FBI Office in Jackson Celebrates 50th AnniversaryBy Paul Boger | Published 11 Jul 2014 09:00am |
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Jackson Field Office is celebrating it's 50th anniversary. The Capitol City office was reestablished amid the chaos of three civil rights killings outside Philadelphia.
1964 was a tumultuous year in Mississippi. With Freedom Summer underway, members of the Ku Klux Klan were doing their best to put down the movement. In an effort to prevent the Klan from entrenching itself deeper into the South, President Lyndon Johnson ordered F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover to reestablish a field office in Jackson which had been closed in 1946.
"Now, I don't want these clansman to open their mouth without your knowing what they're saying." says Johnson. "Now, I want intelligence on that state. Now, what I want you to do, I want you to put in 50, 100 men. I want you to have the same kind of intelligence you have on the commies. Now, this Klan could spread through the eleven Southern states."
When Hoover came to the state on July 10, 1964, many Mississippians -- both black and white -- were suspicious of the federal agency. Many whites worried the integrated organization would force it's inclusive policies on Mississippians. Blacks believed it was here to maintain the status quo of Jim Crow in the South. Myrlie Evers Williams is the widow of slaying civil rights leader Medger Evers.
"F.B.I., a name that we feared, and if I must be honest, one that we despised." says Evers-Williams. "We saw the F.B.I. as an institution set to keep people of color down."
However, as the F.B.I. began investigating the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner many began placing more trust in the agency. Former Governor William Winter says it helped Mississippians realize the influence the Ku Klux Klan and other segregationist groups had on the state.
"When they saw what was going on in Mississippi, the criminality, the dominance of the Klan, and threatening the lives of people -- black and white -- people realized the F.B.I . was here to save us from our selves."
Today the F.B.I.'s Jackson Field Office is named in honor of the three civil rights workers as well as the lead agent in charge of their case Roy Moore.
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