DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI
Today we learned that justice may finally be reached in a case dating back to 1964 – the death squad killing in Mississippi of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Much credit goes to the State of Mississippi for finally making an arrest in one of the worst crimes of the civil rights era. But let us also pay tribute to a great local newspaper, the Clarion-Ledger, that broke the story that led to the indictment of the leader of the death squad, Edgar Ray Killen. As the paper reported today,
In 1999, the attorney general's office reopened the case after The
Clarion-Ledger published excerpts from a secret interview given by Sam Bowers, a
one-time Imperial Wizard who headed the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the
nation's most violent white supremacist organization in the 1960s. The paper
obtained a copy of the interview, which was for an oral history that was not to
be published before Bowers' death.
Read the Clarion-Ledger’s coverage and its special report, “44 days that changed Mississippi,” here:
And lest we forget, there’s been some great songs about those terrible days in the South, and one of the best is J.B. Lenoir’s "Down in Mississippi." J.B. Lenoir was a gifted southern bluesman who made his career in Chicago and died tragically after a car wreck in 1967. You can’t help but be moved by these words:
They have a hunting season on the rabbit
If you shoot him, boy, you go to jail
But the season is always open on men
Don't nobody need no bail
Down in Mississippi
Down in Mississippi where I come from
Down in Mississippi where I belong...
You can buy one of his J.B. Lenoir's finest recordings (which contains the amazing “Vietnam Blues,” “Korea Blues,” and “Eisenhower Blues”) at this link:
And you can read some of his lyrics here:
Jim Dickinson, the great Memphis producer, piano and guitar player and blues artist, has also cut some amazing versions of J.B. Lenoir’s song, and the best one is available on this live recording:
Dickinson’s sons, who make up half of the North Mississippi All Stars, recently released their own live version of the song, with their father singing, on their live album “Hill Country Revue,” available here:
Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, presente!