After midnight on December 10, 1964, in Ferriday, Louisiana, African American Frank Morris awoke to the sound of breaking glass. Outside his home and shoe shop, standing behind the shattered window, Klansmen tossed a lit match inside the store, now doused in gasoline, and instantly set the building ablaze.Read more...
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After midnight on December 10, 1964, in Ferriday, Louisiana, African American Frank Morris awoke to the sound of breaking glass. Outside his home and shoe shop, standing behind the shattered window, Klansmen tossed a lit match inside the store, now doused in gasoline, and instantly set the building ablaze. A shotgun pointed to Morris s head blocked his escape from the flames. Four days later Morris died, though he managed in his last hours to describe his attackers to the FBI. Frank Morris s death was one of several Klan murders that terrorized residents of northeast Louisiana and Mississippi, as the perpetrators continued to elude prosecution during this brutal era in American history.
In "Devils Walking: Klan Murders along the Mississippi in the 1960s," Pulitzer Prize finalist and journalist Stanley Nelson details his investigation alongside renewed FBI attention into these cold cases, as he uncovers the names of the Klan s key members as well as systemized corruption and coordinated deception by those charged with protecting all citizens.
"Devils Walking" recounts the little-known facts and haunting stories that came to light from Nelson s hundreds of interviews with both witnesses and suspects. His research points to the development of a particularly virulent local faction of the Klan who used terror and violence to stop integration and end the advancement of civil rights. Secretly led by the savage and cunning factory worker Red Glover, these Klansmen a handpicked group that included local police officers and sheriff s deputies discarded Klan robes for civilian clothes and formed the underground Silver Dollar Group, carrying a silver dollar as a sign of unity. Their eight known victims, mostly African American men, ranged in age from nineteen to sixty-seven and included one Klansman seeking redemption for his past actions.
Following the 2007 FBI reopening of unsolved civil rights era cases, Nelson s articles in the "Concordia Sentinel" prompted the first grand jury hearing for these crimes. By unmasking those responsible for these atrocities and giving a voice to the victims families, "Devils Walking" demonstrates the importance of confronting and addressing the traumatic legacy of racism. "
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Nelson, the editor of Louisiana’s tiny Concordia Sentinel newspaper, uncovers the truth about a series of horrifying hate crimes that have been ignored for half a century. At the height of the civil rights movement, 15 Mississippian Klansmen, including a number of law enforcement officers, formed a violent vigilante organization named the Silver Dollar Group. Between 1964 and 1967, these men murdered eight African-American men in Adams County, Miss., and across the border in Concordia Parish, La., targeting those who seemed “militant” or overly familiar toward white women. FBI agents were assigned to investigate these killings but made no progress; many potential witnesses were afraid to testify, especially as a number of sheriffs and police officers were either Silver Dollar members or sympathetic to the group’s actions. Nelson spent years investigating these long-cold murder cases, interviewing aging witnesses and perpetrators in an attempt to bring, if not justice, then at least closure to deaths that continue to haunt the victims’ families—and, in some cases, their killers. Nelson ends his meticulous narrative on a haunting note, stating that “we all are” responsible for failures of justice such as these, but by bringing these stories to light he has made a great contribution to righting a historical wrong. (Oct.)