In June 1964, at the height of the civil-rights movement, the Ku Klux Klan burned a Black Methodist church to the ground in the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, and murdered three civil-rights workers in cold blood. This crime became one of the most notorious of its era, shocking the nation on the eve of the passage of the Civil Rights Act and later inspiring a Hollywood blockbuster: Mississippi Burning.
But when the reporter Ko Bragg started questioning how this history is being preserved in Philadelphia, she was confronted with a town that would much rather forget its violent past. Bragg finds a few Black residents taking it upon themselves to keep the story of this crime alive, and she asks where the burden of safeguarding history should lie.
Further reading: “Who Will Remember the Mississippi Murders?”
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This episode of The Experiment was produced by Gabrielle Berbey, with help from Salman Ahad Khan. Editing by Michael May and Julia Longoria. Reporting by Ko Bragg. Fact-check by Naomi Sharp. Sound design by Hannis Brown with additional engineering by Jennifer Munson. Transcription by Caleb Codding.
Music by Naran Ratan (“East of Somewhere Else”) provided by Tasty Morsels. Additional music by Hannis Brown. Additional audio from Iowa PBS, HelmerReenberg, AP Archive, MGM, CBS Evening News, NBC News, C-SPAN.