Documentary to look at civil rights murder

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2011

NATCHEZ — This month marks the 44th anniversary of an unsolved civil rights murder whose story is woven into the historical fabric of Natchez and the nation.

Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp recently revisited the 1967 murder of Wharlest Jackson for a documentary that will air on TV Friday night for those who have the station, Investigative Discovery, which is not included in the local cable package.

Jackson was murdered Feb. 27 with a car bomb after taking a promotion that was normally reserved for whites at the Armstrong Tire and Rubber Factory.

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A one-hour documentary looking at Jackson’s murder will air at 8 p.m. as the premier episode of a new TV series, Injustice Files, on the offspring network of the Discovery Channel.

A public screening of the documentary is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the City Auditorium.

Director of the Natchez cultural heritage tourism and Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture, Darrell White, said he helped Discovery Channel executives plan the screening.

Network executives will be in attendance, and Beauchamp will conduct a question and answer session following the program, Natchez Convention & Visitors Bureau media liaison Sally Durkin said.

White said FBI investigators who have worked on the Jackson murder case also plan to attend, as well as members of Jackson’s family.

White said the event can help the community heal from the tragedy of Jackson’s murder.

“By facing this tragic portion of our past, bonds within our community can become strengthened,” White said.

White said the location of screening is significant to civil rights history of Natchez, as well.

White said in 1964 the City Auditorium was used to temporarily house hundreds of civil rights protesters. Local police kept the protestors for up to a few days at the auditorium before they were taken to the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman without being formally charged for marching without a parade permit.

White said the documentary is important for the community to acknowledge one of Natchez’s stories that has been documented but not exposed.

“Rather than retreat from our history, we need to face it square on so we can positively move forward,” White said. “(Then) we can have full appreciation of the contributions and sacrifices of those only seeking a quality, American way of life.”