Ghosts of Racist Violence Return to Haunt U.S.

The FBI recently reopened several unsolved murder cases from the Civil Rights era, thereby resurrecting long-buried memories of racist violence in the U.S.

Here are some of the better-known cases:

August 1955: Emmett Till, 14, from Chicago, is murdered and mutilated while on holiday in Money, Mississippi after whistling at a white woman. Two white men are acquitted of murder by an all-white jury (they later confess to the crime in a magazine article). 

June 1963: NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers is murdered in Jackson, Mississippi. White supremacist Byron De La Beckwith was jailed for life in 1994 but died seven years later.

September 1963: Four black girls are killed in a bombing at a church in Birmingham, Alabama. Three men were convicted of murder, the last of them in 2002.

June 1964: Civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman are arrested by local police and handed over to a racist mob. The next day their burned-out station wagon is found in the Bogue Chitto swamp, and the bodies of the three men are found 44 days later, buried 15 feet in an earthen dam. Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of these murders in 2005. Eight other bodies—including those of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee—were discovered during the search for Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman.

July 1964: Teenagers Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee are beaten to death by members of the Ku Klux Klan and dumped in the Mississippi River. Former klansman and sheriff’s deputy James Seal is currently being retried on murder charges in the Moore and Dee case.

June 1965: Klansmen shoot at the patrol car of deputy Oneal Moore and his partner Creed Rogers. Moore is killed and Rogers loses the use of one eye. The two Black deputies had been on the job for a year and a day. No-one was convicted of this crime.

For a longer list of victims of racist violence in the U.S., take at look at Biographies of Slain Civil Rights Figures.


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