Fifty Years Forward
The epilogue provides updates on the three commemorative outcomes explored in earlier chapters—the prosecution of Edgar Ray Killen, the civil and human rights education bill, and the Mississippi Truth Project—discussing challenges to implementation in each case. The chapter then turns its attention to another outcome of the fortieth anniversary commemoration in Philadelphia, Mississippi: fragmented commemoration. The planning process in 2004 revealed significant ideological differences among organizers who were divided over whether to uphold the traditional yearly observance at a local black church or to broaden the audience of the commemoration by hosting it at a larger venue typically associated with the county’s white residents. A year following the tumultuous 40th anniversary commemoration, the conviction of Edgar Ray Killen for his role as the mastermind behind the 1964 Mississippi Burning murders further exacerbated the divide with critics pushing for further prosecutions. Every year since, the two groups have held two separate, nearly simultaneous commemoration services, highlighting important questions about how best to represent this painful past and who has the right to do so.
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