Local Bloggers Raise Money for New Tombstones
JACKSON, Miss. — July 22, 2005 — Thomas Moore, the 62-year-old brother of a young man killed by the Ku Klux Klan, just completed a two-week journey to his native Mississippi from his home in Colorado Springs to seek justice for the death of his brother, Charles Moore, and his friend, Henry Dee. Navy divers discovered torsos of their bodies in the Mississippi River during a massive search for the bodies of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in July 1964.
Thomas Moore, a 30-year Army veteran, was not alone on his visit to Mississippi. He was accompanied by David Ridgen, a documentarian with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., as well as a reporting team of native Mississippi women from the Jackson Free Press, the alternative newsweekly in Jackson, Miss.
“We believe it is time that Mississippi natives actively tell our own stories, no matter how difficult they are,” says Jackson Free Press editor Donna Ladd, a Neshoba County native who was 3 when Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were murdered in her hometown, but wasn’t told about it until she was 14. “A new generation of Mississippians are ready to step up and demand honesty and justice.” Other than Ladd, who is 43, the JFP team members are all in their 20s. The team will continue to report on other “cold” civil rights cases in and around Mississippi.
Ladd wrote a detailed narrative story about Moore’s visit to Mississippi, published July 20, 2005:
Ridgen drove with Moore from Colorado Springs and met up with the Jackson Free Press team on July 8 in the spot where Moore and Dee were last seen alive. CBC and the JFP then followed Moore throughout his visit to Mississippi, which included convincing U.S. Attorney Dunn Lamptonâ€”who was in Moore’s Army infantry unitâ€”to commit to forming a task force to re-investigate the case. Moore and the reporting team also learned several vital, new pieces of information while in Mississippi, and retrieved a number of investigative files he had not previously seen. The group also talked to a big sister of Henry Dee, who had never been approached by the media, as well as former Klansmen and FBI investigators.
Kate Medley, a Jackson native and Ole Miss graduate student in Southern Studies, photographed Moore’s entire visit. Medley also photographed the Edgar Ray Killen trial for the Jackson Free Press, the New York Times and several European outlets, including an exclusive photo shoot of Killen at is home just prior to the trial. Two other young Mississippians, Natalie Irby and Thabi Moyo, helped report the story.
The same team reported on and blogged about the Edgar Ray Killen trial:
After the story about Thomas Moore was posted on the Jackson Free Press Web site Tuesday night, bloggers on the site started a campaign to raise money to buy new tombstones/memorials for the graves. (Ladd reported that Charles Moore’s tombstone is crumbling with age and has misspelled inscriptions.)
Leading that campaign is Jackson engineer Stephanie Dreier, who is from Southwest Mississippi. Another blogger, C.W. Robertson, volunteered to set up a free list serv for Moore to help him in his quest to form a Mississippi coalition to call for prosecution of his brother’s murderers who are still living in and around Meadville.
Upon reading the story on the Free Press Web site Wednesday, Thomas Moore told the paper: “If Mississippians come out for prosecution for the deaths of these two black men, people will know Mississippi is changing.”
Despite an extensive FBI investigation in 1964, the case was dropped by the Natchez-area district attorney and the case has drawn little media over the years. At the Killen trial, Rita Schwerner Bender used the Moore-Dee case as an example of “cold cases” that are still not being prosecuted: “Youâ€™re here, youâ€™re interested in this trial as the most important trial of the Civil Rights Movement because two of the men are white,â€ she said outside the courthouse. â€œYouâ€™re still doing what was done in 1964.â€
CONTACT: Donna Ladd, Jackson Free Press, firstname.lastname@example.org
601.362.6121 ext. 5; 601.966.0834 (cell)
(Can provide contact info for Thomas Moore and David Ridgen and other information)
For photography: Kate Medley, email@example.com
Tombstone fund: Stephanie Dreier, firstname.lastname@example.org
List Serv volunteer: C.W. Robertson, email@example.com
THE TEAM: Thomas Moore’s Journey to Mississippi
Thomas Moore is the 62-year-old brother of Charles Moore, who was brutally murdered by the Klan in a national forest in their home county in 1964. His friend, Henry Dee, was also killed. Moore was a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army and served for 30 years.
David Ridgen is a documentary maker for Canadian Broadcasting Corp. He drove to Colorado Springs from Toronto, and then to Meadville, Miss., with Thomas Moore.
JFP editor Donna Ladd led the Mississippi team that followed Thomas Moore on his quest for justice, and wrote the cover story this issue. The Neshoba County native graduated from Mississippi State and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
Kate Medley is a Jackson native who graduated from the University of Montana. She worked as a photojournalist for two years before recently beginning a Masterâ€™s in Southern Studies at Ole Miss. She photographed the cover and cover story.
Jackson native Natalie Irby is a graduate of Jackson Prep and Ole Miss in 2005. She is a researcher and writer on civil rights issues and helped report the case of Henry Dee and Charles Moore this issue. She now divides her time between Nashville and Jackson.
Photo intern Thabi Moyo graduated from Howard University in 2004. She is an aspiring filmmaker and lives in Madison. She grew up in Jackson. As part of the Dee-Moore reporting team, Thabi taped interviews about the case for CBC television. She just completed an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Diversity Internship at the Jackson Free Press.
JFP Archive on Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner case: