Literary and cinema celebration kicks off with Mississippi film

Published 1:01 am Thursday, February 22, 2018


Natchez — A film about a local murder in 1964 and the reconciliation that followed in 2011 will kick off this year’s Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration.

“Reconciliation in Mississippi” — a 2011 documentary by award-winning producer David Ridgen — will be shown at 6:15 p.m. today in the Natchez Convention Center.

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Ridgen, along with special guest Thomas Moore, will be at the NLCC to give a presentation and show the film and answer questions for attendees.

“Reconciliation in Mississippi” is a sequel to Ridgen’s “Mississippi Cold Case,” a 2007 film about Ridgen’s investigation two 1964 Civil Rights Era murders.

In 2004, Ridgen and Thomas began to investigate the cold case.

Charles Moore, Thomas Moore’s brother, and Henry Dee were picked up along a highway in Meadville on May 2, 1964. They were brutally beaten and dumped into a river while they were still alive.

Ridgen and Thomas set out to question Charles Edwards, a former Ku Klux Klan member who was suspected of being involved in the murders.

After multiple dismissals from Edwards, Ridgen and Thomas found another KKK member who had been falsely reported as dead, James Ford Seale.

Ridgen said, Edwards admitted in court to kidnapping and beating the men, but swore he never had any involvement with Charles Moore and Dee’s deaths. He testified against Seale and made a court apology to Moore’s family.

Seale was charged with one count of conspiracy and two counts of kidnapping resulting in death. He was convicted and given three life sentences. Seale died in federal prison in 2011.

“I had the opportunity to meet (Edwards) in that trial,” Thomas said. “I had been brought up in the Bible (which) talks about forgiveness. If I could find some way to offer that, then the burden would be off of me.”

Ridgen said he and Thomas revisited the case in 2011 to “tie up loose ends.”

“That included talking to Edwards,” Ridgen said. “The idea of reconciliation comes to mind. Reconciliation means different things to different people. … To me this is it. … (The film) is a 20-minute documentary about the reconciliation of these two men.”

Ridgen said Thomas and Edwards were able to meet with each other and talk again in 2011. Ridgen said, Edwards described what happened in 1964 and apologized.

“Whether he meant it or not is not my concern,” Thomas said. “My concern is the peace I could draw for my life by forgiving him. … Once I did that, I had experienced the freedom from that burden. I was able to see a whole new life.”

NLCC Director Brett Brinegar said the film is one of many events offered this weekend during the conference.

A previously film by local artist Mike Chapman — who was scheduled to present at 6 p.m. — will not be attending, Brinegar said.

Brinegar said other events throughout the weekend at the convention center are free and open to the public.


Story by Sabrina Simms