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"Spies of Mississippi" Reveals Extent of White Supremacy in the South During Civil Rights Era

Sunday, April 23, 2017 By Anita Johnson, Making Contact | Audio Segment
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Spies of Mississippi is a journey into the world of informants, infiltrators, and agent provocateurs in the heart of Dixie.

(Image: ARTE)(Image: ARTE)The film tells the story of a secret spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain "the Mississippi way of life," white supremacy, during the 1950s and '60s. The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (MSSC) evolved from a predominantly public relations agency to a full-fledged spy operation, spying on over 87,000 Americans over the course of a decade. 

The Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help infiltrate some of the largest Black organizations like National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The MSSC was granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, keep secret files, make arrests, and compel testimony for a state that, as civil rights activist Lawrence Guyot says in the film, "was committed to an apartheid system that would make South Africa blush."

The film reveals the full scope and impact of the Commission, including its links to private white supremacist organizations, its ties to investigative agencies in other states, and even its program to bankroll the opposition to civil rights legislation in Washington, DC.

Weaving in chilling footage of Ku Klux Klan rallies and government propaganda films alongside rare images and interviews from the period, Spies of Mississippi tracks the Commission's hidden role in many of the most important chapters of the civil rights movement, including the integration of the University of Mississippi, the assassination of Medgar Evers, and the KKK murders of three civil rights workers in 1964.

Like this program? Please show us the love. Click here to support our non-profit journalism and be sure to join our newsletter. Thanks!

Featuring:
  • Margaret Block
  • Rick Bowers
  • Kenneth Dean
  • Ralph Eubanks
  • Lawrence Guyot
  • Edwin King
  • Robert Luckett
  • Neil McMillen
  • Jerry Mitchell
  • Bob Moses
  • Janet Moses
  • Congressman Bennie Thompson
  • Hollis Watkins
  • Governor William Winter
Credits:
  • Filmmakers: Dawn Porter and Rick Bowers
  • Radio Adaptation + Host: Anita Johnson
  • Producers: Anita Johnson, Marie Choi, Monica Lopez, R.J. Lozada
  • Executive Director: Lisa Rudman
  • Audience Engagement Director/Web Editor: Sabine Blaizin
  • Development Associate: Vera Tykulsker 

It takes less than 2 minutes to support the bold, independent journalism at Truthout. What are you waiting for? Click here to donate now!

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Anita Johnson

Anita Johnson is a contributor to Making Contact. 

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"Spies of Mississippi" Reveals Extent of White Supremacy in the South During Civil Rights Era

Sunday, April 23, 2017 By Anita Johnson, Making Contact | Audio Segment
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

Spies of Mississippi is a journey into the world of informants, infiltrators, and agent provocateurs in the heart of Dixie.

(Image: ARTE)(Image: ARTE)The film tells the story of a secret spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain "the Mississippi way of life," white supremacy, during the 1950s and '60s. The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (MSSC) evolved from a predominantly public relations agency to a full-fledged spy operation, spying on over 87,000 Americans over the course of a decade. 

The Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help infiltrate some of the largest Black organizations like National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The MSSC was granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, keep secret files, make arrests, and compel testimony for a state that, as civil rights activist Lawrence Guyot says in the film, "was committed to an apartheid system that would make South Africa blush."

The film reveals the full scope and impact of the Commission, including its links to private white supremacist organizations, its ties to investigative agencies in other states, and even its program to bankroll the opposition to civil rights legislation in Washington, DC.

Weaving in chilling footage of Ku Klux Klan rallies and government propaganda films alongside rare images and interviews from the period, Spies of Mississippi tracks the Commission's hidden role in many of the most important chapters of the civil rights movement, including the integration of the University of Mississippi, the assassination of Medgar Evers, and the KKK murders of three civil rights workers in 1964.

Like this program? Please show us the love. Click here to support our non-profit journalism and be sure to join our newsletter. Thanks!

Featuring:
  • Margaret Block
  • Rick Bowers
  • Kenneth Dean
  • Ralph Eubanks
  • Lawrence Guyot
  • Edwin King
  • Robert Luckett
  • Neil McMillen
  • Jerry Mitchell
  • Bob Moses
  • Janet Moses
  • Congressman Bennie Thompson
  • Hollis Watkins
  • Governor William Winter
Credits:
  • Filmmakers: Dawn Porter and Rick Bowers
  • Radio Adaptation + Host: Anita Johnson
  • Producers: Anita Johnson, Marie Choi, Monica Lopez, R.J. Lozada
  • Executive Director: Lisa Rudman
  • Audience Engagement Director/Web Editor: Sabine Blaizin
  • Development Associate: Vera Tykulsker 

It takes less than 2 minutes to support the bold, independent journalism at Truthout. What are you waiting for? Click here to donate now!

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Anita Johnson

Anita Johnson is a contributor to Making Contact.