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Jerry Mitchell

Jerry Mitchell has never given up in his quest to bring unpunished killers to justice.  The investigative journalist for The Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, he has been called “a loose cannon,” “a pain in the ass,” and a “white traitor.” He is also one of the most decorated investigative journalists in America, having won over 30 national awards—among them a MacArthur “Genius” grant, Columbia’s John Chancellor Award, the Sidney Hillman Prize, and the George Polk Award. 

Jerry Mitchell's book RACE AGAINST TIME: A REPORTER REOPENS THE UNSOLVED MURDER CASES OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA documents efforts that led to the re-openings and re-prosecutions of some of the nation’s most notorious murders, including the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers ... the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist church in Birmingham that killed four girls ... the 1966 firebombing of Vernon Dahmer ... and the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers (the “Mississippi Burning” case). These four cases were landmarks in the civil rights movement. Now, as we witness an all-time high of hate crimes in America, Mitchell writes, “We must remember, to point our compass toward justice. We must remember, and then act.”

Mitchell’s investigations of unpunished killings have hardly been popular. Some complained bitterly in letters to the editor. Others cancelled their subscriptions. Klansmen repeatedly threatened him. Still, his reporting exposed injustices, incompetence and corruption, helping lead to investigations, exonerations, firings and reforms of state agencies. RACE AGAINST TIME is the culmination of Mitchell’s actions, and it tells the inside stories of how these civil rights cold cases came back to life. 

Mitchell was covering courts for The Clarion-Ledger when he was assigned to cover the press premiere of the 1988 film Mississippi Burning. What happened inside the theater changed his life. He saw the film with two FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who investigated the real-life case involving the KKK’s killings of three young civil rights workers and a journalist who wrote about the case. He learned from them that more than 20 Klansmen had been involved in killing these young men, but no one had ever been tried for murder. That galled Mitchell, jump-starting a journey that continues to this day.

With RACE AGAINST TIME, readers get an unputdownable suspense story about a chapter in American history. It’s unbelievable that killers had been walking around in broad daylight, their crimes unpunished. Like a nonfiction version of a John Grisham novel, RACE AGAINST TIME is filled with courtroom twists and heart-pounding confrontations with killers. The book also reveals the courage of those involved in the civil rights movement. And this book shows the power of the press in a nation that desperately needs accountability.

Wednesday, February 26th, 6:00PM
Event address: 
5600 West Lovers Lane
Dallas, TX 75209
Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451645132
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - February 4th, 2020