As editor of The Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday who writes a weekly column about his region's turbulent history, even Stanley Nelson has been astonished by his own discoveries about the mean, corrupt and violent behavior of Ku Klux Klansmen in the recent past. Week after week, Stanley digs out a new gem about the unsolved race murders of Frank Morris, Joe Edwards and Wharlest Jackson reports that have led the FBI to offer a reward and prompted federal and state prosecutors to join forces in probing the murders. Stanley¹s reports on the secretive Silver Dollar Group, a Klan offshoot, prompted the sons of a deceased Klan leader to describe to him life inside a Klan family and ask forgiveness for any evil deeds their father may have committed.
Stanley Nelson,reporterConcordia SentinelFerriday-Vidalia, LA
Jerry Mitchell,ReporterThe Clarion-LedgerJackson, MS
The revival of national interest in unsolved murders from the civil rights era begins with Jerry Mitchell, a dogged investigative reporter whose work for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, has won him many descriptions. “White traitor” is one. “The South’s Simon Weisenthal” is another. From his first civil rights story in 1989 revealing how the State of Mississippi secretly provided legal assistance to the man who murdered NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers in 1963, Mitchell has been more responsible than anyone for the trials and convictions of four Klansmen involved in some of the most heinous crimes of the 20th century. In 2009, Mitchell received a MacArthur "genius award" for his reporting on civil rights cold cases.
Ben Greenberg,ReporterHungryblues.netBoston, MA
For Ben Greenberg, unraveling unsolved civil rights murders is both a professional endeavor and a personal calling. Ben’s interest in the civil rights movement was triggered in part by his research into the life of his own father, Paul A. Greenberg, who had been a special assistant to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the early 1960s. Greenberg’s pursuit of that history has led him straight to the heart of the enduring mysteries that surround many unsolved murders in Southwest Mississippi, where Ku Klux Klan activity was especially virulent. For the past two years, Greenberg has been investigating cases from that area, including the 1964 murder of Clifton Walker, a black man who was shot in his car on a country road in Woodville, Mississippi.
John Fleming,ReporterThe Anniston StarAnniston, AL
John Fleming’s baptism in newspapers came early. His mother ran a small weekly newspaper in South Alabama, where John grew up seeing the crucial role solid journalism plays in the complex race-conscious society that is the Deep South. Fleming’s groundbreaking work on the 1965 shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Marion, whose death triggered the impulse for what became the Selma-to-Montgomery March, led prosecutors to bring charges against a former Alabama state trooper.
Melvin Claxton,ReporterDetroit Free PressDetroit, MI
Melvin Claxton is an author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Claxton began his journalism career at The Virgin Islands Daily News before holding senior investigative reporting positions at the Chicago Tribune, Detroit News, and Tennessean newspapers. He has written extensively on crime, corruption, and the abuse of political power. His series on the criminal justice system in the U.S. Virgin Islands won the V.I. Daily News a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1995. His series on the failures of the criminal justice system in Detroit was a finalist for a public service Pulitzer in 2003. He has won dozens of other prestigious national reporting awards, and his work has been honored ten times by the Associated Press Managing Editors.
Robert Rosenthal,Project Executive EditorCenter for Investigative ReportingBerkeley, CA
As CIR’s Executive Director, Robert (Rosey) Rosenthal is serving as the project’s executive editor. Rosenthal has worked for some of the most respected newspapers in the country, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and, most recently, the San Francisco Chronicle. Rosenthal, a former foreign correspondent based in Africa, worked for 22 years at the Inquirer, eventually serving as editor and executive vice president.
Hank Klibanoff,project managing editorAtlanta, GA
Born in Alabama, Hank Klibanoff grew up witnessing the civil rights movement, massive resistance and the evolution of race relations in the South. Those experiences, along with his 35 years as a newspaper reporter and editor in Mississippi, at The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, were key influences as he co-wrote The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation. The book won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for history.
David Paperny,Project Executive ProducerPaperny FilmsVancouver, BC Canada
David Paperny is the co-founder and lead partner of one of Canada's most respected and prolific television production companies. Paperny Films specializes in non-fiction programming and has produced over 25 original documentaries and 20 long-running series, winning Gemini Awards (Canada's Emmy), an Academy Award nomination and other honors. The company's programs have been commissioned by every major broadcast and cable network in Canada and sold around the world, including, in the U.S., HBO, PBS, Sundance Channel, Food Network, HGTV, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel.
Peter W. Klein,producerVancouver, Canada
Peter W. Klein is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer for some of the top investigative news units in the U.S. He exposed the racist militia group Army of Zion for 48 Hours, won an Emmy with Mike Wallace for their 60 Minutes investigation into the former Soviet Union’s smallpox weapons program, and shared another for the Learning Channel’s documentary Killer Virus. He has covered the Bosnian war and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, helped found New York Times Television, a pioneer of small-format TV newsgathering, and is creator and executive producer of the Emmy-nominated History Channel series Beyond Top Secret, which investigates clandestine operations around the world.
David Ridgen,FilmmakerToronto, Canada
Canadian filmmaker David Ridgen’s "Mississippi Cold Case," which won numerous investigative reporting and documentary awards, tells the forgotten story of the 1964 Ku Klux Klan murder of Charles Moore and Henry Dee, and leads to the discovery, indictment and conviction of the murderer. David worked with Moore’s brother, Thomas to re-open FBI files, lobby lawmakers, and confront the past. David’s earlier "Canadian Images of Vietnam" documented Canadian involvement in the U.S. war in Vietnam and his feature-length documentary about Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and their former homes in Israel won the prestigious Canadian Association of Journalists Award.
Pete Nicks,FilmmakerPiedmont, CA
Pete Nicks is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker who has produced a diverse array of projects for network, cable and public television. His first feature documentary, The Wolf, explored the collision of race, class and addiction through the personal prism of his addiction and incarceration in the late 1980s. Nicks’ "Blame Somebody Else" for the PBS series Expose won an Emmy for exposing the pipeline of illegal labor supporting the war effort in Iraq. He has also has produced and developed projects for ABC Nightline, PBS Frontline, MSNBC, Bill Moyers and HBO.
The Multimedia Producers
Brian Storm,Multimedia ProducerMediaStormNew York, NY
Based in New York City, MediaStorm is one of the world’s most innovative multimedia production companies. Led by multimedia pioneer Brian Storm, MediaStorm’s mission is to usher in the next generation of multimedia storytelling by publishing social documentary projects incorporating photojournalism, interactivity, animation, audio and video for distribution across multiple media. Their work provides readers with diverse and inspiring narratives that speak to the human condition. This team excels at taking large amounts of media in a variety of formats and creating feature-packed, user-friendly web experiences.
Carrie Ching,multimedia producerCenter for Investigative ReportingBerkeley, CA
Carrie produces and manages multimedia reports for the Center for Investigative Reporting and affiliated projects, including The Civil Rights Cold Case Project, California Watch, and The Price of Sex. Prior to joining CIR, Carrie was a magazine editor and newspaper reporter; she also produced video reports for Washingtonpost.com and Current TV. She completed a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley in 2005.
The Victims' Advocates
Thomas Moore,family member
Moore is a retired E-9 Command Sergeant-Major. His brother Charles was brutally murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. Through Moore’s efforts more than 43 years later and David Ridgen’s documentary about the case, Klansmen James Ford Seale was put to trial, convicted, and jailed for life. Spectacularly, Moore shook the hand of another Klansman responsible for the killings, forgiving him. For the Cold Case project, Moore will help us locate family members, shepherd the process of interaction, and advise the families throughout the investigation and the documentary filming.
Robert Lee III,Concordia Parish
Robert Lee III of Concordia Parish, La., witnessed firsthand the turbulent period of the Civil Rights era and Klan violence while growing up in his hometown of Clayton, La. The son and grandson of sharecroppers, his father was an NAACP leader and among the first black men to register to vote in Concordia Parish. A veteran of Vietnam, Lee returned home from military service only to learn that he was still a second class citizen. He knew Frank Morris, who was close friends with his parents, and Lee counted Joseph Edwards as a personal friend. He has devoted his time during the past months working with Cold Case reporters Ben Greenberg and Stanley Nelson and with the Syracuse University Cold Case Justice Initiative investigating Klan murders in Concordia Parish and southwestern Mississippi.
Thomas Blanton,advisorNational Security Archive
Tom Blanton is director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. A journalist and author, he won the George Polk Award in April 2000 for “piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth, and informing us all.” He is series editor of the Archive’s Web, CD-ROM, print and microform documentary publications totaling more than 500,000 pages obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. His articles have appeared in The International Herald-Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and many other publications. He is co-founder of freedominfo.org and co-chair of the public interest coalition, OpenTheGovernment.org, among many other professional activities.
Philip Dixon,advisorJohn H. Johnson School of Communications, Howard University
Phillip Dixon is chairman of the journalism department of the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University in Washington. Dixon was previously managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and also served as an editor at The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. He received his bachelors degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Illinois, and attended Temple University School of Law. He shared the Pulitzer Prize for general local reporting in 1980 for his work covering the Three Mile Island disaster.
Janis McDonald,advisorCold Case Justice Initiative, Syracuse University
Janis McDonald is the Bond, Schoeneck & King Distinguished Professor and the Co-Director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI) at Syracuse University. Professor McDonald and Professor Paula C. Johnson established CCJI in early 2007 to assist the families of those killed by acts of racial hatred and violence during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s. Through CCJI over fifty law students have volunteered to investigate long buried information that might help persuade the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice or local law enforcement officials to prosecute these long neglected murders. Before joining the law faculty, Professor McDonald was a member of the law firm of Hirschkop & Grad, P.C. in Alexandria, Virginia, where she litigated cases in the federal and local courts. She taught at Ohio Northern University College of Law and Yale Law School.
Paula Johnson,advisorUniversity Alabama, Syracuse
Paula Johnson is professor of law at Syracuse University College of Law. She also serves as the Sparks Chair at the University of Alabama School of Law. As Sparks Chair, she teaches criminal law and criminal procedure, and co-directs the Cold Case Justice Initiative with Syracuse University College of Law colleague Professor Janis L. McDonald. She also teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, voting rights, professional responsibility, and a seminar on women in the criminal justice system. She co-directed the Sierra Leone UN War Crimes Tribunal Project, within the Center for Global Law & Practice.
Margaret Burnham,advisorNortheastern University
Margaret Burnham is a Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law. She teaches constitutional and international criminal law and directs the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project. The Project is a resource for legal professionals, scholars, civil rights veterans and civic leaders who are addressing the failure of law enforcement and courts to protect civil rights activities during the 1950s and 1960s. Professor Burnham received her bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College outside Jackson, Mississippi, and was an activist in the 1960s Mississippi movement. She received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.