Devil’s Walkin’: Klan Murders Along the Mississippi in the 1960s

Stanley Nelson. Louisiana State Univ., $29.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8071-6407-5
Nelson, the editor of Louisiana’s tiny Concordia Sentinel newspaper, uncovers the truth about a series of horrifying hate crimes that have been ignored for half a century. At the height of the civil rights movement, 15 Mississippian Klansmen, including a number of law enforcement officers, formed a violent vigilante organization named the Silver Dollar Group. Between 1964 and 1967, these men murdered eight African-American men in Adams County, Miss., and across the border in Concordia Parish, La., targeting those who seemed “militant” or overly familiar toward white women. FBI agents were assigned to investigate these killings but made no progress; many potential witnesses were afraid to testify, especially as a number of sheriffs and police officers were either Silver Dollar members or sympathetic to the group’s actions. Nelson spent years investigating these long-cold murder cases, interviewing aging witnesses and perpetrators in an attempt to bring, if not justice, then at least closure to deaths that continue to haunt the victims’ families—and, in some cases, their killers. Nelson ends his meticulous narrative on a haunting note, stating that “we all are” responsible for failures of justice such as these, but by bringing these stories to light he has made a great contribution to righting a historical wrong. (Oct.)

This review has been corrected to reflect a change in the title of the book.

Reviewed on: 08/22/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
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