots of white heroes in the civil rights movement, but lots of black heroes, too, and they don't get their due. In the academic literature, sure, up to a point--but not a whole lot in novels, and sure as heck not in the movies. Mississippi Burning. A Time to Kill. The list of powerful-white-man-saves-powerless-black-man flicks goes on and on. I find myself much more drawn to stuff like In the Heat of the Night, which is not always as inspired by specific historical events but feels a heck of a lot more realistic somehow. (As for why you got criticized: You got me. John Bear got criticized just because Susan was PO'd at me and I happen to know the guy. I mean, I sent John an email to the effect of "Hey, you know this person?," and come to find out, well, no, she was just attacking the reputations of strangers, completely at random. Good grief!) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-08T01:46:42-06:00
ID
141770
Comment

There's too much foolishness in the civil rights literature about the benevolent white men and women who swept in to save the allegedly lowly, defenseless African Americans when, in fact, it was a collaborative effort. That's exactly it (and you expressed it much more beautifully than I did). I will say that what I said (that Susan quoted) was more general than that, much too general, but I still think it was reasonably clear in context. It's the white-Superman/black-Lois-Lane treatment that's the problem, not the simple fact that white people are working to document the civil rights movement. I'm sorry that what I said could be taken otherwise. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-08T02:06:00-06:00
ID
141771
Comment

I'm confused. First of all, I'm not white. I'm half Irish and half Cherokee. which does put me in an awkward position if I take seriously any comments that only black people should write black history. So I can't write about the history of Mississippi unless I only write the Irish-Cherokee parts? (I want the light history meat, you can have dark.) So which part do I get? The wings? If I were a black historian, I'd sure want to write about that old windbag Senator James Eastland who kept black children from eating while he collected millions of dollars in agricultural subsidies. But only white people can write about him, and many have done such a bang-up job, already. So what are we doing here? Cutting off the information supply line? Deciding who gets to manage the information and who doesn't? Sounds kind of like the white citizens council to me. Sure doesn't whiff of academia unless we're talking Bob Jones. So who do I have to get permission from before I write out of the Cherokee-Irish genre? I really need to know before I mess up. Will I need to buy a license? Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-08T08:17:35-06:00
ID
141772
Comment

All I'm going to add here is a clear re-statement of the rules: no personal, ad hominem attacks such as some that appeared above. The next person who does that on this thread will be suspended from posting here. Reminder of the rules for posting on this site

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-08T09:12:53-06:00
ID
141773
Comment

Only one other comment, and I must fly: Ben, you're not telling me anything I don't know. I agree with your bullet points and haven't said any different. In fact, what the JFP tried to do is to both honor and educate our history, as well as stay focused on current and future problems. That's something I really agree with Ben Chaney on. I heard him at the Memorial, and we spoke many times during the trial. I'm not saying he's not angry at Barbour; he is, and I don't blame him. And I reported many of those comments in my cover story, which I'm sure you read. The point is that he is coupling that anger with very real attempts to build understanding, without belittlement or condescension of any kind that I've seen, with Mississippians on the ground here. He is not yelling at us about what we don't know, or even assuming he knows everything and we don't. I believe, at this point, he is directing his "constructive anger" toward very positive efforts. I think that's great, and I will assist him however I can in his positive efforts to involve young Misssissippians in making this a better state for all of us, whether or not he and I agree on every single point or strategy. The point is, and it's important: We don't HAVE to agree on everything. No one owns this effort, nor can they. It's a team project, and there is no one strategy. OK, am out, but will be checking in to moderate the site and police any problems, so all please be respectful and honor the rules.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-08T09:23:30-06:00
ID
141774
Comment

Donna, I wasn't trying to convince you that I am right. I was objecting to how you framed your strategy as big picture and mine as anger driven. I am happy to agree to disagree and move on. I just don't want to accept how you characterized my thinking. I would be interested to hear you or others comment on Jim Prince III. I keep coming across things that make me wonder about him, such as I mentioned above. If any of you all have opinions, I'm all ears, and that would be a way to discuss the issue of who controls historry and what is co-opting without beating the Haley Barbour dead horse any further into the ground. (And without speculating further about Susan's book; if you guys read it I think you will be very embarassed about what you've saying is wrong with her book. If you want to know a little more about it, I've posted my foreword to it and the book summary on my blog.)

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-08T11:01:42-06:00
ID
141775
Comment

So where are the black historians when it comes to the Delta? I asked that question at a conference last December and learned that when many of today's black historians began writing, there was great concern about what had been accurately written on much of any time period, and they felt it critical to go back as far as they could and play a catch up game. There have been some pretty neat histories written about the Delta but I have not seen one piece that tries to hold together a larger period of time. Some historians did an extensive study on the Colored Farmers labor movement the mid 1920s. At the time, there were Garveyites in the region who were helping organize black farmers into tenant unions and the Minter City massacre was the result. Older Mississippi history books tend to call such events "uprisings." I'm looking for more information on "Oliver Cromwell" a labor leader from Texas, I believe, who may have lost his life in this event. I believe that Marcus Garvey actually came into the Delta. Anybody out there know if he did? There is the story of Joe Pullen's gunfight in Drew; he was a sharecropper who was cheated by a planter (Sanders), right after World War I and after the Elaine massacre. The event is seen as a watershed event in history. The fight went on all night and there are various reports about the number of people killed (from 3 or 4 to hundreds). The story was carried from coast to coast and has been very important to many of the Delta blacks with whom I've spoken. Fannie Lou Hamer used to tell the story. Of course both of these events took place years after the big lynching on Eastland's plantations of the Holberts. One comment on the Elaine Massacre, I learned that what some historians believe to be the best coverage (often ignored) was by Ida B. Wells of Holly Springs (who later moved to Chicago and then Europe). While Elaine was on the Arkansas side of the river, it is said that over 1,000 Klansmen, planters, etc. from the Delta crossed the river to get involved. But what makes the Pullen story particularly interesting, is that about a week later, when everything had simmered down, the blues musicians in Drew re-opened their clubs and began playing well into the night. The town police chief, Dewey Roth (people sometimes call him Dewey Ross) got mad and told them there would be no more playing after 8 p.m. Well, they didn't leave and Roth and other "night marshals" went into the clubs and started beating and killing people. The very next day, the musicians who survived left for chicago. And some say that was the birth of the Chicago Blues. I was given a list of about 30 blues musicians from Drew that I'd never seen in print from the man who told me this story. Cool. This is really fun history. It is as rich as the soil that supports it! I really hate to see history lost or purposely written to the advantage of one over another. Trying to halt people from collecting history seems to me as very oppressive. And this scares me a whole lot. No culture thrives on censorship and oppressive behavior. One doesn't have to go very far back in time to recognize this, do they? Peace, Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-08T11:04:38-06:00
ID
141776
Comment

Susan, I said very clearly: "It's the white-Superman/black-Lois-Lane treatment that's the problem, not the simple fact that white people are working to document the civil rights movement." You followed this immediately with: "I'm confused. First of all, I'm not white. I'm half Irish and half Cherokee. which does put me in an awkward position if I take seriously any comments that only black people should write black history. "So I can't write about the history of Mississippi unless I only write the Irish-Cherokee parts? (I want the light history meat, you can have dark.) So which part do I get? The wings?" And all I can really say is: What the mother-of-plurp are you talking about? I don't like to think the worst of people, but I really can't take what you posted as anything other than deliberate misinterpretation and/or distortion, because I don't see how I could have been any clearer. -- Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-08T12:00:12-06:00
ID
141777
Comment

Whoa! I think I see the basis of the confusion here. Ben, I don't think there has been any criticism of Susan's book. How can anyone criticize it when they haven't read it? (Not that some folks won't try, but show me where, in here, that it's happened). The main criticism I saw was of Susan's personal remarks about other people in here. I think you need to go all the way to the top of this thread and read, if you haven't already. The remarks about black history being written by whites originated in my criticism of John Sugg's article which was based on a remark made by Mr. Dearman. I know a few African-Americans who would criticize any writing of black history by whites, no matter how good it was, or how progressive the white person, but I haven't seen that argument in this thread. Tim stated: Number one, it's interesting that you're picking on me rather than on the people who brought up this point in this thread and who I was agreeing with. Yes, it is odd, Tim, since I'm the one with the original 'whites writing black stories' complaint and you started out arguing with me about it (although it turns out that we're in basic agreement, I just didn't articulate myself clearly to begin with). Tim also said, Number two, my point (which I think can be fairly understood in context) is that it's a problem if the telling of what happened during the civil rights movement (1) is told ONLY by whites and (2) concentrates on what white people did in the movement. Susan, that's pretty clear, which is why I'm confused about why you're confused; it seems to me that you're taking it as a dig at your book, when it was his explanation of why it wasn't - it refers back to the discussion about Suggs/Dearman. I don't think anyone thinks your book concentrates only on what white people did in the movement; I doubt Ms. Block, in her position as one of your editors, would allow that to happen. :-) Had you written this book without Margaret Block as your editor, I might have had some questions about your ability to keep your perceptions (as a non African-American) from influencing your perspectives, but it appears to me that her involvement has taken care of that. Getting her to edit was a smart move, as well as the right thing to do.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-08T12:09:05-06:00
ID
141778
Comment

Tim, I'm going to honor what Donna has requested. I'm done kibbitzing about myself, my book, etc. This is a place to exchange views about news events and information that relates to the events. Okay? Thanks, Susan Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-08T12:10:55-06:00
ID
141779
Comment

Tim, Susan is trying to pick fights with everyone on this site. I can only assume that this has something to do with book promotion. It would probably be wise of both of us to ignore her posts from here on in. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-08T12:13:28-06:00
ID
141780
Comment

Susan, fair enough (I didn't see your post before I clicked "Submit"). Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-08T12:15:27-06:00
ID
141781
Comment

I re-read my email and it was too curt. I am just trying to say that I really don't like the way I've been coming across. So I'm going to stick to my business and stay out of fights. It does no one any good. My mission in life right now is to get out a good book. I know how to do this and that's what I'm doing. I'm very excited about the project. Thanks, hope this was less yankee-like. I do realize we can be very abrupt. susan :<)

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-08T12:15:36-06:00
ID
141782
Comment

I though this was very interesting. http://www.neshobademocrat.com/Main.asp?SectionID=7&SubSectionID=302&ArticleID=10662 Wednesday, July 06, 2005 LETTER/ Wants more African American teachers in school To the editor: Please weigh the components of this formula in the light of racial equality. The student population at Philadelphia High School is almost 55 percent African American; the teaching staff at PHS consists of only ONE certified African American teacher. This may have something to do with finding answers to our bewilderment that African American students have almost no self-esteem, and their lack of respect for authority, and their careless expectations for a brighter future. Occasionally somebody in our community will stop and think and wonder out loud to the school board, etc. concerning this wide disparity in the racial make-up in our school systems, and the pathetic answers are always the same, ìNo minority applicants this term,î ìNo certified black applicants.î We know ó have actually observed the practice of hiring white applicants and allowing them to work and take courses to become certified for positions. But to refute those claims, I have spoken with former graduates of our area schools who have gone away, forged their way ahead, worked hard, ìpulled themselves up by their own boot strapsî so to speak. But when they wanted to return home to teach in the school where they were cheered on as athletes, and ìgood students,î their applications have been turned down, and they have been passed over in the hiring. One certified, experienced teacher was interested in one of the vacancies at the end of this school term. In the process of filling out the application, she called a school official to ask a question concerning the application and starting salary as related to her experience, and was told in a very unprofessional tone, ìJust send in the application, we have a review board.î This expression is submitted by a recent applicant who is greatly perplexed concerning his attempt to get hired in the school system to rescue so much black talent in this community: ìI have been trying to get a job in the city school system since 2003. I was encouraged by my school board representative ñ past and present ñ to apply. Other mentors also watched over my academic and professional progress and encouraged me, ëGo on,í ëStay out of trouble,í ëDo well,í ëWe need you to come back and live in the community and work to help other struggling young men like yourself to be all they can be.í I thought I had a good chance at being hired, so I applied. I am a graduate of PHS/ECCC/Rust College, Holly Springs (graduated cum laude) / degree in health and physical education / listed Whoís Who Among College Students 1994 / four years teaching experience / 10 years coaching experience / taught and coached at Omaha, Neb. public schools and Shelby County School System in Memphis, Tenn.

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-08T12:29:18-06:00
ID
141783
Comment

I think you need to go all the way to the top of this thread and read, if you haven't already. The remarks about black history being written by whites originated in my criticism of John Sugg's article which was based on a remark made by Mr. Dearman. I know a few African-Americans who would criticize any writing of black history by whites, no matter how good it was, or how progressive the white person, but I haven't seen that argument in this thread. Tim stated: Number one, it's interesting that you're picking on me rather than on the people who brought up this point in this thread and who I was agreeing with. Okay I do see the confusion here. Tim's comment came 12 hours after your original comment and after there had been other discussion introduced about self-publication. I heard Tim's comment in the context of Tom's stuff about how Susan is publishing the book, not in the context of what you said much earlier.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-08T17:46:25-06:00
ID
141784
Comment

Keep reading, Ben. That comment was made three days before Susan picked it up and commented on it (her comment came after the discussion about self-publication) You'd have to ask her why that was (I can't answer for her, but my guess is that she may have just noticed it as she was scrolling down to the more recent posts and may well not have realized that it was made several days before she commented on it, and before either of you joined in this discussion). See the copy and paste(s) below - or feel free to check and make sure I didn't miss anything in between (but since I've followed this thread since the beginning, I don't believe I have). It's a mix-up that snowballed right out of sight. Susan, you need to read a bit more carefully and less defensively; listen to what people are actually saying rather than what you are expecting them to say. I told you (elsewhere) I am straightforward. I meant it. I hope I'm not being too rude, but if I am, I'll live with it. This is something easy for me to see in you, because I'm often guilty of it myself. Please feel quite free to call me on it when you catch me doing it. =========Tim on July 5TH============== As I said to C.W., I agree that that's a problem (the Civil Rights Movement story being told by whites). And I get as upset as the next person when I see Mississippi and its people being unfairly maligned. (When I lived in DC, I invested a lot of energy defending Mississippi, warts and all, to Yankee friends from equally warty places, believe me.) But I have to honestly say that I did not see any of that in Sugg's piece here. I'm inclined to think you're right about Dearman's quote being something Sugg seized upon because it was a priceless quote for the story he was writing. (You can hardly blame him; it is a priceless quote.) Best, Tim Posted by: Tim Kynerd on Jul 05, 05 | 12:28 pm ===========Susan on July 8TH================= "As I said to C.W., I agree that that's a problem (the Civil Rights Movement story being told by whites)." So what about Howard Zinn? John Dittmer? they can't write about the civil rights movement? Does your theory hold true for science as well? (Only white scientists can write about Jonas Salk's research?) So only Presbyterians can write about Presbyterian theology? Gays about gay history? Only blacks about Booker T. Washington or Marcus Garvey? I don't think you would have many academics on your side. :>) Susan Klopfer Posted by: Susan Klopfer on Jul 08, 05 | 12:08 am

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-08T19:55:42-06:00
ID
141785
Comment

Looks like there's harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding. Harmony and soul derison, mystic crytal revelations bend the mind through liberations.... Ahhhhquarius, Aquarius. Susan I'm feeling much better now that the ether has cleared.

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-08T20:51:40-06:00
ID
141786
Comment

Hey all, just checking in for the first time since yesterday a.m. I really appreciate the tone now and how everyone is trying to listen to each other. I was thrilled to see there hadn't been a killin' in my absence. Carry on. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-09T12:37:30-06:00
ID
141787
Comment

I want a copy of your book, Susan, regardless of the price. All I'm looking for is the truth and nothing but the truth. If your book is written as well as your comments, I'm sure I will enjoy it.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2005-07-11T11:19:31-06:00
ID
141788
Comment

A number of people had opinions about Haley Barbour, who, in the end, I must concede, is something of a red herring. Everyone knows he's a racist; we all know what he believes and what he intends whether or not he shows up at civil rights memorials. I'm beginning to feel puzzled over why no one cares to comment on Jim Prince III. He's a good example of a white man who has cornered a good corner of the racial reconciliation market in Philadelphia. Every so often I hear people note that not everyone likes him because he's a conservative. But he's a conservative who seems to linger quite publicly over a moment that should be notorious for anyone concerned with establishing "a perpetual structure that will foster racial harmony and reconciliation" (Philadelphia Coalition website). Jim Prince's lack of accountability for this and other things I could mention concerns me much more than Edgar Ray Killen, Haley Barbour or Jim McIntyre. Like Hood and Duncan, Prince is someone whom we depend on to pursue change. How can we rely on him if he makes no explanation of what seem to be racist sympathies? People here and others whom I've been dialoguing with say things to reassure me like, "there are things happening behind the scenes that you may not know about." Frankly, that is exactly what I'm concerned about.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-11T13:47:47-06:00
ID
141789
Comment

I don't depend on Jim Prince for anything; I don't know the guy, and I don't know much about the guy. I second Ray's comments about your book, Susan. All other things aside, I'm definitely buying a copy. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-11T13:55:07-06:00
ID
141790
Comment

Tom, Jim Prince is one of the people we're supposed to be grateful to for the indictment and conviction of Killen. Supposedly we owe it all to the call for justice made by the Philadelphia Coalition, which Prince co-chairs. He's also editor of the Neshoba Democrat, so he has some power in the community on a number of related fronts. When people raise questions about how the indictment and trial all went down, we are told to chill out; there's a lot more going on behind the scenes and we've got to hang back and let the Coalition get the job done. If you don't depend on Jim Prince, Tom, does that mean you're pursuing truth and justice in civil rights era murder cases some other way? I'd love to hear about other local efforts in this department. It would make me a little less anxious.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-11T14:06:26-06:00
ID
141791
Comment

Ben, I don't know anything about Jim Prince III. I would be too glad to tell it if I did. I do know, however, that ony a small amount of truth or the real story has been told about Mississippi's history of racism, abuse, and murder of black folks, and the coverup of all of it. I won't even mention the measures that have been taken to ensure the truth is never fully told. They're too numerous and already known. Just as in the past, if outsiders don't tell it, it may not ever be told. Arguably, even the state's hatred of outsiders is an attempt to keep the whole truth from being told. Outsiders, talking about Mississippi, have never really offended me. Most of what I have heard was the truth. When outsiders lied about us I corrected them. When outsiders failed to see the planks in their own eyes or the skeletons in their own closets I pointed them out to them. When outsiders said I was dumb Mississippians I proved otherwise. There still is profit, respect among peers, political advantages, comfort, and self-esteem, in some people, to maintain racism and division. This is just my two cents on this matter. I'm out and back into invisibility for a spell.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2005-07-11T14:34:26-06:00
ID
141792
Comment

Ben, familiar with both arguments and with what the Philadelphia Coalition has been doing. I'm just not familiar with Jim Prince as an individual. I would not go so far as to say that I pursue truth and justice in civil rights murder cases in any meaningful way, but I would like to do more in this area. My concerns re: antiracism have more to do with fighting passive racism; pretty much all I've done to attack the active variety is mail checks to the SPLC. You need to bear in mind that I'm under 30, and live in a city that's 74 percent African American; I am no more connected to the cultures that allowed these murders to go unpunished than you are. If you know of a way that I can support these prosecutions in a more active manner (other than trying to call more public attention to them on an individual basis, which I'm already doing), please clue me in. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-11T14:42:56-06:00
ID
141793
Comment

I second everything Ray has to say here, with the caveat that outsiders need to approach "other people's problems" with kindness towards the innocent, and with a certain amount of overall humility. This is true whether one is a northerner criticizing Mississippi's legacy of racism, or an American non-Muslim urging reform of Islam. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-11T14:47:05-06:00
ID
141794
Comment

I agree with you, too, Tom.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2005-07-11T14:51:05-06:00
ID
141795
Comment

Tom, I only asked you what you are doing because you said you weren't relying on Jim Prince. How activist individuals are is a personal decision that I cannot judge. Ben

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-11T15:20:08-06:00
ID
141796
Comment

I'm beginning to feel puzzled over why no one cares to comment on Jim Prince III. He's a good example of a white man who has cornered a good corner of the racial reconciliation market in Philadelphia. Has he? Is there anyone who thinks heís in it for racial reconciliation? I thought Iíd read a quote of his that basically said he was looking to the economic advantages for Neshoba County, but Iím not sure Iím remembering it right (and Iím not sure I could find it again), so donít hold me to that. Maybe Iím wrong, but I donít see Mr. Prince as all that important. I donít comment on him for that reason, and for the reason that I donít know that much about him. Whatís been printed in the media in Mississippi has not been terribly flattering, for the most part, and thatís about all I know about him, other than that heís willing to carry (and/or write) stories calling for justice. I have to give him props for that, even while I may question his motives. Who depends on Prince to pursue change? Seriously, Iím not being sarcastic or facetious, Iím thinking Iíve missed something. Hey, Ray, don't leave us again!

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-11T15:40:25-06:00
ID
141797
Comment

Ben, I seriously would like to hear any specific suggestions you can offer. I'm at a loss as to how I can help with this sort of thing, and I'd like to. C.W., agreed on Prince. With a few exceptions, the personalities of the movement just don't interest me much. And Ray, please stick around! Or at least let's stay in touch through other means--I've really enjoyed your posts here. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-11T15:48:56-06:00
ID
141798
Comment

I'm doing what I can on my website; besides that, I am wondering if a barrage of letters to the editor of various papers would help, but am not sure. It might provoke a barrage of other letters of the "it's a waste of taxpayer's money" and "it's too late, been too many years, yadayadayada" sort like I kept seeing in the C/L during the lead-up, during the trial and after. I'm interested in what other folks think about that (because I don't personally know of anything else). If anyone has some other ideas, please roll them out; I know someone out there has more imagination than I do. While I really hate to bring this up, another consideration is that at some point, a person has to weigh how much energy is spent toward injustices of the past as opposed to injustices of the present. I'm not ready by any means to give up on this, but I'm not spending all my time and energy on it - there are ongoing problems that need to be worked on.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-11T16:02:50-06:00
ID
141799
Comment

C.W., your web site will be on my sidebar in the next blog update. Thanks for maintaining it! Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-11T17:44:51-06:00
ID
141800
Comment

Just got back and dipping into the discussion for a quick peak. I haven't read carefully, yet, but I'm a bit puzzled by the discussion about Jim Prince and his different views. A "coalition" by its very definition is a group of people with various ideas, or "agendas," if you will, coming together for a coming cause. From Dictionary.com: co?a?li?tion †† †P†††Pronunciation Key††(k-lshn) n. An alliance, especially a temporary one, of people, factions, parties, or nations. A combination into one body; a union. Source: The American HeritageÆ Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition coalition n 1: an organization of people (or countries) involved in a pact or treaty [syn: alliance, alignment, alinement] [ant: nonalignment] 2: the state of being combined into one body [syn: fusion] 3: the union of diverse things into one body or form or group; the growing together of parts Certainly you can disagree with some of Mr. Prince's views, criticize some of his specific words and actions if you feel the need to, and still admire the work that the Philadelphia Coalition did, drawing together a very diverse group of people to call for prosecution of Edgar Ray Killen. And they are now calling for much more. Ben wrote: Jim Prince is one of the people we're supposed to be grateful to for the indictment and conviction of Killen. Supposedly we owe it all to the call for justice made by the Philadelphia Coalition, which Prince co-chairs. I think that's a bit hyperbolic. First of all, you can be "grateful" to the coalition -- or, perhaps better, "appreciative" of what they did -- and still disagree with Jim Prince in various ways. Those things are not mutually exclusive. As for the second part, I haven't heard one person say "we owe it all" to the coalition; if so, that would be naive. Of course, there are many forces they brought this to bear so far. That part of your statement might be a bit of a straw man, Ben. Otherwise, will catch up with the chat later on.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-11T17:56:44-06:00
ID
141801
Comment

Thanks, Tom, I'm glad you don't think I'm totally wasting my time with it - occasionally I wonder if it's worth the amount of time it takes; I'm a stubborn sort, though, which is probably why I'm still going at it. And, Donna, you are right about admiring what the coalition has accomplished so far. Even though, so far, only Killen has been indicted, I rather doubt (considering the apparently lackadasical efforts of the AG) if we'd have even gotten this much without that push from a coalition composed in part of people who aren't generally motivated by pure altruism - because those are the folks who are mostly likely to hold the most power. We just need to keep pushing steadily, at the very least, and hope they keep working as well. Thank God for people like Susan Glisson who are able to help bring such a diverse group together at the same table.

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-11T19:16:04-06:00
ID
141802
Comment

I salute Susan Glisson's work as well, C.W. Also, Ben, you wrote: When people raise questions about how the indictment and trial all went down, we are told to chill out; there's a lot more going on behind the scenes and we've got to hang back and let the Coalition get the job done. Due to the passive, I can't tell you told you to "chill out" and "let the Coalition get the job done." Who's saying that? I can't imagine that someone would try to argue that the Coalition is the only thing that should participate in racial reconciliation in the state. Confused.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-11T21:22:33-06:00
ID
141803
Comment

Coalitions work together to obtain a common goal. That's what I understand coalition politics to be. I am questioning the objectives of some people on the Coalition. Dictionary definitions cannot convince me that it is productive to form coalitions with people whose intentions may well be opposite the stated aim of the coalition. Donna, in your own reportingówhich is far better than much of what is out thereóyou quote people like Diane Nash and Ben Chaney being critical of the Philadelphia Coalition. But why don't you or other journalists investigate their allegations? Only quoting them without investigating them is to not really take them seriously. It's not all for you to do singlehandedly, but what you've brought out should be explored some more, don't you think? [snip] I would concede that such investigative reporting could be quite dangerous for a local to do, however. If it's not, why is no one doing it? If it is, well, that speaks to what is at stake in this discussion. I would not be surprised if investigation yielded other revelations about the membership of the Philadelphia Coalition. Possible white supremacist sympathies are a great deal more serous than enlightened economic self-interest. The two are related, but they are not the same.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-11T22:08:49-06:00
ID
141804
Comment

For the record, C.W., the quote from Prince is, "I tell people if they can't be behind the call for justice because it's the right thing to do--and that's first and foremost--then they need to do it 'cause it's good for business." Sounds to me like he is claiming to be in it "because it's the right thing to do" but is appealing to the economic self interest of others... In 1965, Erle Johnston (Director of the Sovereignty Commission) was meeting with prominent bankers and members of the Mississippi Retail Association to discuss Project B.I.G. (Business, Industry, and Government). In notes from a July 16 meeting, Johnston notes, "It has been freely mentioned at most of these meetings, the program would be of greater benefit if the name of the Sovereignty Commission could be changed to Mississippi Public Relations Commission or something similar." Andrew J. Reese, Jr., reporting for UPI, explained in an article a couple of days later that the program would shift the alliances of the Commission from the Citizens Council to other business executives who have been "sharply criticized by the Citizens Council leaders" for supporting compliance with the Civil Rights Act. "A large segment of the state's industrial and business leadership," Reese explains,"is as strongly opposed as ever to integration, but recognizes the law must be obeyed." What exactly is the Coalition's program for "seeking the truth" (Phila. Coalition website)? Monthly seminars on the content of the Sovereignty Commission files? I don't think so. An annual commemoration where all the known names of murdered African Americans and civil rights workers is recited? A call to gather the names of the murdered from old people who have been saving them, to continue Susan Klopfer's work? An annual naming of the names of known murderers who never served time for their crimes? I'm not talking about the 20+ allegedly involved in Chaney Goodman and Schwerner; I'm talking about all the others whose names are on Susan's Murders Around Mississippi blog and in the files of the Sovereignty Commission and elsewhere. (There's a few suggestions, Tom.) Public Relations Commission sound pretty good. It would be a lot more descriptive than Philadelphia Coalition.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-11T22:24:32-06:00
ID
141805
Comment

Ben, you're confusing me. You say we locals should do more to deal with unsolved civil rights murder cases, but stay away from the Philadelphia Coalition. I say okay, and ask what can I do in terms of constructive work, since we're supposed to stay away from the PC. Crickets chirp. I mean, there seems to be only one organized group that seems to be doing something--a drop in the bucket, but something--to get these cases prosecuted. And your response to that group is go look for members whose grandfathers might have been racists? Come on. Suggest something constructive. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-11T22:30:46-06:00
ID
141806
Comment

Ben, you are making a lot of sweeping assumptions about what people are and are not doing. That's fine for you, even though it's not convincing. What is not OK, however, is for you to post unsubstantiated statements about individual people here. I note that in the article you reference that the writer does not give her source -- and another unnamed source is not a good enough source for us to publish allegations. Thus, I will delete those personal allegations, as I would if someone posted something unsubstantiated about you or your grandfather. I will add, however, that I do not necessarily see the exploding gun over the revelation that someone's father or grandfather or uncle or brother was in the Citizens Council, being that so many people in Mississippi were at the timeóboth out of race hatred and fear of economic boycott and ruinónot an excuse, but a reality. That is surely nothing to be proud of, and needs to be discussed. But what it does in no way do is negate the efforts of children or grandchildren of white supremacists today who are trying to both face and make up for the past. And I find wholly unconvincing the conspiracy theories floating around that any members of the Philadelphia Coaliation are purposefully trying to limit the investigation due to their family's race histories. And don't start accusing anyone here of not investigating something or keep condescending to us little Mississippi reporters here about what we are or can do; your assumptions and generalizations are truly weakening your otherwise-interesting statements when you say stuff like that. (Like: "why is no one doing it?" No one? Are you inside every person's head?) You're kind of sounding like you're looking for an axe to grind, and finding one you don't know enough about to grind, at least when it comes to people like me and what I may or may not be working on. I will admit, though, that my primary research right now is not going into who was a member of the Citizens Council two generations ago. I currently am choosing other avenues to pursue. You really can't have it both ways, Ben. People can't complain that we Mississippians don't face "our" past, including those of us with shameful family historiesóand then turn around and start screaming at people who step up for racial reconciliation despite their political leanings because they have a racist family history. Such an attack is illogical and disingenuous at best and, in my view, destructive to reconciliation and this state's future at worst. Meantime, I'm tiring of our discussions, so I will depart and go back to being afraid to do any worthy reporting. G'night.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-11T22:38:49-06:00
ID
141807
Comment

Due to the passive, I can't tell you told you to "chill out" and "let the Coalition get the job done." Who's saying that? I can't imagine that someone would try to argue that the Coalition is the only thing that should participate in racial reconciliation in the state. Confused. Sorry about the confusion there. I was paraphrasing from a conversation I had with a Mississippi journalist who is more expert than I in this history but wants to give the lions share of the credit for what progress has been made to the Phila. Coalition. I conflated that journalist's remarks with the ones here. You (Donna) did say something similar about what Hood and Duncan may be doing behind the scenes, and I let all of those comments run together in my mind. In any event, the main parties mentioned so far as having a role in bringing about justice are the Phla. Coalition and Mark Duncan and Jim Hood. Also mentioned are Dearman and Molpus for their moral and courageous stands. Aren't there others we can mention? Where are the news stories about the Steele family? This trial would have been a great time to delve back into the details of how Cornelius and Mable Steele worked closely with Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. And to recall, with gratitude, that Cornelius Steele was responsible of the first memorial and that it has been members of that family that kept the memorial going year after year, even when outside support was quite thin.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-11T22:47:11-06:00
ID
141808
Comment

Obviously, I clicked "Send" before I read your post. I'd still like more constructive suggestions (publicly accusing people of murder based on secondhand rumors doesn't strike me as a very sensible use of my time), but I did spring for Susan's book. Which is, so far, still the only specific thing you've suggested. I share Donna's frustration with the relentlessly patronizing "Why don't you people ever learn" tone, particularly since it isn't mated up with information on what, exactly, you think it is we're supposed to be doing. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-11T22:49:56-06:00
ID
141809
Comment

You (Donna) did say something similar about what Hood and Duncan may be doing behind the scenes, and I let all of those comments run together in my mind. Uh, I don't think so, Ben. I believe you're putting words in my mouth. I've been critical of Hood/Duncan's case except for Duncan's closing statement, which was breathtaking. And if a journalist said what you just said (and had blanketly attributed to all of us before, it seemed), it was stupid. I don't think *anyone* get's the "lion's share of the credit*ófor God's sake, why are we even talking about "credit," anyway? This isn't a math exam or something. I personally believe that everyone from Civil Rights veterans to Dick Molpus, the Philadelphia Coalition to Richard Barrett, journalists of all stripes, everyday citizens and more get some "credit" with this case moving forward when it did. But I really don't have time or inclination to talk about who gets "credit." There's too much to be done to go around divvying up blue ribbons. You don't talk about friggin' credit when the governor is trying to rip apart public education. I agree that more stories need to be done about the families in Longdale, and I have written about them, but not in the narrative way I'd like to, yet. For the record, I did suggest them to several national and international journalists and even took two of them on a tour of that "graveyard of heroes," as I call it. But there are also challenges associated with telling the Steele family story, as I've found, partly because of the issue of "credit" that seems to get in the way of the story. I suspect other journalists have found the same thing if they've looked. But I'm not going to talk about that in any detail. As for your post at 11:24 p.m. about the Philadelphia Coalition ó with all due respect, your reporting is a bit lacking for someone trying to lecture us scared little reporters. Do you even know what the Coalition announced after the verdict? Clearly not. You're on a path and have figured out who the good guys and the bad guys are. Do some more homework, Ben, before you start telling us Mississippians everything we're doing right and wrong. And for heaven's sakes, stop filling in the holes in your knowledge with assumptions about us. It's tired. Finally, I'm with Tom. I'm tired of being condescended to, Ben. I'm sure you mean well, but you're not coming across well at all with your patronizing attitude. So, g'night for real.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-11T23:05:39-06:00
ID
141810
Comment

T. Head, You said "And your response to that group is go look for members whose grandfathers might have been racists? Come on. Suggest something constructive." [snipparoo] However, I do see a point in "outing" unsolved, and under-reported Mississippi civil rights murders. If for no other purpose than justice. Period. Sorry gfathers. :-( Give up the pride in denial. Standing right along Mississippi racist pride is Mississippi liberal indifference, posturing that the "negro" problem is to be theorized about, nothing more.

Author
cortez
Date
2005-07-11T23:14:42-06:00
ID
141811
Comment

The allegations are on the public record, Donna. I only stated that they exist and directed readers to where they were printed. Of course having racists in one's family is not inherenlty damning. But in other reconciliation processes that I know about, say between the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and children and grandchildren of Nazis, the conversation begins from a point of openness about the past. The people with Nazis in their family come to the table as people with Nazis in their family. The people whose families were murdered come to the table in that light. If such things aren't out in the open, and then we learn later about the past of one person or another, it is very difficult to trust the motivations of those who were hiding something. If certain people are pursuing justice as the children and grandchildren of Council members or Klansmen but are not honest about it, what meaning of their endeavor? At the memorial on the Steele family land, Ben Chaney made some serious allegations about the family history of someone who was closely closely involved in the Killen trial. He didn't accuse that person of being what their family member had been. What he said was, "We could have embraced [that person] and said here is the future of MS,î if they had been honest. Being secretive about it fosters distrust. That is my complaint. I kept the name and gender of the person Chaney mentioned out of my post. I hope that makes it kosher enough to mention.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-11T23:18:30-06:00
ID
141812
Comment

I so love being told off by the left. It's only secondary to the lashing we take from the right. And, truth be told, very similar. Now, cortez, if we may get past the petty insults and discuss real stuff (OK?) ... I, too, see a point in "outing" unsolved civil rights murders as well. Actually, I find it vital and necessary. And I don't give a damn if the murderer is a grandfather (inevitably is). But dissin' someone who joins a reconcilation effort *because* their grandaddy was in the WCC is a bit of a stretch to be holier-than-thou, IMHO, and illogical as I stated. Kinda different, as I think you're saying in there among your snipes. Next time, lose the snipes, though.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-11T23:21:37-06:00
ID
141813
Comment

Good post, Ben, though I still could use some advice on what specific work you think I could be doing to bring unsolved murders to light. (I'm ignoring cortez' out-of-nowhere homophobic rant because I figure it'll probably be deleted by the time most people see this.) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-11T23:28:35-06:00
ID
141814
Comment

No, Ben, an unsubstantiated source in another newspaper is not the "public record." It is libel if it's false. You actually did more than that ó you made a statement about someone and then linked to an article that did not name its source to back up. Feel free to do that on your own site. Otherwise, I think there is value as well in talking about these issues of not protecting the old racist coots ó have written that many times. But there is a way to do it, and a way not to, and your way is shrill and illogical in the context you put it in. Truth is, a lot of children of Mississippi find out these things in public ways because their families have never talked to them. Accusing someone of being "secretive" and "hiding thigns" may simply be misinformed (and libelous if you can't prove they're actually "hiding" something), but some people accuse and assume first -- I've been the target of it my whole life as a Mississippian -- and that is completely unhelpful to anything. Such condescension gets you nowhere, and damn fast.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-11T23:30:53-06:00
ID
141815
Comment

Studs Terkel, Howard Zinn, and Susan Klopfer all present the oral histories of people denied a history. What's with the patricide Mississippi liberal folks? Ben asked, in part, "What exactly is the Coalition's program for 'seeking the truth' ... An annual commemoration where all the known names of murdered African Americans and civil rights workers is recited?" And what was the JFP's response, in part, to Ben's thread? "What is not OK...is for you [Ben] to post unsubstantiated statements about individual people here." What is "substantiated"? A circa 1950s police report in the Clarion Ledger written by a gfather? Hardly. Susan Klopfer is giving the Hodding Carter proteges a 700 page tool to crack open some reconciliations. Is there enough evidence in oral histories to win a conviction? Sometimes. Afterall, what is a "witness" if anything but living, breathing hearsay. Who is to say the learned man's medium of "recorded news" is inherently more credible than eyewitness testimony, afterall, the latter is admissible in a criminal trial and the former is not.

Author
cortez
Date
2005-07-11T23:57:42-06:00
ID
141816
Comment

(One clarification: The "grandfathers" comment I made above was in reference to something another poster had said about an activist's grandfather being a member of the White Citizen's Council. It was not a reference to the Killen trial, or to the prosecution of other aging murderers; if you want my thoughts on that, click here. For all I know, my own father's father could have been a member of the WCC or similar organization--I only met the man twice.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-12T00:04:12-06:00
ID
141817
Comment

Donna, your selective "sniparoo" of my comments simply illustrates your position of power in ensuring your cultures' denial of truth and history. If you want to argue that my comments were "ad hominems" as you frequently do with all whom you disagree, then you ought to have left my comments posted in this thread for independent judgment.

Author
cortez
Date
2005-07-12T00:14:32-06:00
ID
141818
Comment

And this is my last one for the night: Of course I know "what the Coalition announced after the verdict," Donna. I saw it in the papers at the time and it's on the Coalition's site, which I've already quoted twice today. I am genuinely happy to hear them say "Others responsible for this crime must be brought to justice as well." BUT, why did they wait until after? They had a substantially different statement up until the verdict. Leroy Clemons, the African American co-chair with Prince, went on record saying things like "Since the call for justice has been answered, we want to focus on the educational aspects." The Coalition was also emphasizing it's "non-activist role" in the lead up to the trial. What then was its role? The Coalition got a lot of press around the indictment and in the months leading up to the trial. Why didn't they use those opportunities to speak about the broader issuesóas Rita Bender did pretty much every single time a microphone was pointed in her direction? It is deeply important for the Coalition to continue talking about the "others responsible" and the other crimes. The Coalition did not start saying so until much of the outside world was leaving Philadelphia, satisfied that the story is over. We are talking about credit because all of the people you are right to mention are so routinely excluded from most of the news stories about the trial while the Phila. Coalition is mentioned time and time again. Under other conditions, I would not care to bring up "credit." No apologies for my tone. I don't believe I've cornered the market on condescension.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-12T00:16:35-06:00
ID
141819
Comment

It is an hour later here, in Boston, but just to make sure you hear me, Tom, I said, "An annual commemoration where all the known names of murdered African Americans and civil rights workers is recited." That would be a good thing to do. Why not ask to appear at a Phila. Coalition meeting and ask them to sponsor it. If they refuse, you could start your own Coalition for Truth and Justice (to throw out a name) that sponsors its own events commemorating the dead. Or if you can create a safe enough space for it, an event where families who've lost their loved ones take turns standing up and saying the names of their brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. whose lives were taken. I've been in rooms where families did that for their loved ones lost in the Holocaust. It is very powerful, very moving and deeply affirming of the losses that are generally invisible to the world. There should also be ways to consider all of the possible suspects mentioned in the Sovereignty Commission files. I was being hyperbolic about standing up and accusing people, but what about all of those "justifiable" homicides, where the murderer admited it and it's a feather in his cap that he killed a Black person in "self defense"? Does their legal exhoneration make them any less a murderer? No way.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-12T00:40:40-06:00
ID
141820
Comment

cortez, there's a reason why most hearsay evidence is considered inadmissible: Its track record ain't too good. It puts innocent people in prison. If oral tradition were always a reliable source of evidence, then we'd know for sure that Jonah spent three days in the belly of a whale, Muhammad (PBUH) received the full revelation of the Qur'an from Allah, Siddharta Gautama achieved enlightenment, and Krishna preached to Arjuna on the fields of Kamakshetre. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-12T01:50:55-06:00
ID
141821
Comment

Ben, some of this stuff could definitely work. Just out of curiosity, have you contacted the state NAACP about any of these ideas yet? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-12T01:53:17-06:00
ID
141822
Comment

Head, Do you really expect me to argue with you concerning when hearsay is admissable and when it is not? It's certainly off-topic with the discussion. (Although, the "snipparoo" gentility police seem to not alter your posts, be they off-topic, degrading or what not.) One of my points is that lawyers use witnesses, not newspapers, as evidence for anything other than the weather on a given day. As I said, a witness is living, breathing hearsay, i.e., more reliable than hearsay. Peoples' testimonies are evidence; it is simply lazy journalism to refuse to pursue the leads given through their testimonies. I guarantee you Jo Etha Collier was murdered in 1971 in Drew. Did your grandfather (metaphorically speaking) call it a racial murder when he was reporting? Doubt it. Head, I recall an insult you made earlier about your sister Ladd being a "real journalist" (it was a not-so-veiled attempt to de-credentialize all those who blog, write books, etc., as somehow inferior truth-tellers). Well, in my opinion, "real journalists" ought to not rely on grandfathers or bibliographies to "tell the story," just as a lawyer would certainly not rely on a newspaper article in deciding whether to prosecute a civil rights murderer. Often it is the lack of a story being pursued, as is the case with Mississippi journalism and the JFP, which is the real story. Whose grandfathers are being protected? Shouldn't even the appearance of impropriety be avoided through the vigorous pursuit of such leads?

Author
cortez
Date
2005-07-12T06:15:11-06:00
ID
141823
Comment

Thanks Ben and Cortez for your comments. They are constructive and thought-provoking to me, whether I totally agree with them or not. Certainly, I speak for only me. I appreciate a myriad and variety of thoughts and suggestions. None of us know it all. My Mississippi history has shown me that brazenness will have to come from the outside, or from people with the attitude of an outsider like me and many others. There are people who are trying to bring about real change but no one method or person is all inclusive. Malcolm X used to joke that he didn't really have a problem with Dr. King's style, and in fact he was helping Dr. King, because when the power structure considered his message they quickly fled to Dr. King's message of non-violence and reasoable patience.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2005-07-12T09:13:30-06:00
ID
141824
Comment

cortez, please get over yourself. You are alleging all sorts of things about me, the JFP and others that you can't even know enough about to say. Others have done that as well, and it's insulting. You are trying tto disrupt conversation, and that violates our policy here. If you have problems with the fact that we do not allow potentially libelous statements here, as well as plain hateful attakcs, you know what they say in these parts: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Or: Stop trolling for a fight, talk issues, or leave. As for the "sniparoo," I had left your offensive paragraph until Tom pointed out that it was homophobic and that I was probably going to delete it. I snipped it then, realizing that it, indeed, was homophobic not to mention just a nasty troll statement. It's not fair for me to delete racist comments about whites and blacks, and potentially libelous statements about individuals, and not delete homophobic comments, and I apologize to Tom and others for making that initial error in judgement. Funny how I delete offensive comments from the right and the left, anti-white, anti-black, anti-gay, and so on, and it's inevitably (according to the trolls), only the stuff I don't agree with that I delete. You're right ó I don't agree with hatefulness, and I will continue to delete it, as well as block the folks promulgating it. Otherwise, we will be better than no other site (and most cities, as Ben pointed out earlier), and not have any forum for discussions because only angry trolls will be ripping each other to shreds trying to show how ornery they are. Those folks can find another Internet home. This isn't it. Them are the rules.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-12T09:56:36-06:00
ID
141825
Comment

If you made a homophobic comment, cortez, I support Donna's snipping. It is good that you mention Jo Etha Collier. That terrible murder can illustrate for Tom that we are not talking about hearsay only. Sovereignty Commission investigative reports are no more hearsay than FBI investigative reports. There is always reason to think critically about the information provided in such reports, but they are investigative reports, admissible in court (as is hearsay, if I'm not mistaken). Take a look at one of the the the reports on Ms. Collier's murder and see if it reads like hearsay. Of the three suspects, two were let off, while Wesley Parks was sentence to 20 years, which he got reduced to 5 on appeal, serving less than three years in the end. Ms. Collier was only 18; she had just graduated from High School. The murder was described by the authorities as a random shooting; and, indeed, Jo Etha Collier, was not politically active and was probably shot only for being Black and within Parks' sight. However, civil rights leadersóAaron Henry and Fannie Lou Hamerónoted at the time that "random" murders of Blacks in the Delta tended to increase during periods of heightened voter registration activity, as there had been then. Collier's murder was the third such killing in less than a week. Henry wrote a powerful telegraph to President Nixon to protest the ìwave of senseless killing in Mississippi of black citizens by white citizens.î Mark Duncan would do well to take Henry's words to heart: You see, if a jury acquits a man who is tried, and in this case a white man for the murder of a Black citizen, then at least there has been some attempt to secure justice. But when the District Attorney pronounces that those charged will not be brought to trial, then we are almost back to where we were in the ìDred Scott,î U. S. Supreme Court decision of a hundred years ago, that established that a Black had no rights that whites were bound to respect. Of course this also meant the privilege of a white to take the life of a black with no fear of ever coming to trial... I learned about all of this in Susan's book.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-12T12:42:29-06:00
ID
141826
Comment

Tom, You asked me for suggestions for what you could do locally. I made some. Why are you throwing them back at me and asking me if I've tried to get the NAACP to take it up? You as a community member have a better chance at getting your local NAACP chapter to collaborate on a civil rights memorial, don't you think? Anyway, my suggestion was you ask the Phila. Coalition to sponsor it. It should be right up their alley, right?

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-12T12:59:47-06:00
ID
141827
Comment

admissible in court (as is hearsay, if I'm not mistaken). Indeed you are. We've discussed this on the site before, but even though the rule is riddled with exceptions, the general rule is that hearsay is inadmissible. Basically for two reasons: it is considered less reliable, and (in criminal cases, if offered by the prosecution) it violates the defendant's right to confront his accusers. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2005-07-12T13:04:19-06:00
ID
141828
Comment

Ben, In other words, you're not really interested in actually working on these issues, are you? You're just here to criticize folks who are? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-12T14:01:23-06:00
ID
141829
Comment

No Tom. Why don't you answer the questions instead of attacking? You asked for suggestions, claiming that you earnestly wanted ideas for what YOU could do. I made a few suggestions and then you wanted to know why I'm not doing them. You told me that beyond mailing money to the SPLC you are not working on these issues. I make no judgement of that, but offered suggestions for what you could do after you asked for them repeatedly. If you hadn't gleaned from my various statements, I flew from Boston to Mississippi to support an existing memorial that I think is meaningful. I am far from wealthy; it was a stretch for my family financially, but I went because it seemed appropriate, given my involvement with the community that puts on the memorial. I am also working with Susan and others on research and truth telling about the past. And if you must know I am active in civil rights activities in Alabama, too, where my father was active in the 1960s. There I am on the board of directors of a community based civil rights organization, formed by movement veterans. You are making assertions about the past that you cannot support (calling legitimate information about unresolved murders "secondhand rumors") and do not deal with the counter evidence offered. When offered answers to your questions about what YOU can do, you first selectively quoted my response to shoot it down. Then after cortez and I both repeated the other part of my response you turned it around to attack me.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-07-12T14:40:39-06:00
ID
141830
Comment

Ben, you are criticizing both me and Donna for not doing enough to deal with unsolved murder cases. You and Susan both maintain blogs; she has written a 668-page book; you have both attacked the Philadephia Coalition for not doing McCarthy-esque witch hunts on the ancestry of everybody who wants to participate. But neither of you have bothered to contact the NAACP, the one other organization in the state that is actually in a position to do something about these issues? And I'm supposed to be impressed by your devotion to activism? Neither of us have done any meaningful activism in this area. The difference is that I'm willing to admit it and give humble respect to the folks who are getting things done on this front, while you're busy checking to see what groups their grandfathers might have belonged to. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-12T17:04:12-06:00
ID
141831
Comment

Well, look at the house negativity built. I think it's time to step in and say that the points here have been belabored, the fingers have been pointed, the Civil War has been re-fought. Please stop the bickering, and the fingerpointing, so that we can perhaps salvage the integrity of the good conversation that had been happening on this site before the witchhunts started. This isn't a place for whose-is-bigger catfights. Please, all, honor the topic better than this sniping and fingerpointing. Everyone doesn't have to agree, but good golly don't beat each other to shreds with assumptions and accusations. Gross. We will officially consider the tone changed on this thread if it is to stay open. I threatened on this one once before over personal insults; I'll say it again, and this time I'll match the tone that has shown up here over the last few days. The next one who picks a fight is in time-out.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-12T17:14:52-06:00
ID
141832
Comment

(And in the vein of putting my money where my mouth is, I am contacting the NAACP about this to see if this is the sort of thing they want to pursue. But my suspicion--because I am an NAACP member, assuming I didn't miss my renewal letter, and because I am confident that we have one of the top NAACP chapters in the country--is that they are already aware of most of these claims from way back, and are waiting until evidence emerges before they pounce. Which is the way this sort of thing has to be done--nice as it might be to round up every white supremacist who has ever been accused of murdering a civil rights worker, that isn't how the U.S. criminal justice system works.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-12T17:21:06-06:00
ID
141833
Comment

Donna, I'm on deadline for Friday anyway; I'll be the one to back out of this thread. That should solve the problem. Apologies to everyone for being part of this mess. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-07-12T17:24:36-06:00
ID
141834
Comment

Thanks, Tom. I do appreciate your defending my virtue -- ;-) -- but this thing is about to go over the edge into real ugliness, I fear. And that's not what the JFP is here for, so that is not going to happen. Good luck with your deadline.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-12T17:32:11-06:00
ID
141835
Comment

Considering the twists and turns this thread has gone thru, and it's potential for that ugliness Donna referred to, I'm officially out of this particular thread myself, after one parting shot (isn't that a stinky way of bowing out?) :-) All I can say is - just deal with it. There is a very good article in the Chicago Tribune that I hope y'all will read entitled "Forgetting past of Mississippi imperils future", and it was not quite what I was expecting (judging from the headline). It was written by a Chicagoan, but written on a visit to Indianola, MS. "Truth be told, I'm feeling apprehensive. Mississippi, with its storied history, is a haunted place. In all my travels, I've never set foot in the state." . . . "I drive to Hamer's hometown of Ruleville, a few miles farther. I ask a young man walking down the street if he can help me locate her house. He only knows that the street is named after her. He has no idea who she was." . . . "On the day I leave the Delta, Killen has been sentenced to 60 years for his involvement in the deaths of those civil rights workers. At this moment, the Delta, with its scary past, may be unfolding in my rear view mirror. But I think about gang violence and some young people these days who don't have a conscience or a clue about the movement--the struggle or their history--and I worry more about what's up ahead." And, guys, I left out some really good stuff. Go read it. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-0507110104jul11,1,7142200.column?coll=chi-news-nav&ctrack=1&cset=true

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-07-12T19:48:59-06:00
ID
141836
Comment

Thanks, C.W. That's a good one to close this thread on. It's taking an eternity to load anyway, so it's past its prime.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-07-12T19:54:40-06:00

Thanks to all our new JFP VIPs!

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus