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Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  78 reviews
For almost two decades, investigative journalist Jerry Mitchell doggedly pursued the Klansmen responsible for some of the most notorious murders of the civil rights movement. This book is his amazing story. Thanks to him, and to courageous prosecutors, witnesses, and FBI agents, justice finally prevailed. John Grisham, author of The Guardians

On June 21, 1964, more than
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Simon Schuster
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Martin Clark
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book, nonfiction that reads like the very best fiction. The payoffs are real and satisfying, the stories are powerful, the lessons are important, and Jerry Mitchell is not only a hero but also one heck of a writer. This is a special book.
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What cruelty there is to murder American kids, to murder them on American soil just because they want to register people to vote. Thats about as un-American as you can get. Theres something about a nation that allows that to happen. A nation that allows that to happen is not a decent nation.-David Halberstam

They say that justice delayed is justice denied. I dont believe it. Justice delayed is still justice, -U.S.Senator and lead prosecutor for the Birmingham church bombing case, Doug Jones

Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
the right of all citizens to vote, here and throughout the South, is commonplace and universally accepted, a far cry from the old days. But once upon a time, three young men died because they believed in this right for all citizens.

The Race Against Time begins with Jerry Mitchell, a court reporter for the Mississippi newspaper The Clarion Ledger, walking out of a showing of the movie Mississippi Burning with one question in his mind: why was no one prosecuted for the brutal murder 1964 killings
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all readers interested in history and America
Recommended to Brent by: Simon & Schuster Goodreads
This is the greatest: a vital memoir of vital investigations and prosecutions, even more relevant in our era of hate crimes. I read the Clarion-Ledger in my visits to Mississippi in Fall, 1991, and the headline stories about the murderer of Medgar Evers, Byron de la Beckwith, written by this fine journalist, Jerry Mitchell. That's only one of the four stories here, stories so important to the Civil Rights Movement.
If you read Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those painful, necessary reads. Mitchell isn't just telling an important story about murder, or about Mississippi, or about racial injustice. He's telling a story about all of those things, much of which he experienced. The research and work (and danger) that went into this is done beautiful service by the endlessly conversational and readable prose, which only makes it harder, which only makes you stop longer, when you come across the disgustingly hateful, bigoted, racist quotes ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, death
DNF at 67 pages. I'm not convinced Mitchell's reason behind exploring these cases was the desire for justice. It seemed to me he was more concerned with discovering the truth so he could write articles about it, rather than to amend historical wrongs. He seems unconcerned about the welfare of his sources who break the law to give him information. I found myself confused at times why a certain revelation was significant. These cases are complex, with many different people referenced and ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
Race Against Time is a historical novel covering 4 notorious crimes commited by Klansmen involving 4 murders. Over 40 years later the killers were brought to justice mostly in part to Jerry Mitchell's investigative reporting. This is a must read for the generations now and beyond. Very well written, extremely captivating.
Raymond Rusinak
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm heart brokenly speechless. This journey for justice which Jerry Mitchell takes us on is just incredible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you've helped to accomplish.
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is a legal maxim that says that justice delayed is justice denied meaning if it is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all. However some of the families of those murdered by white supremacists during the 1960's in the American South would after many years (in one case forty three) eventually see the culprits brought to justice. For some semblance of justice finally to prevail, it would take courage, tenacity, fearlessness and an inherent ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have met Jerry and correspond with him a bit. In this book he recounts his experience helping to bring Klan members to (delayed) justice. Jerry spends a little time talking about the risks he faced in tracking down and exposing the Klan but I actually wanted a bit more of that. This is certainly an important work to chronicle our history and serves as a stark reminder of where we were. But these stories are even more important now as we watch the re-emergence of overt white supremacy in our ...more
Arista Kiffney
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I was more interested in the Civil Rights era crimes he was investigating than I was in him. . . and this book is HEAVILY weighted to be about him and the stories he wrote. Meh. Just inspires me to go read more history of the time.
Never Without a Book
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell ended up being way better than I expected. I know that is written on real life situation but my goodness, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happens next. in the 1980s, as a reporter for the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell decided to reinvestigate unsolved civil-rights-era murder cases, pursuing old leads, uncovering new evidence and publishing articles.

Kristen Beverly
Race Against Time is a work of nonfiction that details the investigative reporting that drove journalist Jerry Mitchell to help convict the KKK members that murdered civil rights workers in the 1960s. If you are into detective stories or looking to become a journalist yourself, this is a great play by play of what happened. It also goes deep into the injustices of what occurred during the investigation in the 1960s and how the members of the KKK were eventually brought down. Theres ...more Biography & Memoir
There is no statute of limitations when the crime is murder. This compelling fact was the impetus that fired up the investigative instincts of Jerry Mitchell, a reporter for Jackson, Mississippis Clarion-Ledger. In this noteworthy account, he hones in on the fine details of four horrific unsolved crimes committed in the Deep South in the nascent years of the Civil Rights era.

In 1963, NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated, and the bombing of a church in Birmingham caused the deaths of four
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic book. A must read for anyone that is interested in the early civil rights movement. Just a great but heartbreaking read.
Cara Brewton
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a moving account of how Jerry Mitchells life work made a profound difference bringing justice to the civil rights criminal cases swept under the rug in Mississippi. ...more
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hard to believe that this happened in my lifetime. Even harder to believe that much of the hate, bigotry, and corruption still exists today, just perhaps not as blatant.

This book should be on the required reading list at every high school, but that's not going to happen. Sadly, even books like Uncle Tom's Cabin have been removed from those shelves.

Bravo to the author for his commitment to revealing the truth behind these murders.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an ARC of this.

How have I not known about Jerry Mitchell's work before this book? Mitchell's done some great work in Mississippi keeping alive cases from the Civil Rights era, and this walks through five of the cases he helped shepherd to justice.

The book is super page-turning, and well paced to keep you wanting to read just one more chapter, and I think it'd be super tempting to open a review of this with the same "arc of the universe bends
David V.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 1-24-20. Finished 1-26-20. WOW!!!! This book is as exciting as any fiction I've read, but it's all true. A race against time (the deaths of witnesses); decades after the crimes were committed; the lost memories of those involved; and the missed clues in the investigations vs the investigative techniques of a dogged reporter. Is it a glamorous career-no; is it scary--sometimes; is it rewarding-absolutely, as justice wins even many years after the ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic, yet difficult book to read given the subject matter. Journalist, Jerry Mitchell, seeks to bring four murder cases involving the KKK to trial. Previous attempts at prosecuting the suspects had failed during the sixties when juries and the judicial system itself refused to convict and sometimes refused to even put the suspects on trial, even though there was enough evidence to convict. Race Against Time is a book that we can all learn from to understand the atmosphere and ...more
Emily Polson
Jan 30, 2020 added it
Shelves: ss, memoir
Really powerful account of an investigative journalist in Mississippi in the 90s working to crack open cold cases against KKK members who murdered Civil Rights activists (and children!) in the 60s. Mitchell writes with visceral details about his investigations, from the conversations he had with victims' families, witnesses, and suspects, to the backlash and threats he faced for working to bring killers to justice. All this creates an immersive, engrossing reading experience. Narrative ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Is this country in for a treat! Beautifully written and poignant in its telling of the tangled and dark roots of ignorance and the ultimate journey to justice.
Thank you Mr. Mitchell. You could have given it up many times, but instead you remained committed to that arch of justice.
In Race Against Time you are our tour guide to the ultimate righting of wrongs; I could not put this book down!
Born in Mississippi, I have remained in tension my entire life without tools to combat the ugly legacy of
Memorable lines:

pg 55: The state (Mississippi Sovereignty Commission) was after Medgar Evers for quite a while. - Ken Lawrence, civil rights activist
But what was the spy agency trying to accomplish?
First, they had wanted any dirt they could get on Evers, hoping to find any excuse to lock him up or discredit him. Yet even after his assassination, they didnt let up.
They were helping out the defense, Lawrence said. Stanney Sanders the defense lawyer in the murder trial, contacted the Sovereignty
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race-slavery
This is a book about the resolution of four significant civil rights era cold-case murders: (1) the 1963 murder of Mississippi's NAACP field secretary, Medgar Edgars, (2) the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, (3) the 1964 Freedom Summer "Mississippi Burning" murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, and (4) the 1966 murder of the president of the Forrest County Mississippi NAACP chapter, Vernon Dahmer Sr. The author, a reporter for the ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book, and one I highly recommend for anyone who wants to learn more about the horrific racial crimes in Mississippi, a very important part of our American history. Although I thought I knew a lot about this subject, I was still shocked, appalled, and ashamed of what happened there. Of course it happened in many places around the country, and unfortunately there is still hate in this country, so it is still happening today. It made me feel so lucky to have been born white (which in ...more
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jerry Mitchell is a legend and hero to many Mississippians, including me. Several villains of the civil rights movement, including the "Mississippi Burning" killers and the murderer of Medgar Evers, eventually faced justice only because of Mitchell's relentless tenacity. This book tells the story of how an investigative journalist worked with federal and state prosecutors to bring civil rights cold cases back from the dead decades after the murders were committed. He interviewed killers, ...more
Mikel Rhodes
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for all humanity! This kind of human failure is a failure of conscience.

We must bring the blinding light of day to this kind of malignant human behavior so that it can be fully exposed for its horror, terror, and human devastation. We must also understand that this human evil exist because good people fail to take appropriate measures to destroy its bidding places. This kind of evil isn't exclusive to any political thought (including nationalist beliefs), nation, religion, religious
Maureen Caupp
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jerry Mitchell's commitment to discovering the truth about crimes committed during the Civil Rights Era is inspiring. He is equally dedicated to sharing the truth about what happened so that it can be remembered. He mentions that he has discovered that it is not just a pursuit of justice, but also a pursuit of memory. What stories will we hear when we think about our country's past? I recommend this memoir to any readers with an interest in Civil Rights Era history, investigative journalism, and ...more
Mariann Snyder
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Important. Learning more about the sacrifices so many people made for the right to vote IN MY LIFETIME is important. Learning more about the complicity of the law in the demise of people who struggled for equality is important. Jerry Mitchell laid his own life on the line not to right wrongsnothing will bring back the innocent deadbut to see justice done. At least as compelling a read as A Civil Action and The Hot Zone, this piece of storytelling of the murky Mississippi 60s is worth every ...more
Eddie Parrish
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Riveting account of Jerry Mitchells courageous quest for justice in cold murder cases from the Civil Rights Era. I couldnt put it down. If youve ever heard of Medgar Evers, the 16th Street Church bombing, or the movie Mississippi Burning, then you should know the name Jerry Mitchell. His courage and tenacity led to the prosecution of the KKK members behind those cold-blooded murders.

[Interesting side note: Mitchell is a Harding University alumnus]
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