James E. Prince III explains the resistance to progress on race relations in Neshoba County, MS this way:
Surprisingly, the resistance has not come from within Neshoba County or Mississippi. The resistance has come from the liberal left.
As someone whom Prince takes as an example of this so-called "liberal left" resistance, I must beg to differ. I wish I could say, in turn, that the problem boils down to Prince, the Neshoba Democrat (his news outlet), and the Philadelphia Coalition (the organization he co-chairs). If that were it, there would not be much work left to do.
Rather, I beg to differ on the assertion that "the resistance has not come from within Neshoba County or Mississippi." While not limited to them, local and state players have been an ample source of resistance to progress and change.
See, for example, the following letter from the Arkansas Delta Truth and Justice Center's John Gibson to the editors of the Clarion-Ledger, another prominent Mississippi news outlet, based in Jackson. I have noted that the Ledger's response to recent developments in the Edgar Ray Killen case was far superior to that of Prince's Neshoba Democrat. Still, the Ledger did not print Gibson's letter, nor has it publicly pressed Mississippi's Attorney General Jim Hood and Neshoba County's Distric Attorney Mark Duncan on the questions Gibson raises.
From: Arkansas Delta Truth and Justice Center
To: Ronnie Agnew, Executive Editor, The Clarion-Ledger
Cc: David Hampton, Editorial Director, The Clarion-Ledger
Jerry Mitchell, The Clarion-Ledger
Date: March 20, 2006
Subject: Neshoba murders: Present all evidence to grand jury
Letter to the editor
It is interesting to note that your newspaper's editorial on the Till case states that "the FBI report should be presented to a local grand jury and, of course, acted upon if there is new information that could result in indictments. More important, the FBI report should be made public to answer any remaining questions." This is appropriate albeit long overdue.
The same is true for the Neshoba murders case. Had the District Attorney and Attorney General presented all important evidence to the local grand jury, perhaps there would have been several more indictments rather than only the indictment of Edgar Killen. The grand jury heard evidence as presented by DA Mark Duncan and AG Jim Hood for only one day or less in January 2005. The transcript of the 1967 federal trial for conspiracy to deny civil rights related to the murders is 3,000 pages long. That trial resulted in the conviction of four men who are still living: Jimmy Arledge, Sam Bowers, Billy Wayne Posey, and Jimmy Snowden. Others still living should have been convicted. It seems that a local grand jury would have readily indicted more people in 2005, if the grand jury had been presented the available evidence.
Why wasn't that evidence presented to the Neshoba grand jury in 2005?
Why isn't that evidence presented now to a grand jury?
Why isn't your newspaper calling for that evidence to be presented to a local grand jury?
Why was only Killen prosecuted?
John GibsonArkansas Delta Truth and Justice Center
Clarion Ledger, March 20, 2006
Till case Report could begin final resolution
The FBI reportedly has finished its investigation of the Emmett Till case and has turned over its final report to District Attorney Joyce Chiles of Greenville for local action.
It has been more than 50 years since the 14-year-old Till was kidnapped, beaten, shot and thrown into the Tallahatchie River after the young black man was accused of whistling at a white woman. Roy Bryant, the husband of the woman, and his half-brother J.W. Milam, both now deceased, were accused of the crime, but acquitted by an all-white jury. They later admitted it.
The case was reopened in 2004. The FBI says the statute of limitations for federal civil rights laws has expired, but the state could pursue charges.
Despite the difficulty of prosecuting the old case, the FBI report should be presented to a local grand jury and, of course, acted upon if there is new information that could result in indictments. More important, the FBI report should be made public to answer any remaining questions.
The Emmett Till case is one of the most horrendous of the era. This latest effort to bring some justice has been worth it. It now should be left to Mississippi citizens to speak to the evidence.