The work of a longtime Louisiana newspaper editor will be included Tuesday in a PBS “Frontline” documentary about the 1967 Ku Klux Klan murder of Wharlest Jackson, a 37-year-old black man in Natchez. , Mississippi.
Jackson, who had five children, was treasurer of the Natchez NAACP. He was killed when a bomb placed under his truck exploded on his way home from work.
Editor Stanley Nelson researched the Jackson case and other Klan murders for many years before retiring from the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday in December.
Nelson was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for his work on a similar case, and he’s written two books about Civil Rights-era cold-blooded killings. He also helped found the LSU Cold Case Project at the Manship School of Mass Communication, where he works as an adjunct professor.
Titled “American Reckoning,” the Frontline film also follows the work of Jackson’s wife, Exerlena, a civil rights activist who has since died.
In the film, the couple’s surviving children tell the story of their family and their quest to seek justice for their father.
The show will air nationally on Tuesday at 9 p.m. central time. It can be seen on Louisiana Public Broadcasting stations throughout the state.
The Jackson documentary is part of Frontline’s cross-platform Un(re)solved initiative which investigates civil rights-era cold cases.
The show examines the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act – signed into law in 2008 – in which the FBI reviewed or investigated dozens of murders involving more than 100 victims at the time. Almost all cases from the 1960s investigated by the FBI remain unsolved.
Cynthia Deitle, who led the FBI’s cold case effort, said she felt the FBI should have done more in modern investigations.
“I feel like I’ve let families down, I feel like I’ve let communities down,” she says in the film.
According to Frontline, the film includes never-before-seen film footage from the Ed Pincus Collection at Tulane University’s Amistad Research Center. The footage, from 1965 and 1967, provides a window into the black vigilante movement in Natchez as well as Jackson’s funeral and its aftermath.
“Woven alongside interviews with family members, experts and witnesses, American Reckoning shines a light on the life and legacy of Wharlest Sr. – including his work with the Deacons for Defense, an advocacy organization. black men who armed themselves to protect activists and their community from racist violence, and the NAACP, which led boycotts for civil rights change in Natchez.
“American Reckoning” also explores the formation of the Silver Dollar Group Klan and follows Nelson’s reporting that links the murders of Jackson and others to underground Klan terrorists, who as a sign of unity carried minted silver dollars. year of their birth.
No arrests were ever made in Jackson’s homicide, although Raleigh Jackson “Red” Glover, a Natchez Klansman who died decades ago, was the FBI’s prime suspect in the murder.
LSU’s Cold Case reporters investigated the Jackson case and released a four-part series on Deacons for Defense and Justice in 2020.
Student journalists also wrote a four-part series last fall about a 1960 bloodbath near Monroe in which a white employer, Robert Fuller, shot and killed five of his black employees, killing four, in a dispute over salary arrears.
The seriousness raised serious questions about Fuller’s claim of self-defense and the quality of justice at the time. Fuller became a head of state of the original Ku Klux Klan Knights.
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