Next month, Concordia Sentinel editor and Pulitzer Prize finalist Stanley Nelson will release his book, Devils Walking: Klan Murders Along the Mississippi in the 1960s. In the book, published by LSU Press, Nelson details his widely recognized investigative reporting on a series of Klan-related murders that occurred in or near his hometown of Ferriday, Louisiana.
During that tumultuous era, several African American men, ranging in age from 19 to 67, were murdered in Ferriday and Natchez, Mississippi. Nelson was prompted to begin his investigations into these murders when, in 2006, the FBI re-opened long-cold cases from the civil rights era and made public documents that had been shut up in archives for decades.
Thanks to hundreds of interviews conducted by Nelson with victims’ families, suspects, and community members, Nelson uncovered the workings of a gang of vigilantes called the Silver Dollar group. A violent, local offshoot of the Klan, this group was made up of individuals, including law enforcement officers, who did not think the Klan was acting aggressively enough in the face of the civil rights movement.
In his book, Nelson details the results of his reporting and the judicial aftermath, which included the first grand jury hearing for the fifty-year-old crimes. Look for the book at major booksellers in October. For more background on the murders, Nelson’s research, and the involvement of LSU journalists in the project, read “Cold Cases,” published in May 2015, at CountryRoadsMag.com.