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Mississippi Burning: Reflection


Mississippi Burning is a movie about a missing person’s case of three civil rights activists that later turned into a murder investigation. Of those three civil rights activists, two were White Jewish men from New York, and the other was a Black man from Mississippi. These three were part of Freedom Summer, a campaign launched in 1964 where many civil rights activists were dedicated to encourage Blacks in Mississippi to register themselves to vote. They were in Neshoba County because they were investigating the burning of a church that had agreed to support Freedom School, an alternative school that was set up in Southern States to oppose public schools that were racially segregated. This film gave me a deeper insight of how African Americans were treated and severely discriminated against in the segregated southern states. While watching this movie, I felt how inferior the Blacks felt towards the Whites, and how they lived in fear from them. I could sense how helpless they felt. They were even afraid to stand up for themselves since there simply was nothing that could be done about it. If they fought against the Whites, they and/or they’re family would get killed. Whenever a Black happened to piss a White off, as a form of punishment they were sometimes publically lynched and their rotting carcasses were just left there to hang in plain sight for everyone to see. Who would do such a thing? How could they possibly despise the blacks to the point where they’re willing to barbarically torture and even kill them? How this much hatred was implemented in these people’s minds is just beyond me.


A scene that made me quietly giggle to myself was when a community of Black people gathered around a church that had just recently been burned to the ground by the KKK. They were talking amongst themselves and started dissing Jessup County’s sheriff when a Black lady shouted, “one day we might even get a Black sheriff!” When she said that, it just made me think of how now, in the 21st century, we have a BLACK, that’s right, an African American, as president of the United States. The fact that back then, having a Black sheriff was still just a long dream away for these people made me think of how far America, especially the previously segregated areas, has come since then. In my opinion, this is a great movie that should be watched my anyone who wants to learn a thing or two of how people were racially segregated in Southern American States back then. The story of how three innocent young men were mercilessly killed by extreme White supremacists is truly touching and could give people a better insight of the horrid conditions Blacks had to live through.


After doing some extra research on the actual story the movie Mississippi Burning was based on, I found that there were some differences between what was portrayed in the film and what happened in real life. For example, the name of the county where the murders took place was actually Neshoba County, not Jessup County. Names of certain people, including those who’ve been convicted were also changed due to certain laws. Back in the day, in southern segregated states like Mississippi, there was just no possible way a White would be convicted for killing a Black since the jury in these states were all White supremacists who would definitely let people from their own race off. Now, in the 21st century, the jury is multiracial and consists of both Whites and Blacks. This case has been reopened a couple years ago and due to our new modernized and advanced technology, a person has finally been re-trialed and charged for the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. The name of the person convicted was, Edgar Ray Killen.


Name: Edgar Ray Killen DOB: January 17, 1925 Date of Conviction: June 21, 2005 Sentence: 60 years Role In Murders: Charged with manslaughter because he called up the men to murder the three activists. He was basically the one who orchestrated the ordeal.


Of those who were convicted on October 20, 1967 were: Name: Billey Wayne Posey Role In Murders: Admittedly was among those who pursued the trio on June 21st, 1964, was present at three of the murders, and helped discard the bodies after. This statement could not be used to testify against him in state court because he was given immunity. Name: Cecil Price DOB: April 15, 1938 DOD: May 6, 2001 Sentence: 6 years (Served 4.5 years) Role In Murders: Member of KKK *Price was the sheriff who detained the three civil rights workers for speeding and intentionally let them go in the middle of the night to be caught then killed by the KKK.


*Three other men named Jimmy Snowden, Horace Barnett, and Jimmy Arledge were also convicted but I couldn’t find any pictures or information on them.

Name: Alton Wayne Roberts DOB: April 6, 1938 DOD: September 11, 1999 Role In Murders: Shot two out of three of the civil rights activists.

Name: Samuel Bowers DOB: August 25, 1924 DOD: November 5, 2006 Sentence: 6 years in federal prison Role In Murders: KKK Imperial Wizard & Mastermind of murders.


Mississippi Burning: Reflection