Non-Fiction Book Talk
by: Angela Brown
Did you know. . .
That there was an underground spy network that tried to destroy the 1960's Civil Rights Movement?
Well. . .
- This anti-civil rights organization was hidden in plain sight in an unassuming office in the Mississippi State Capitol.
- Funded with taxpayer dollars and granted extraordinary latitude to carry out its mission, the Commission evolved from a propaganda machine into a full blown spy operation.
How do we know this is true?
- The Commission itself tell us so in over 136,000 pages of files preserved by the State of Mississippi!
- This use of first person primary historical material brings the reader through one of the most interesting and yet little known stories of America's quest for Civil Rights.
- Medgar Evers: NAACP State Field Secretary. June 12, 1963, Evers comes home from a long day. He gets out of his car, arms filled with "Jim Crow Must Go" T-shirt. As he walks in he is shot in the back.
- James Meredith: First African American student admitted to the University of Mississippi. This even went down in history, the Commission negotiated the terms of Meredith's acceptance at the Ole Miss with President John F. Kennedy.
- Freedom Riders: The Commission added scare tactics to limit and deter the Freedom Riders.
- And More!!!!
The year 1956 saw the creation of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a special agency charged with preserving the right of the state to govern itself without interference from the federal government or private pressure groups. In this era, “sovereignty” was code for segregation, and the commission was granted extraordinary powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, make arrests, maintain secret files and force witnesses to testify. Using primary-source materials, including 134,000 pages of documents from the commission’s once-secret files, Bowers tells the chilling story of how the Mississippi government systematically created a propaganda machine and statewide spy network and collaborated with such groups as the Klan and the White Citizens’ Council to undermine the efforts of civil-rights organizations. He effectively illustrates the desperate and shockingly illegal lengths the commission went to but is less successful in linking it to the assassination of Medgar Evers and the murders of three Freedom Summer volunteers. Compelling and enlightening nonetheless