Mississippi is still burning, vicious murder shows


HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The brutal murder of James Craig Anderson in Jackson, Miss., on June 26 invokes an all too familiar theme in Mississippi history: racism. According to news reports, the 49-year-old African American autoworker was assaulted by a group of white teens, including 18-year-old Deryl Dedmond Jr., and then fatally run over in a truck. This crime, tragic and vile as it is, seems to only be the latest example of long-standing racism that appears to permeate Mississippi to the core.

The alleged murderers began their night drinking at a party when Dedmond turned to his friends and said, "Let's go f**k with some n**s." After climbing into their vehicles, they eventually found Anderson in a parking lot near the plant where he worked. After pulling into the parking lot, the teens began beating Anderson while shouting, "White Power" along with racial slurs. Anderson crumpled to the ground. Unbeknownst to the assailants, their assault was caught on camera. After the beatings, some of the teens got into a green truck, ran over Anderson and then fled the scene.

According to reports, Dedmond, during a phone conversation with one of his friends, boasted that he "ran that n**r over."

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said, "Dedmond murdered this man because he was black." Smith plans to indict Dedmond on hate crimes charges. One of Dedmond's accomplices, John Aaron Rice, has been charged with simple assault.

The incident is likely to stir memories in those old enough to recall the civil rights era. Contrary to Gov. Haley Barbour's remarks that it "wasn't that bad" in Mississippi, there were several high-profile murders of African Americans during those years.

Perhaps most vile was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American from Chicago visiting relatives in Money, Miss. Till had joked with his friends about asking out a white woman at the local convenience store, and called her "baby" when he left.  Money being a small town, news of Till's conversation spread like wildfire. That weekend, Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam showed up armed at Till's relative's home and kidnapped him. Three days later fishermen found Till's naked and mutilated body in the Tallahatchie river. Less than one month later, an all-white jury found Bryant and Milam not guilty of the murder.

That same year in Mississippi two African American activists, Lamar Smith and Reverend George Lee were murdered. Just a couple weeks before Till came to Mississippi, a black girl was severely beaten for "crowding" a white woman in a local store.

In 1964, three civil rights workers - James Chaney, an African American, and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, both white - were found dead after having been missing for six weeks. They were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while they were investigating the arson of an African American church.

However, this ugly racism is not buried in Mississippi's past. It remains alive today. A Public Policy Polling survey from April of this year found that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans STILL believe that interracial marriage should be illegal.  And it took Mississippi until 1996 to ratify the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery.

An HBO documentary called "Prom Night in Mississippi" featured the town of Charleston, Miss., which, until 2008, had a segregated prom night - holding separate proms for black and white students. In fact, it took HBO showing up with a film crew to get the town to integrate their prom.

Then there is the case of Jamie and Gladys Scott who were released from a Mississippi prison this past December. In 1993, the sisters were given life sentences after being accused of stealing $11 from a convenience store. Two African American youths had actually carried out the robbery, but they drew light sentences after testifying against the Scott sisters. Later the youths admitted that they were the thieves, and that they had falsely accused the sisters of the crime. Their admission was ignored and the sisters, who had no prior criminal record, were sentenced to life in prison.

The sisters went into the correctional facility healthy, but due to the prison's inadequate food and healthcare, Jamie Scott's kidney began to fail. This past December, Governor Barbour, after an outpouring of cries for their release, commuted their sentences. However, he did not pardon them, as he didn't want the taxpayers to have to pay for Jamie's kidney treatments, even though she was falsely imprisoned for 16 years.

James Craig Anderson's brutal, hate-inspired murder is shocking, yet it only serves to underscore the petty racism that still permeates the state. The state that put the Scott sisters in jail knowing they were innocent, that still segregated proms into the 21st century, that largely opposes interracial marriage, and that still flies the Confederate flag as well as incorporating it into the state flag, is also guilty in this crime. Mississippi is guilty of doing little to combat the widespread racism that survived the Civil Rights Era.  Mississippi, in addition to the teens that murdered him, has James Craig Anderson's blood on its hands.

Photo via Ask Kissy.

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  • I love living in California , I would never move me nor my children to the south.. Never !! In the south racism still is living , in those white men would of did those crimes in california they would of did life in prison , and those black girls would of only did community service for stealing 11 freaking dollars .. Let's be real the south is racist and I would never move there .

    Posted by Mitch, 08/25/2012 12:55pm (3 years ago)

  • To erace all types of racism and hatre, people heart and thinking has to change. I can only say that Emmitt Till murder back in 1995, those who did it and those who know who did it and those did it have not came to justice; therefore, Mississippi will be haunted until those murders are brouth to justice. There is no other way around it!

    Posted by sirwalter13, 10/28/2011 2:49pm (4 years ago)

  • I am really sorry to hear this. I was tormented for years when James Byrd was murdered in Jasper, TX. I have had my own civil rights organization in the past in the early 90s in Wisconsin and I would welcome anyone to my radio show on BlogTalk Radio on Political Gravity on Sundays at 7 p.m. to discuss this tragic event. I tribute the victim and will remember his legacy and pray for his family.

    Posted by Jane Hoffman, 08/12/2011 2:06am (4 years ago)

  • All of those bastards should go under the jail including those that accompanied the two white boys caught. I don't think that will serve out their full sentences. They will finally meet the "niggers" they were looking for along with death.

    Posted by Alicia, 08/12/2011 12:38am (4 years ago)

  • It is very very sad. My first impulse is to break someone's head or worse. Then I get hold of myself.... what we do as a Party is the way to end racism. I don't know how far off an America without racism is, I can only work towards making it happen.

    fight for a just and peaceful society

    Posted by Gabriel Falsetta, 08/11/2011 6:46pm (4 years ago)

  • all of this is possible because mississippi is a severe symptom of what is permitted in the rest of the country, whether multi-categorical murder/hate crimes, the denial of the franchise to ex-felons, the system of public miseducation, nearly 2 million inmates of this nation of prison houses, ad nauseum.

    only socialism can begin to undo the political, economic, cultural, etc. props of the above. and a first blow in that direction must be the crushing of the southern strategy [we know there's going to be one] of the gop/tea party in the elections of 2012.

    Posted by gary hicks, 08/11/2011 4:52pm (4 years ago)

  • Unbelievable!c

    Posted by ismael , 08/11/2011 2:34pm (5 years ago)

  • I am a 41 year old disabled Veteran who raised 3 children, this type of hatred in America is NOT what I fought for, I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that in this day in age 'that young people (our future) still simmer with underlying racsism in America, I was born in 1970, I thought the Civil Rigts Era & the Great Dr. King's message, before my birth, would 've ended this senseless violence based on the mere color of a persons skin (or the way they talk) I am proudly a Cuban/Irish American, I still believe its our diversity that will save our Nation, I HOPE.

    Posted by Jason Duffy, 08/11/2011 2:15pm (5 years ago)

  • I lived in Jackson in the seventies for awhile. He was a scary place to be even for a white man. Very backward and corruption was obvious.

    Posted by David, 08/11/2011 1:05pm (5 years ago)

  • Everytime I tell Mississippians or white southerners about racism down there, they immediately say it is everywhere. I am sorry racist white southerners and racist Mississippians, what happened to Anderson does not happen in Seattle, it does not happen in Oregon and it does not happen in Hawaii, Minnesota or in Vermont. There are blacks in Seattle and in Oregon as well..and whites may be racist in those areas, but they are not barbarians like the ones you get down south! Haly "Barbarian" Barbour is a good rep of a bunch of white Visigoths and other barbarians in Mississippi!

    Posted by George, 08/11/2011 12:33pm (5 years ago)

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