JUNE 12, 1963

Credit: U.S. Army

Hours after President John Kennedy told the nation that the grandchildren of those enslaved are “not yet freed from the bonds of injustice,” NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi, and protests followed, including a march of 5,000 people with Martin Luther King Jr., after his funeral. 

Hundreds of African Americans rushed to courthouses to register to vote, only to be arrested and jailed. As for Evers’ assassin, Klansman Byron De La Beckwith was tried twice by all-white juries in 1964, but each trial ended in a hung jury. In 1989, the case was reopened, and Beckwith was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2001.

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Debbie is a veteran journalist, who worked over 30 years at the Clarion Ledger, first as a reporter and then as an editor overseeing breaking news, business and investigative projects. She left the CL as news director in 2018 to become managing editor of the nonprofit Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and joined Mississippi Today on Oct. 1, 2022, to become its first justice team editor.

The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.