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Neshoba: The Price of Freedom (DVD Review)

15 Jan, 2011 By: Angelique Flores

Street 1/18/11
First Run
Box Office $0.02 million
$27.95 DVD
Not rated.

The 1964 murder of three Civil Rights workers in Neshoba County, Miss., arguably pushed the country toward the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

The documentary Neshoba details those murders and shows how much things have changed for some and not so much for others in Neshoba County.

During Freedom Summer, Civil Rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were ambushed and murdered by a group of Klansmen, led by Edgar Ray Killen. Goodman and Schwerner were shot point blank, while Chaney was brutally beaten and probably buried alive. Some speculate that the murders became so high profile only because two of the victims — Goodman and Schwerner — were white. (This is the same case on which the feature film Mississippi Burning is based.)

The documentary goes in depth, featuring interviews with the victims’ families, Killen himself, black and white Neshoba County citizens from today and from 1964, Civil Rights activists, friends of the alleged murderers and some of the people involved in the trial that took place 40 years after the murders and which convicted Killen. Photos and footage of the victims’ families, as well as citizens who felt that these victims deserved what they got, further paint a vivid portrait of what it must have been like to live in Mississippi during that time.

Most chilling about the documentary are the interviews with Killen, who is outspoken about his views that still reek of racism. Some of the current townspeople behave pretty similarly and echo the footage of the prejudiced townspeople from 1964.

It’s interesting to see how some of the current citizens bear such heavy guilt of what their relatives or fellow townspeople did. However, it’s frightening to see how little some people have changed from the pre-Civil Rights South, and the denial of their town’s horrific history.

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