By Howard Smead
Based on previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department documents, extensive interviews with many of the surviving principals involved in the case, and a variety of newspaper accounts, Smead meticulously reconstructs the full story of one of the last lynchings in America, detailing a grim, dramatic, but nearly forgotten episode from the Civil Rights era. In 1959, a white mob in Poplarville, Mississippi abducted a young black man named Mack Charles Parker--recently charged with the rape of a white woman--from his jail cell, beat him, carried him across state lines, finally shot him, and left his body in the Pearl River. A massive FBI investigation ensued, and two grand juries met to investigate the lynching, yet no arrests were ever made. Smead presents a vivid picture of a small Southern town gripped by racism and distrust of federal authority, and describes the travesty of justice that followed in the wake of the lynching. Ultimately revealing more than an account of a single lynching, he offers what he calls "a glimpse at the tidal forces at work in the South on the eve of the civil rights revolution."