This week on the NPR Code Switch blog I published a story about the racial shooting of Richard Joe Butler. In 1964, near Natchez, Miss., Butler was shot four times by white hooded men—and survived. One of the alleged shooters, who was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill in 1964, was also a prime suspect in the Clifton Walker murder.
On February 28, 1964, near midnight, Clifton Walker’s ride home from work was cut short. On the twisty unpaved road he took as a shortcut on the final leg of the drive from the International Paper plant in Natchez, Klansmen stopped his car and shot him multiple times in the face at point blank range.
A week before Thanksgiving, on November 21, I received a text from Catherine Walker Jones from New Orleans. “Strange thing happened a hour ago,” she said, “FBI agent delivered a letter informing me Daddy’s case will be closed!!! I am lost for words and angry.”
Today, in Jackson, Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger, I published the first investigative news report about the 1964 racial murder of Clifton Walker:
The latest issue of the Nieman Reports features stories on unsolved cold cases from the civil rights era.
The Online News Association announced their finalists for the 2011 Online Journalism Awards this week, and The Civil Rights Cold Case Project is a finalist in the Specialty Site Journalism category. We're proud of all that this project has achieved, and we're very honored to be considered for the award.
The Alabama Senate joined the state House yesterday in passing a resolution for an official state apology to Recy Taylor, 91, who was raped by seven white men in Abbeville, Ala., in 1944. According to the AP:
For four years, Stanley Nelson has investigated the death of Frank Morris, a shoe repairman who died from fatal burns after his shop was torched in 1964. Nelson, whose efforts have led him to identify a suspect in Morris’ killing, was recognized earlier this week as a Pulitzer finalist for local reporting.
Nelson, an editor at The Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday-Vidalia, La., was selected by Pulitzer judges in the Local Reporting category due to "his courageous and determined efforts to unravel a long forgotten Ku Klux Klan murder during the Civil Rights era."