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Investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell to speak at ACU

For immediate release
Jan. 25, 2006 

Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., will speak at Abilene Christian University Jan. 30 at a luncheon hosted by ACU's Journalism and Mass Communication Department. He will also speak in several classes while on campus.

Mitchell joined The Clarion-Ledger in 1986 and was inspired to revisit unsolved murders from the civil rights era after watching the film Mississippi Burning in 1989. His investigation and writings have inspired others and since 1989, authorities in Mississippi and six other states have reexamined 29 killings from the civil rights era and made 27 arrests, leading to 22 convictions.

Monday's luncheon will start at 11:45 a.m. in the Teague Special Events Center on ACU's campus. Tickets cost $12.50 and can be purchased in advance by calling Lorri Ware at 325.674.2296. Remaining tickets will be available at the door.
Mitchell’s investigation and research led to the conviction of four members of the Ku Klux Klan for four unsolved civil rights era cases:

  • Byron De La Beckwith was convicted for the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers,
  • Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers for ordering the fatal firebombing of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer in 1966,
  • Bobby Cherry for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four girls, and
  • Edgar Ray Killen for helping orchestrate the June 21, 1964, killings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.

Mitchell has also received 15 national awards for his investigative work, including the Heywood Broun Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service, the Sidney Hillman Award, the American Legion's Fourth Estate Award, the National Association of Black Journalists' Award for Enterprise Reporting, the Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Award and the Inland Press Association Award.

He is the youngest recipient of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism administered by Columbia University.

Mitchell is the author of the book, The Preacher and the Klansman, which received a Columbia Journalism School Citation for Coverage of Race and Ethnicity.  He was also recognized by the Associated Press with the Outstanding Writing Award 

Mitchell was portrayed in the 1996 Rob Reiner film, Ghosts of Mississippi, which was based on the investigation of the assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers 30 years later. He also has been featured in Civil Rights Martyrs, a Learning Channel documentary; was a consultant for Killed by the Klan, a Discovery Channel documentary; in the "First Person" segment of ABC Evening News; and was nominated as "Person of the Day" by CNN.  In addition, he was featured in Newsweek as one of "America’s Best" in 2005. He has also been recognized as an expert in his field often appearing on CNN, the Lehrer News Hour and other programs.

He received his master's in journalism from Ohio State University in 1997, where he attended the Kiplinger Reporting Program. He lives in Jackson, Miss., with his wife and their two children.

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