Justice Issues

Mississippi Burning

It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place. — David Hume

Ed Newman
2 min readSep 16, 2022


Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

September 2008 — Despite the economic fireworks on Wall Street, they pulled it off. Obama and McCain made their appearances at Ole Miss in Oxford Town just as scheduled. Strange PR antics this week, but my guess is that we’ve not seen the end of any of it, so let’s be sure to keep our collective seat belts fastened.

I just finished reading (listening to) another great book, Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America by Steven Gillon, based on the History Channel series by the same name. It was interesting because the key word here is “unexpectedly.” They chose ten dates that were not the ones we might usually choose, like the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the attack on the Alamo. Instead they chose more obscure dates and issues which had wide ranging ramifications. Shay’s Rebellion was one such event. The assassination of William McKinley was another.

Interestingly enough, the tenth day in the book’s ten events had to do with Mississippi and race relations in America. It dealt with the killing of three young civil rights workers who were taking part in the Freedom Summer efforts to register black voters. Two were white students from the North.

The author details the background of this tragedy as well as its fallout.

If you are not familiar with the great lengths to which the Southern white politicians made it near impossible for a black to vote, I strongly recommend the last chapter of this book as a place to begin your homework.

What was galling to many black leaders, however, was that blacks in Mississippi had been dreadfully oppressed, terrorized and mistreated for a hundred years, and no Federal action was taken. But when two whites from good families got killed here, the FBI came in by the boatload. No expense was spared to insure justice was carried out.

The film Mississippi Burning, starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, is a powerful portrayal of this specific moment in our history. Though criticized for bending facts for the sake of story, one does come away with at least a partial sense of the terror of those times. And the tenth chapter of Gillon’s exceptionally researched book vividly acquaints us with those details.

Related Link: Oxford Town, Oxford Town

Originally published at https://pioneerproductions.blogspot.com.



Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj