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Justice in Mississippi: The Murder Trial of Edgar Ray Killen [Hardcover]

Howard Ball
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

15 Nov 2006
The slaying of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1964 was a notorious event documented in Howard Ball's 2004 book "Murder in Mississippi". Now, Ball revisits that grisly crime to tell how, four decades later, justice finally came to Philadelphia. Originally tried in 1967, Baptist minister and Klansman Edgar Ray Killen was set free because one juror couldn't bring herself to convict a preacher. Now, Ball tells how progressive-minded state officials finally re-opened the case and, forty years after the fact, enabled Mississippians to reconcile with their tragic past. The second trial of 80-year-old "Preacher" Killen, who was convicted by a unanimous jury, took place in June 2005, with the verdict delivered on the forty-first anniversary of the crime. Ball, himself a former civil rights activist, attended the trial and interviewed most of the participants, as well as local citizens and journalists covering the proceedings. Ball retraces the cycle of events that led to the resurrection of this "cold case," from the attention generated by the film "Mississippi Burning" to a new state attorney general's quest for closure. He reviews the strategies of the prosecution and defense and examines the evidence introduced at the trial - as well as evidence that could not be presented - and also relates firsthand accounts of the proceedings, including his unnerving staring contest with Killen himself from only ten feet away. Ball explores the legal, social, political, and pseudo-religious roots of the crime, including the culture of impunity that shielded from prosecution whites who killed blacks or "outside agitators." He also assesses the transformation in Mississippi's life and politics that allowed such a case to be tried after so long. Indeed, the trial itself was a major catalytic force for change in Mississippi, enabling Mississippians to convey a much more positive national image for their state. Ball's gripping account illuminates all of this and shows that, despite racism's long stranglehold on the Deep South, redemption is not beyond the grasp of those who envision a more just society.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (15 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700614613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700614615
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,911,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"An electrifying, epic American saga of tragedy and transfiguration: the 40-year journey of Mississippi from homicidal police state to crucible of justice. Ball's authoritative account is peopled with a rich constellation of characters, from demonic Klansmen to determined Mississippi heroes to the shining spirits of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner, holding the vision of an America filled with goodness, love, and victory.... The arc of the moral universe is long, ' said Martin Luther King Jr., 'but it bends toward justice.'" -- William Doyle

About the Author

Howard Ball, professor of law at Vermont Law School and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Vermont, for many years taught at Mississippi State University. In addition to Murder in Mississippi (see page 37) he is the author of two dozen other books, including The Bakke Case: Race, Education, and Affirmative Action (see page 47) and A Defiant Life: Thurgood Marshall and the Persistence of Racism in America.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Edgar Ray Killen, the Preacher, is an eighty-year-old unapologetic Mississippi Klansman. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good riddance Killen! 30 Aug 2014
Pretty good. From Bradford-Huie's "Three Lives for Mississippi" to this we finally at least see one of those evil, vicious, KKK moron, murderers get what they deserve. Killen and his cronies will rot in hell where they belong.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unrepentant Terrorist is Brought to Justice 10 Feb 2007
By Bill Emblom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Edgar Ray Killen! Philadelphia, Mississippi! The names strike fear into those who remember the brutal slaying of three civil rights workers on June 21, 1964. Author Howard Ball follows up his previous book entitled Murder in Mississippi with a retrial of "Preacher" Edgar Ray Killen who was one vote from conviction by a jury in 1967. A woman, who has since regretted her vote, said she couldn't bring herself to convict a preacher. The author provides us with the virulent atmosphere that prevailed in the deep south in the 1960's and the attitudes of those who resented anyone poking their collective noses into their way of life. Many of those who were convicted in the 1967 trial received light sentences and resumed their way of life upon release from prison. For 41 years Mr. Killen was able to enjoy the life of a quasi-celebrity in his home town while others feared to even mention the terrible deed that hung over the town of Philadelphia's reputation. Upon Killen's conviction in 2005 racist Richard Barrett requested a "Killen Appreciation Day" on the lawn of the Neshoba County Courthouse so people could come around and shake this terrorist's hand. Such actions make one wonder just how far we still have to go to bring individuals kicking and screaming out of their sordid past. This is a book that will absolutely disgust you while still providing you with some sense of justice in this country however belatedly it may have occurred.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect resource! 13 Mar 2013
By M. Swartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I used this book as a reference while teaching my students about the Civil Rights Movement. This was an excellent source for them!
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