Saturday, December 24, 2005

National Security Agency and the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission: deja vu all over again

In secret, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission (1956-1977) harassed and spied on Civil Rights activists and quiet citizens as well, branding many of them racial agitators and communist infiltrators. After a 21 year long legal battle the ACLU was able to get thousands of files released. Shades of current National Security Agency domestic spying activities?

Domestic spying? It happened in Mississippi not so long ago

(December 27, 2005) --The volume of information gathered from telephone and Internet communications by the National Security Agency without court-approved warrants was much larger than the White House has acknowledged The New York Times reports. While mention of Watergate and impeachment may pervade the holiday’s political ether, it is a familiar story when compared to revelations of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, a retired Civil Rights-era spy agency specifically created to maintain segregation and white supremacy.

Mississippi leaders, public and private, established the commission in 1956 to spy on citizens and deal with anyone, black or white, who challenged Jim Crow segregation. Former FBI and military intelligence gatherers and paid informers hired by the commission (including school superintendents, college officials, ministers, teachers and others, black and white) were used to hassle Civil Rights workers and individuals, the records show. Files were accumulated that violated individual privacy and that could be used to destroy and even kill those who advocated for social change; the commission was authorized to “do and perform any and all acts and things deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi, and her sister states, from encroachment thereon by the Federal Government.”

The actions of the Sovereignty Commission were secret and known to only a select few in state government, including the governor who was a commission member. It was a small agency with tremendous influence on the state -- its culture and politics in the late 1950s and 1960s. Nearly every county and town throughout the state was infiltrated but most citizens had no idea of the commission’s existence. Those who worked for voting rights were spied on and taken down. Outspoken academics, doctors who treated people who were brutally beaten by the Klan or police, ministers who registered voters, sympathetic journalists and so many others were watched and reported on. Their color often did not matter. If they tried to influence social change -- to bring down Jim Crow -- they were ruined. Driven out of the state or much worse.

The worse came as the commission documented the whereabouts, finances and sexual habits of civil rights leaders. Some of the information was fed to employers and the Ku Klux Klan. Untold numbers of people were fired and others beaten and perhaps even killed after becoming targeted by the commission‘s spies and investigators.

Vernon Dahmer Sr. of Hattiesburg was probably a Sovereignty Commission victim; the commission’s files certainly reflect constant interest in the NAACP leader. In January 1966 two carloads of thugs tossed lighted Molotov cocktails into his home. Dahmer had announced earlier that day that poll taxes could be paid at his shop. Dahmer shot at the attackers while his family escaped, but Dahmer died of smoke inhalation later that day. Four men were convicted in the case while several others escaped trial. Former Klan Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers, believed to be the mastermind, was freed after two mistrials.

The same day of Dahmer’s death, two Charleston women were murdered and mutilated by Klansmen as they returned home from a Jackson meeting with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Both women had Sovereignty Commission files; both were early voting rights advocates. The bodies of Birdia Keglar and Adlena Hamlett were both found decapitated. Hamlett, a retired teacher in her mid seventies, had both of her arms cleanly severed from her body, relatives and her minister say. The deaths were formally reported by highway patrolmen as resulting from a car accident. It was later determined by the FBI that dozens of Mississippi patrolmen, particularly in the Mississippi Delta, were also Klansmen.

Hundreds of Sovereignty Commission records show continued spying on a white minister, Horace Germany, whose crime was to try and build a small, self-contained college for black missionary-ministers who would also be trained in agriculture. At graduation, students were to go into rural areas of the state and teach poor blacks how to feed their families. The Mississippi native was beaten nearly to death by Klansmen. Other of the Sovereignty Commission’s 132,000 pages made public shed light on the abuse of power by those in charge. For instance,

The successful trial of Byron de la Beckwith, officially the man who murdered early civil rights hero Medgar Evers, finally came about in 1994, after two mistrials three decades earlier, when released Sovereignty Commission records revealed previous jury tampering by one of the commission’s agents. Evers, a 37-year-old NAACP field secretary who pushed for an end to segregation, had stepped out of his Oldsmobile when he was shot in the back on June 12, 1963. He was walking to his house with an armful of "Jim Crow Must Go" T-shirts.

Another Sovereignty Commission report dated in March 1964 shows that one of Mississippi’s most ardent racists, W.J. Simmons, was able to get his hands on grand jury testimony about Evers that included “considerable information relative to the NAACP in Mississippi in this testimony.” Simmons, once tagged "extremist … even by Mississippi standards" by the New York Times, was considered the shadow ruler behind Governor Barnett who fought James Meredith’s entry into the University of Mississippi.

Years earlier, on September 18, 1959, commission records show that Simmons contacted the commission about an upcoming Southern Christian Ministers Conference of Mississippi that included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. along with other speakers from around the country. Simmons wanted "these speakers coming here from out of the state … harassed as much as possible.”

Regular people were spied on, too -- ordinary, middle-class folks who sometimes were NAACP members back then. These were not front-line activists but were people like the parents of Ralph Eubanks, a native of Mount Olive Mississippi and director of publishing at the Library of Congress. Eubanks wrote about his early life in Mississippi and the later impact of learning that his parents were spied on. In Ever is a Long Time, Eubanks told how an internet search took him to the Mississippi chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union where he discovered an Orwellian list of the 87,000- names collected by the Sovereignty Commission during its existence. Included were the names of his parents: Warren Eubanks and Lucille Eubanks.

Eubanks recalled feeling physically ill when he discovered how close his own parents came to crossing the line. Both were quiet members of the NAACP through their church; they were not civil rights activists in any way, but just quiet people who wanted to see social change. When Eubanks returned to Mississippi in the late 1990s, he found an atmosphere that was still uneasy about his mixed marriage; he and his wife were mistreated in a bed and breakfast, once the innkeeper saw them together. Eubanks left his home state believing that little had really changed in the hearts and minds of white Mississippians.

In Mississippi there remain dozens of unexamined brutalities including the 1997 murder of Cleve McDowell, a civil rights attorney who was close to both Evers and Meredith. McDowell was the first black graduate student in Mississippi; he was admitted to the James O. Eastland School of Law just as Meredith was leaving “Ole Miss.” Twice I’ve been refused access to McDowell’s records by the district attorney in Sunflower County where McDowell was murdered, even though he had been dead for over five years. The law school has also refused sharing any of McDowell’s records, including a letter of recommendation by the dean after McDowell was kicked out.

But after pulling other records surrounding the crime and speaking to McDowell’s friends and associates, it is obvious there are many unanswered questions about his more recent death: McDowell’s best friend, a Montgomery, Alabama attorney, also born in Drew, Mississippi, was murdered three years before McDowell was killed. His death was reported a suicide but after speaking to half a dozen people in both states it is apparent that McDowell saw his friend’s body and realized this was not a suicide. McDowell, reporting evidence of torture, told a minister friend that he would be murdered next.

McDowell’s files that he stored in piles of boxes in his Drew officer over the years -- records he gathered for his own investigations on the murders of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers and others active in the Civil Rights Movement -- were burned in a fire during the same week the first batch of Sovereignty Commission files were released to the public in 1998, six months after McDowell was killed. Some suggest the fire was perhaps a ruse, used to steal McDowell’s records.

Mississippi’s past is too often its present; too many questions from the past remain unanswered. Too few racist attitudes have changed in this state that continues to suffer from horrific poverty, the poorest education and all of the accompanying results. But even worse, we seem to have a much larger sovereignty commission operating throughout our entire country. I only hope that we take heed from Mississippi’s mistakes. This must be our new year's goal. The most important one of all.
* * *

Susan Klopfer is an author, journalist and blogger. The former Prentice-Hall editor is the author of two new civil rights books, “Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited” and “The Emmett Till Book.” She lived on the grounds of Parchman Penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta for two years while writing her books. Klopfer maintains blogs on Emmett Till, Murders Around Mississippi, and Voting Rights and is currently working on a book that focuses on Mississippi Delta cold case files. Her web page is at She can be contacted by email at and by telephone at 775-340-3585.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Likes of FEMA?

FEMA ... (shades of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission?)

"FEMA had one original concept when it was created, to assure the survivability of the United States government in the event of a nuclear attack on this nation. It was also provided with the task of being a federal coordinating body during times of domestic disasters, such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes.

"Its awesome powers grow under the tutelage of people like Lt. Col. Oliver North and General Richard Secord, the architects on the Iran-Contra scandal and the looting of America's savings and loan institutions. FEMA has even been given control of the State Defense Forces, a rag-tag, often considered neo-Nazi, civilian army that will substitute for the National Guard, if the Guard is called to duty overseas.

Though it may be the most powerful organization in the United States, few people know it even exists. But it has crept into our private lives. Even mortgage papers contain FEMA's name in small print if the property in question is near a flood plain. FEMA was deeply involved in the Los Angeles riots and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area."

(FEMA - The Secret Government, By Harry V. Martin with research assistance from David Caul, Copyright FreeAmerica and Harry V. Martin, 1995)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

"Dixieland apartheid's number one organization man"

One of Mississippi’s "most ardent racists," W.J. Simmons, was once referred to as "Dixieland apartheid’s number one organization man" by a political journalist and then tagged "extremist … even by Mississippi standards" by the New York Times.[1]

So who was Simmons and how could one man provoke such reactions? Is it important to know who he was, anyway?

Simmons, considered the “shadow ruler behind Governor Barnett,”[2] had quickly usurped Patterson’s power and prestige, becoming the chief organizer and administrator of the Citizens Councils of America. (Tut Patterson had earlier founded the Councils, himself.)

Further, Simmons later inherited control of a large portion of Wycliffe Draper’s resources,[3] likely making his first contact with Draper via Senator James O. Eastland.

Besides being adept at usurping power, not much else is really known about Simmons’ background. During World War II, he served as a civilian with the Royal Engineers of the British Army and later briefly in the U. S. Navy. Simmons told others that his views on race hardened while he was in Jamaica, claiming that “a caste system had sprung up there among Negroes of various shades creating, endless problems,” wrote George Thayer in The Farther Shores of Politics: The American Political Fringe Today.[4]

It was easy to see why national publications tagged Simmons as an extremist: As editor of The Citizen, the Citizens Council’s official publication, Simmons – “perhaps the Councils’ most indefatigable speaker…reflecting much of the members’ attitudes” according to Thayer – editorially asserted that a “three-pronged attack” was being mounted against constitutional freedoms, “beginning with an attempt to reach an agreement with Soviet Russia, and including recognition of that country and the Test Ban Treaty.”

Simmons once advised “an attack was under way on the white race, that all races were to be submerged in a sea of egalitarianism through integration … to be ruled by a liberal elite in a planned society.”

His articles for the Citizens Councils newsletters typically ranged from school segregation to “the lower intelligence” of black children. One entire issue of the newsletter was devoted to “How to Start a Private School,” reflecting a major objective of Simmons and the Citizens Councils. The editor also wrote such pamphlets as “Why Segregation Is Right” that could be purchased by Councilors."

Perhaps coincidentally, Simmons shared the same name as the Methodist preacher from Alabama who in 1915 reorganized the Ku Klux Klan in the South after it had nearly collapsed. When Rutgers University researcher William Tucker asked Simmons if he was related to the earlier “W. J. Simmons” of Alabama, the retired Citizens Councils administrator would only say he didn’t “talk about the old days.” (The consensus is that Simmons is “probably not” related.)

Numerous Sovereignty Commission files show that Simmons spied on civil rights groups, shared information with agencies including the Commission, and was not bashful in asking that civil rights advocates be harassed.[5]

In March 1964, another Sovereignty Commission report showed Simmons was able to get his hands on grand jury testimony about Medgar Evers. Zack J. Van Landingham, a Sovereignty Commission investigator, reported having a meeting with district Attorney Bob Nichols 'with reference to the testimony of Medgar Evers before a Grand Jury in Hinds County some months ago'. [6]

From the report ...

“Mr. Nichols advised that he had furnished copies of this testimony to Mr. W.J. Simmons, head of the Citizens’ Council, and Governor J.P. Coleman. He said he had only 1 copy left. I told him I would endeavor to get hold of Governor Coleman’s copy. Mr. Nichols stated that if I was unsuccessful in securing the Governor’s copy to come see him again, and he would see that I got a copy….Mr. Nichols advised that there was considerable information relative to the NAACP in Mississippi in this testimony. He said, however, that Evers had been caught in several lies in giving this testimony.”

Years earlier, on September 18, 1959, Van Landingham reported that Simmons contacted him about an upcoming Southern Christian Ministers Conference of Mississippi that included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. along with other speakers from around the country. Simmons wanted "these speakers coming here from out of the state … harassed as much as possible.”

Simmons specifically wanted Dr. King “arrested by the police, taken down, fingerprinted and photographed … [and] had already conferred with Chief of Detectives Pierce about such procedures.”

Van Landingham reported to the Commission that he spoke with Sam Ivy, director of the Bureau of Identification and "Arrangements were made whereby we could use the recording instrument of the Mississippi Highway Patrol…. I will take some steps to see what pressure can be brought to bear on any of [the speakers] and possibly get the meeting cancelled.”[7]

(Excerpt from "Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited," Susan Klopfer, 2005.)

[1] McMillen, 123; “Racists’ Strategy,” New York Times, September 28, 1962, 22.
[2] William Doyle, “The Making of an American Insurrection,” essay.
[3] Tucker.
[4] Thayer.
[5] The twelve members of the Sovereignty Commission, created by the Mississippi legislature in 1956, included the governor, lieutenant governor, and several legislators. The purpose of the Commission was to prevent outsiders from changing Mississippi’s Southern or segregationist way of life. It was supposed to publicize how well segregation worked and secretly keep watch over those who tried to overturn the system. When it was closed down in 1973, investigators had amassed files on 87,000 people. It was the largest state-level spying effort in the nation’s history, though some other states had lesser efforts of the same sort.
[6] Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission file(s)SCR ID # 1-23-0-33-1-1-1.
[7] Sovereignty Commission, memo to director from Zack J. Landingham, September 18, 1959. SCR ID # 1-15-0-7-3-1-1

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Birdia Keglar's Mississippi Murder

An old Mississippi Delta crime is now drawing some attention ...


New office would open cold cases from civil rights era
Scripps Howard News Service
September 29, 2005

WASHINGTON - In the Mississippi Delta during the tumultuous 1960s, voting rights advocate Birdia Keglar never made it home after meeting with then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Highway patrolmen said Keglar, a businesswoman and the first black person in her county to vote since Reconstruction, and her friend Adena Hamlett, an elderly former teacher, died in a car accident.

But when the bodies of the two black women were found they bore the signs of intentional mutilation and murder. The fact that both had been warned by the Ku Klux Klan to stop pushing for voting rights added to the suspicion they had been killed.

Nearly 40 years after their deaths on Jan. 11, 1966, the case has remained unsolved, and essentially uninvestigated until the publication this year of "Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited" by author Susan Klopfer, who also probed other still-open violent crimes from that era.

Now, a bipartisan push has begun in Congress to create a new Department of Justice office that would be dedicated solely to investigating such very cold civil rights cases.


This story continues ...


Here's a link to earlier "Birdia" files in the Sovereignty Commission files. She made the wrong people angry ... Look for "Keglar" and "Kegler."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Secrecy? "Understand Mississippi and ..."

There's a saying that goes ... "Understand Mississippi and you understand all of Democracy." Maybe this saying actually makes some sense when trying to understand FEMA:

"This article on FEMA by Harry V. Martin documents why it can't handle
hurricane relief: because its real function is as part of the NSC/Secret
Government and precious little of its funds actually go to disaster
relief. Most funds go to building underground bunkers for government
officials, planning and preparing for martial law, etc. It has existed
under different names since the outbreak of the Cold War, became FEMA
under Jimmy Carter, and failed the test sufficiently during Hurricane
Andrew that all the stuff documented in the article came out. It also
makes clear why it was so easy to transfer Director Brown back to DC and
turn the N.O. relief effort over to the Coast Guard. Nothing truly
new in it but extremely worthwhile and for those directly in N.O. or the
other Gulf disaster areas, immediately politically informative." (From the SNCC discussion group)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Petal Paper ...

There were so few journalists in Mississippi when they were needed the most.

But Percy Dale East, editor and publisher of a weekly paper really knew how to make his presence known ...

Dale later wrote an autobiography - "The Magnolia Jungle" - that captured national interest and caught the eye of Sovereignty Commission investigators, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Are there Mississippi ties to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? Sovereignty Records reveal some interesting possibilities...

This records takes at look at "Thomas Edward Beckham" who was "suspected of having former contacts as being in the possession of valuable information" by then Louisiana District Attorney Jim Garrison.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Eugenics, The Pioneer Fund and Mississippi

Date: Wed, 15 Feb 1995 16:21:46 -0800 Subject: Pioneer Fund, 187 and Eugenics The Pioneer: "Question: What do the following interrlated things have in common?

1) Proposition 187 on the California Ballot: The Illegal Immigrants Law?
2) Oliver J. North, the current Va. Senatorial candidate and convicted felon?
3) The current book: 'The Bell Curve' by Chas. Murray and Richard Hernnstein?
4) Adolph Hitler's Laws against the Prevention of Hereditarily Ill Progeny?
5) Numerous acts of Civil Rights violence during the 1960's and 1970's?
6) William Shockley's studies on the alleged genetic inferiority of blacks?
7) The Lynchburg Colony in Va. where over 8,000 were involuntarily sterilized?
8) All of the successful Senate campaigns of North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms.
9) The attempted takeover of CBS in 1985 led by Jesse Helms and Thomas Ellis.
10) The violent strike busting tactics that occurred at J.P. Stevens in N.C.?
11) American Mercury, the anti-everything Birchite magazine of Liberty Lobby?
12) Human Events, the reactionary right-wing publication of the 40's and 50's?
13) International Association for the Advancement of Eugenics and Ethnology?
14) The McCarran-Walter Act, the McCarran-Wood Act, the Taft-Hartley Act?
15) The character assassination plot against Alger T. Hiss by Nathaniel Weyl?
16) Pogroms by Joseph McCarthy, HUAC and Senate Internal Security Committees?
17) The plot to terminate with prejudice the President of the United States?
18) The Liberty Lobby, the John Birch Society and the Constitution Party?

Answer: They ALL received funding, either partly or completely, from:

'THE PIONEER FUND', an IRS tax-exempt foundation and trust ..."

Of which:

Sen. James O. Eastland was a member of the fund's board of directors, helping to bring millions of dollars of Draper money into Mississippi to help fund the state's fight against civil rights and to directly fund the first dozen private, segregated white academies.

This is an organization with a long history in Mississippi, a relationship that continues ...

While Draper is not to be found in the Sovereignty Commission files, records involving Draper's lawyer (Harry Weyher) are easy to look up ... Weyher

More Weyher ...

(This topic is covered further in 'Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited.')

Politics of Tokenism in Mississippi's Delta

Sovereignty Commission Online
Following Brown v Topeka, researchers for the U. S. Office of Education performed ten studies thrughout the country looking at school integration. One nine-page report by sociologists from the University of Wisconsin was placed into Sovereignty Commission files by Erle Johnston.

"Token school desegregation comes to the Delta, but quality and opportunity are still low," Michael Aiken and N. J. Demerath III reported.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online/ M. G. Lowman "FOS"

M. G. Lowman, a friend of John Satterfield, made numerous "runs" around Mississippi to speak out against communists and the Methodist Church, among other topics. The Sovereignty Commission provided his transportation, using a civil defense vehicle and sovereignty commission agent (reported in various sovereignty commission files under M. G. Lowman).

On a social network diagram using "proximity software" connections are made between the Lowman, the Liberty Lobby, John Satterfield (former ABA head, led state battle against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, "worked" for the Sovereignty Commission), Guy Banister (implicated in the Kennedy assassination, friend of John D. Sullivan), Willis Carto and the American Committee to Free Cuba. The software that I refer to is found at

In the following document, Lowman lies about receiving any assistance from the Sovereignty Commission:

Continued ...

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
"Communism in the Methodist Church," a 12-page speech by John W. Moore before the Brookhaven, Mississippi congregation. The name M. G.Lowman is mentioned, a name that is interestingly linked with John Satterfield...

Go here ...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Confessions of the Emmett Till Killers

Emmett Till Case:

"I read the 'Confessions' of the killers of Till. It is a chilling account of how peckerwoods in the South think and act. There is one puzzling aspect of the ' Confessions' that I can't fathom. Why would any young person raised in the south urge a (relative?) young boy on to certain danger by daring him to try and court a white woman. This doesn't ring true.

"Bobo's mother tried to instill in him how dangerous the South was. It is quite possible that Bo would test the dangerous waters of the Southland being from up North. But would a group of young blacks, primarily black boys, raised under the pall of white hot racism do such a thing? Remember, these kids did not think of racism as some kind of imaginary bogey man.

"They had seen the fear in the eyes of their own fathers and grandfathers. Robert Johnson, the blues singer, called white racism a hell hound bent on tearing a black man to pieces. They-themselves-knew what segregation meant.

"There are several other aspects of the ' Confessions' that I also find troubling. The idea that Till was not afraid contradicts the earlier statement that he 'wanted to go home.' The whole idea that they were out to frighten Bo doesn't make sense. When they entered his room in darkness, Bo had to be frightened. He would have undoubtedly known that something was up when his killers did not 'whip' him on the spot. He had most likely been infected by the fear of those around him"

Continued ...

Sovereignty Commission Report, 1964-1967

Sovereignty Commission Online

"The Civil Rights Act of 1964 as passed by the Congress is the law of the land and Mississippi knows it. Most Mississippians do not like the new law." Governor Paul Johnson

18-page report, covering period of 1964-1967, Sovereignty Commission

Continue ...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Always intriguing, working for the right to vote in Mississippi. In this Sovereignty Commission report, an outsider from Harvard University comes into Leflore County to do an investigation ...

Continued ...

United Front Against Integration


Ben Greenberg at HungryBlues has been looking into the Sovereignty Commission. At one point, the hope was for all of the Southern States to "become sovereign" as well, with their own Commission structures:

"Spirit Of Cooperation

JAY HUGHES, Associated Press Writer
(03-18) 14:24:14 - 1998

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Even as the tide of civil rights swelled in the late 1960s, Southern states linked forces to mount a unified front against integration. "

Continued ...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Charlie Capps, head of the state Sheriff's Association in 1964, called on his fellow officers to support Sheriff Rainey of Neshoba County after he was arrested and charged with involvement in the Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman murder.

"Sheriff Rainey needs our help... Also, you know Sheriff (Odell) Anders down in Natchez. They've got him in the middle down there."

Continue ...

Monday, July 04, 2005

"Partial List of Racial Murders" listed by the Sovereignty Commission

HungryBlues: Susan Klopfer's third blog: Mississippi Sovereignty Commission:

Here is a "Partial list of racial murders" contained in Sovereignty Commission Files. The more I look at these files, the angrier I get at media reporters who termed these files nothing more than "keystone cops" at work. I've never noticed keystone cops getting into murder...

Go Here ...

"Follow the Money" (Now where have we heard this before?)

Sovereignty Commission Online

Like they say, follow the money ...

Erle Johnston got upset when an enterprising reporter, Ben Franklin (no kidding), NYT found the Sovereignty Commission laundering money...

Continue ...

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Here is quite an amazing 5-page letter written by John Synon (head of CCFAF, the organization funded by Wycliffe Draper and the Citizens Councils to fight the Civil Rights Act of 1964). It calls for a "continuing" organization ...

Continue ...

Reports detail another incident

Reports detail another incident:
(Not a Sovereignty Commission story, but interesting anyway ...)

"Reports detail another incident
The Natchez Democrat

CENTREVILLE -- Allegations of the mass slaughter of black soldiers by military police at Camp Van Dorn in 1943 have never been proven. And the Army claims to have conducted an extensive study in 1999 refuting those allegations.

But military police were involved in at least one wrongful act at Camp Van Dorn, the Centreville Jeffersonian reported in its July 14, 1944 editions.
According to the report, Major Louis R. Lefkoff, 34, of Atlanta, was court-martialed and found guilty of ordering the flogging of several soldiers confined at the Camp Van Dorn stockade.

Testimony at Lefkoff's trial showed six white prisoners and three black prisoners were beaten at Lefkoff's command after being labeled 'trouble-makers.'
Military police carried out the corporal punishment -- forbidden by the military -- after a stockade guard refused to comply with Lefkoff's order, the report stated."

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Constable tags visiting black attorney for a "whipping." Must spend four months in an integrated federal prison.

Here's some advice he receives from a Sovereignty Commission agent...

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
A COINTELPRO operation mounted against Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? With assistance from a Sovereignty Commission agent (formerly of the FBI)? Leaves one wondering just who Mr. Scarbrough was taking his orders from ...

Continued ..

Friday, July 01, 2005

New book describes Sovereignty Commission Posted by Picasa

Book Announcement:

Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited
is now available in book and/or a download PDF file.

You can use this link
to order directly from the publisher

OR choose this link to read the foreword (and then order). Cards and PayPal are accepted. If this doesn't work for you, send me e-mail.

After 23 months of research and writing, Where Rebels Roost features

--A Nine-page Selected Bibliography/Citations: 73 Books; 3 Dissertations; 47 Articles; 32 Collections, Interviews, Oral Histories

--Twenty-pages/ Lists of Dead/References 900+ names and information of African Americans lynched and murdered in Mississippi from 1870 to 1970 (references Southern Law & Poverty Center, NAACP, Tuskegee Institute, individual family and friends, personal research)

--Sixteen-page/160+ Names of Emmett Till Principles/Names and biographies of people close to this case, from lawyers, witnesses, judges and jurors to police, politicians, friends and families.

--And over one hundred specific Sovereignty Commission Documents, cited with references given (plus over 1,000 footnotes!),

But more important are the stories of some very unique, persevering and brave people – stories that deserve to be told. I hope you enjoy this read as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

Email me if you have any questions.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Two years after the murders ... a shoot-out in Philadelphia (Sept. 29, 1966)

Continued ...

Details on Philadelphia Murders

Sovereignty Commission Online

In this fascinating report, investigator Hopkins on Jan. 26, 1965, gives more specifics on the lynching of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney. Hopkins also reports that James Jordan was questioned for ten hours and offered bribes to tell what he knew.

Continued ...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Book Review: "The Informant"

"White liberals and moderates were driven to cover by “respectable” White Citizens Councils throughout the Bible Belt. For those of us who were in the South before and after the civil rights battle began, it is easy to believe James Silver, an Ole Miss historian, was right on the mark when he called Mississippi (and could have added Alabama as well) a 'closed society.'” (Murray Polner)

Review of Gary May's "The Informant: The FBI, The Ku Klux Klan, and The Murder of Viola Liuzzo," (Yale University Press, 2005)

Gary May, Professor of History at the University of Delaware, has also written China Scapegoat: The Diplomatic Ordeal of John Carter Vincent, about a foreign service officer and veteran China hand, fired by rampaging McCarthyites and also Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington, another victim of the domestic Cold War then raging.

He now turns his attention to the civil rights era in Alabama when a Detroit housewife, Viola Liuzzo, a mother of five, was killed after she went South to do her bit to help win voting rights for blacks.

Like millions of Americans who watched on TV, Liuzzo was incensed and shocked by the violence against civil rights marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. There, police and state troopers wielding whips, baseball bats, cattle prods, and then using tear gas attacked the marchers. It was quickly dubbed Bloody Sunday.

Born into a poor family, Liuzzo spent her early years in Georgia and Tennessee. “Experience had taught her,” May notes, “to be an underdog fighting the injustices of an indifferent world, although the family didn’t embrace the racism that often characterized impoverished southern whites.” Inspired by the Pettus assault, she left her family and studies at Wayne State University for Alabama to work for civil rights for the people she watched being assailed on TV. Almost at the same time, a white Unitarian minister James Reeb, unjustly forgotten, was struck by four thugs as his murderer screamed while he lay dying on a Southern street, his skull fractured, “Here’s how it feels to be a nigger down here.”

The Informants is a model of painstaking historical research coupled with an exemplary writing style, vivid, dramatic, and suspenseful. Serious historical writing May proves need not be dull.

What is new and different about the book are May’s portraits of Klan members and primarily the FBI informant, Gary Thomas Rowe, a violent, angry liar, who loved nothing better than hanging around cops, was planted inside the Klan, in Bessemer, Alabama, where many members and sympathizers worked in the steel mills, their activities often approved, subtly and otherwise, by Birmingham’s ruling elite. (Readers might also turn to Diane McWhorter’s fascinating Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution).

White liberals and moderates were driven to cover by “respectable” White Citizens Councils throughout the Bible Belt. For those of us who were in the South before and after the civil rights battle began, it is easy to believe James Silver, an Ole Miss historian, was right on the mark when he called Mississippi (and could have added Alabama as well) a “closed society.” Two rabbis in Jackson and Hattiesburg, Perry Nussbaum and Charles Mantinband, for example, publicly denounced the bigoted underclass but also went directly after their far wealthier supporters. It’s easy to forget what the Deep South was like during those years. Both states were under the control of the most lawless elements. A police state, a white southerner called it. Another described it as fascism. Whatever it was, phones were tapped, mail opened, faculty fired for expressing dissenting opinions, and clergy warned. If not acquiescence, then silence was demanded—and too often received.

Still, some whites tried to fight back. David R. Davies’ excellent paper, “Missisippi Journalists, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Closed Society, 1960-1964,” presented at the 1994 convention of the American Journalism Historian Association, describes “five newspaper editors who befriended blacks and challenged the racial mores of Mississippi” even though their papers struggled against the loss of advertisers and readers. Hodding Carter Jr.’s Delta Democrat-Times managed to hang on. One who did not was P.D. East and his Petal Paper, once posted a fake ad in 1957 “offering prime lumber for making crosses” to be burned on front lawns and then, his circulation sinking, fled to Alabama.

A strange choice, perhaps, but after all East was a born and bred southerner once part of the disappearing southern working class white liberals. Certainly, Alabama was no better with George Wallace as its Governor and sheriffs like Bull Connor and Jim Clark dominating their counties. It is in this environment of poor white class resentments and the devastating history of slavery that the fourth wave of the Klan could rise again and flourish, even into the north and Middle West.

To the FBI, under the unaccountable J. Edgar Hoover, never a supporter of the civil rights movement, was handed the task of rooting out the Klan. As they had done inside the Communist Party (Victor Navasky, in his recent book A Matter of Opinion, quotes a former FBI agent poking fun writing in The Nation about the use of CP informants: “through its dues-paying FBI contingent, it had become he largest single financial contributor to the coffers of the Communist Party”) and also within anti-Vietnam War ranks, they recruited spies, paying them, rendering them immune to persecution for crimes they might commit, and hoping for positive results.

The problem, as May points out, is that Rowe, a member of Eastview Klavern No. 13 in Bessemer, rose rapidly within Klan ranks. He joined in meting out savage beatings of blacks and white sympathizers. When the Klan beat Freedom Riders badly in the Birmingham bus terminal in 1961, none of the attackers, including Rowe, were deemed culpable, because local police were in on the plot. The FBI, which had advance knowledge about the assault, refused to intervene because they wanted Klan members to trust Rowe. May speculates that Rowe may well have been involved in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham where four small black girls died. “Hoover,” May goes on, “blocked persecution…in part to protect Rowe” and another FBI snitch, who was even more dangerous than Rowe.

He also suggests, but cannot prove, that while Rowe was present in the automobile shadowing Liuzzo’s car, he urged another Klan member to kill Liuzzo. Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center once accurately portrayed Rowe as “a loud, bragging, know-it-all thug who had been made a hero for what would have sent most men to prison.”

But thanks to Gary May, we do know that the murder of Viola Liuzzo took a devastating toll on her family. Some misguided Americans wrote her family obscene and bigoted letters and castigating their husband and mother for going South to help other Americans.

For May, this business of using criminals as spies raises “the use of questionable, even illegal means to achieve a beneficial end,” a question he later suggests raises a new set of questions in today’s “war against terrorism.”

During the sixties, the FBI claimed to have 2,000 Rowe-like informers inside various Klan groups. Much about them is still secret. The FBI will not allow researchers access to their files, information how well or badly they did, and what crimes, if any, they committed while serving as informers. “It is unlikely that such records will become available to historians in the near future,” May explains, “because the Bureau fiercely guards informant identities and activities.”

Posted by Murray Polner on Sunday, June 19, 2005 at 4:23 PM
Amazon Link

Friday, June 24, 2005

One apology fits all?

While surfing through Sovereignty Commission documents, I ran into this eight page speech. No title, no authorship is listed. But it is quite interesting. As you read through, you will see mention of the "communists" brought in for Freedom Summer, along with what Emmett Till "really said" to get him lynched.

It's an apology for Mississippi... and an attempt to get out the PR machine. Interesting propoganda. sk

Thursday, June 23, 2005


HungryBlues:So who is to blame for this Mississippi Mess - the lonely manslaughter charge against one aging Klansman in the lynching of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman? Ben Greenberg of Hungry Blues blog responds the finger points beyond the Neshoba County prosecutor:

"My blog post was written in the heat of anger on Tuesday. I stand by the assessment even if I'd moderate my tone were I to write it again. I say that Jim Hood is lying because he did not do his duty. He did not bring all the witnesses to the stand. He did not request help (i.e., evidence!!) from Justice Department and request a special prosecutor, as has been done in most of other civil rights era murder cases that have been reopened. Hood also did not give adequate time to reviewing the evidence for other possible indictments of the 9 other living suspects and has come out at various times and essentially admitted that he is purposefully pursuing Killen and only Killen.

It is most definitely called for to call out the racism in men like McIntyre and Killen, who are obviously birds of a feather. But the real changes won't be won unless those who are charged with pursuing justice and change are held to a high standard. I would argue that Jim Hood's complicity in protecting white, racist murderers is actually more dangerous than the obvious, cartoonish stuff of McIntyre. "

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

White Knights of the KKK recruiting brochure

Sovereignty Commission Online

"...Looking for, and enlisting ONLY: Sober, Intelligent, Courageous, Christian, American, White men who are consciously and fully aware of the basic FACT that their physical life and earthly destiny are absolutely bound up with the Survival of this Nation, under God."

Now if these guys ever need some help with recruitment ...

"The defense rested Monday after a former mayor testified that the Klan was a 'peaceful organization,'" reported Ben Greenberg of HungryBlues.

"Harlan Majure, who was mayor of this Mississippi town in the 1990s, said Killen was a good man and that the part-time preacher's Klan membership would not change his opinion. Majure said the Klan 'did a lot of good up here' and said he was not personally aware of the organization's bloody past."

Majure: "As far as I know it's a peaceful organization."

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: "SCR ID # 10-60-0-10-1-1-1 "

What about the other men who killed three young CORE volunteers? Here's a clipping from the Sovereignty Commission files that shows all names of those initially arrested...

Monday, June 20, 2005

New York Pathologist was "horrified" at what happened to James Chaney

Sovereignty Commission Online

Pathologist David Spain took the risk of coming into Mississippi to examine James Chaney's body. It did not take long for Sovereignty Commission invetigators to "check him out." Here's their first report ..

Then a Jackson pathologist, Dr. Bill Featherston, asked the Sovereignty Commission to file a breach of ethics charge against Dr. Spain (for seeking the truth?).

But even the Catholics were against Mississippi!

Will any of Dr. Spain's observations be used in the trial of Preacher Killen? One has to wonder. Dr. Spain's report, regardless, is a Must Read.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"Cheat Sheets" for Sovereignty Commission Speakers

Sovereignty Commission Online
For a time, the Sovereignty Commission sponsored a speaker's bureau to go into the North and explain why the southern way of life worked so well (or something like this). Here are some practice Q & A's for speakers... "Do you believe that the majority of Mississippi Negroes prefer segregated schools...?

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

After the murder of Emmett Till, a black McComb minister wrote to Lt. Governor Carroll Gartin in August of 1957 to suggest that something must be done regarding the violence against negroes. Rev. Hollis N. Turner's nine page letter (following Gartin's aloof letter to Ney Gore of the Sovereignty Commission) tragically goes through a number of rapes and murders that have been perpetrated against people in or near Magnolia and McComb.

Betty Butler was “killed a few steps north of the overhead bridge” in McComb, “by a sixteen-year-old white boy

The Kidnap/murder of a 16-year-old white girl residing in Walthall County by four white men is reported next. The minister writes the girl was taken from her bedroom, carried into a swamp and raped. One man confessed, but was acquitted by an all-white jury in a trial in Magnolia, he states. No date is given.

Near the same spot, a 12-year-old girl is raped...

Continue here ... Sovereignty Commission Online

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: Detailed map of where car was located (murder of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman). (Anonymous source) "SCR ID # 2-112-1-44-1-1-1 "

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online In 1962 Aaron Henry's address book somehow became the possession of the Sovereignty Commission.The name of Jack Childs was found in the book (page 14) and indexed. Childs was an FBI informant in the Robert Kennedy - Martin Luther King investigation.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission OnlineSatterfield requests $200,000 to match funds from "Anonymous Doner". Money would fund a permanent organization in Washington, D. C., to fight civil rights.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online "Follow the money..." (Ben Bradley, Washington Post/Watergate)

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission OnlineAttorneys from ACLU, CDLC and NAACP discuss growing problem of finding local attorneys willing and able to work on civil rights cases.Satterfield (former ABA chief) states that Mississippi lawyers do not have to represent "outside agitators."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission OnlinePercy Greene offers to tell Sovereignty Commission of contacts made by George Harris, member of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission, of the identity of "any of Harris's contacts in Mississippi."

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: "SCR ID # 2-62-1-3-1-1-1 " License tags, names, addresses of Coahoma County African of many such lists. Dated December 1958.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: "SCR ID # 2-134-0-1-1-1-1 " A Greenville lawyer asks the Sovereignty Commission to spy on a black corporation. Looking for "integrationists." Also asks for corporate law changes to ease such spying.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
Eastland, Barnett, Johnston and Satterfield - getting together on anti civil rights publicity.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
Eastland's confidence violated by Sovereignty Commission regarding civil rights bill. The senator is not happy with Erle Johnston.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
65-page document describing Mississippi's fight (CCFAF) against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Shows heavy involvement of (drum roll...) William Loeb of New Hampshire and James Kilpatrick of Virginia.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
"Anti-Riot" Amendment suggested for inclusion in Civil Rights Bill.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
Erle Johnston, longtime director of the Sovereignty Commission, swore the Commission did not interfere with voting. But this report filed in 1966 by investigator A. L. Hopkins is one of many examples disproving Johnston's statement.

Doddsville, site of the Eastland Plantation and home of the late white supremacist Senator James O. Eastland. Posted by Hello

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: "SCR ID # 13-50-0-8-1-1-1 "
Every so often, someone working at the Sovereignty Commission would copy an entire manual, report or book that was particularly interesting. This is a six page brochure on the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs of American that provides a good explanation of dubois philosophy. Must have scared the be-jeezus out of white Citizens Counselors..

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

"Sovereignty" outlined by Oxford lawyer for Erle Johnston.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
Someone got paid for this morsel of information ... a "snitch" report.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


HungryBlues: "Tuesday, May 24, 2005
'they chose to indict Mr. Killen and only Mr. Killen'
May 24, 2005
Killen bid to toss case denied
By Jerry Mitchell
The Clarion Ledger
PHILADELPHIA � The judge presiding over reputed Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen's upcoming murder trial in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers rejected a defense request Monday to dismiss the charges.
Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon said the defense had failed to show Killen was being 'selectively prosecuted.'
He said Killen's June 13 trial will take place as scheduled. Killen, an 80-year-old sawmill operator and part-time preacher, has insisted he had nothing to do with the June 21, 1964, killings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. . . .
In an unusual occurrence, a defense attorney and a prosecutor testified in the hearing Monday.
James McIntyre of Jackson, who represented the sheriff in the 1967 trial and is on Killen's defense team, testified there were other suspects in this case besides his client who are still alive.
District Attorney Mark Duncan acknowledged eight suspects are still alive and said Neshoba County grand jurors could have indicted all eight or others whose names arose in the investigation.
After being presented all the information from the state's investigation, he said, 'they chose to indict Mr. Killen and only Mr. Killen.'
(Whole thing.)
Posted by Benjamin T. Greenberg on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at 12:44 PM in breaking news, civil rights movement, neshoba murders, race and racism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) "

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Tribute to Confederacy at the Carroll County courthouse. "The South Will Rise Again." Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

... After the murders work continued in Meridian.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman: Sovereignty Commission's investigation of the burning of the Mt. Zion Methodist Church located ten miles East of Philadelphia in the Longdale Community of Neshoba County. Report dated June 23, 1964.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Mississippi officials first claimed it was a "hoax" that three civil rights volunteers were missing after their release from the Neshoba County jail at 10:30 p.m., Sunday, June 21, 1964.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Satterfield's update, Nov. 6, 1963: $465,000 spent so far to fight civil rights (1963 dollars)

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Yazoo City Lions Club helps fight Civil Rights in 1963

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

The former president of the American Bar Association, John Satterfield of Yazoo City, headed up Mississippi's fight against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.