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Thu Feb 27, 2014, 01:53 AM

 

Spies of Mississippi: New Film on the State-Sponsored Campaign to Defeat the Civil Rights Movement

A new documentary reveals how the Mississippi state government spied on civil rights activists in the 1950s and 1960s.

A little-known state agency called the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission hired spies to infiltrate the civil rights movement and squash attempts to desegregate the state and register African Americans to vote. Some of the spies were themselves African-American.

The Commission generated more than 160,000 pages of reports, many of which were shared with local police departments whose officers belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.

The film, "Spies of Mississippi," also looks at how some of those reports contributed to the 1964 deaths of Freedom Summer activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner 50 years ago.

For more, we speak with Jerry Mitchell, an investigative journalist for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. He won the release of more than 2,400 pages of Commission records in 1989, and used those to reopen many cold cases from the civil rights era. His work helped lead to the 1994 conviction of the killer of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers and paved the way for 23 more convictions. We are also joined by Dawn Porter, the award-winning producer and director of "Spies of Mississippi," which is now streaming online at PBS Independent Lens.


http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/25/spies_of_mississippi_new_film_on

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