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Between Remembrance and RepairCommemorating Racial Violence in Philadelphia, Mississippi$
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Claire Whitlinger

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469656335

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469656335.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Prosecuting Edgar Ray Killen

Prosecuting Edgar Ray Killen

(p.60) 3 Prosecuting Edgar Ray Killen
Between Remembrance and Repair

Claire Whitlinger

University of North Carolina Press

Despite the growing number of civil rights cold cases brought to trial decades after the crimes were committed, few social scientific studies explore the conditions that allow for such cases to emerge. Engaging this question through an in-depth case study of the 2005 prosecution of Edgar Ray Killen for the 1964 “Mississippi Burning” murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, this chapter extends current understandings of cold case trials. More specifically, the chapter investigates whether and how the case can be understood as an outcome of the 40th anniversary commemoration in Philadelphia, Mississippi, finding that the commemoration catalysed mnemonic entrepreneurship and cultivated the organizational structures and resources necessary to achieve a positive legal outcome. In doing so, the commemoration empowered local organizers to perform the roles typically undertaken by victims’ relatives and investigative journalists, thus offering an alternative pathway to legal redress. In addition, this commemorative outcome was shaped by favourable political opportunities a juror pool that had been primed through the ‘‘memory of commemoration.’’

Keywords:   civil rights, cold case, commemoration, commemorative outcome, Edgar Ray Killen, Mississippi Burning, mnemonic entrepreneurship, Philadelphia, Mississippi, political opportunities, resources

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