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New Group Calls For ‘Racial Reconciliation’

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 28 Mar 2012 05:06pm | comments
James Stern shared a cell with Edgar Ray Killen.

A new group of Mississippians is calling for more racial healing in the wake of two crimes with heavy racial elements. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the former cell mate of notorious white supremacist is helping lead the charge.

The confession of Deryl Dedmon to a racial motivated murder in Jackson, and the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida has motivated a group of Mississippians to start a new campaign called Racial Reconciliation.

Co-founder Corey Turner says it is time to move beyond what he calls the civil rights era.

"We have people in aggreeance that yes now is the time. Let's move forward. We have a lot of racial and hate crimes going on and we believe that now is the time to move on and not go back," Turner said.

James Stern leads a small group on a bus tour of historic civil rights locations in downtown Jackson.

Stern spent a year and a half sharing a prison cell with Edgar Ray Killen, the man convicted of orchestrating the killing of three civil rights workers near in 1964.

"What you know about Edgar Ray Killen is all true. Worse. I just unfortunately had to live with him. (Do you think at the time when you were living with him he had racist beliefs?) Absolutely. (Did he say that to you?) We have all the confessions and letters of Edgar Ray Killen. He is Edgar Ray Killen there is nothing changed about the man. The evilness of Edgar Ray Killen is the evilness of Edgar Ray Killen," Stern said.

Stern says Mississippians have overcome a lot of racial anxiety but, in light of recent events that appear to have racial elements, more works needs to be done.

"We are going to always have people that are going to be negative in this world. I can safely say that it is people like us who have overcome those kind of people that matter," Stern said.

Stern says he has letters written by Killen from his time as his cell mate that he plans to donate to the Margaret Walker Center on the campus of Jackson State University.

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James Stern shared a cell with Edgar Ray Killen.


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