New Nonfiction Book Examines Civil Rights in Mississippi

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M. Susan Orr-KlopferÂ?s new book revisits MississippiÂ?s state government 50 years ago, which fostered a culture of racism and fueled the civil rights movement.

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Edgar Ray Killen has been found guilty of manslaughter for slayings in Mississippi that spurred the civil rights movement 41 years ago. M. Susan Orr-Klopfer’s timely new book, “Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited,” examines the circumstances of this case and suggests that a racist Mississippi government of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s allowed several other alleged confidants to escape charges.

Killen was accused of helping organize the posse that murdered civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964. Killen is the only person ever indicted on state murder charges in the case, but was tried, with several others, in 1967 on federal charges of violating the victims' civil rights. Killen was found innocent then, but seven others were convicted.

“We cannot begin to fathom the nature of racial repression in Mississippi without knowing what Klopfer reveals in her book,” states Benjamin T. Greenberg, in the book’s foreword. “It is no exaggeration to say that Mississippi of the 1950s and 1960s was a totalitarian police state.”

Little has been written about civil rights in the Delta, particularly about the struggle that began before Mississippi became a state, and the continuation of those struggles into the youth of Mississippi’s statehood.

Orr-Klopfer has spent the last two years traveling the Delta and writing the book’s 32 chapters and more than 700 pages of historical content. Descriptions and dialogue in “Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited” are based on interviews conducted by eyewitnesses and participants in the events. In addition, Orr-Klopfer used newspapers, books, journals and magazines, documents, letters, diaries, and oral histories from various libraries, archives and private collections.

About the author:

M. Susan Orr-Klopfer holds an M.B.A. from Indiana Wesleyan University and a B.A. from Hanover College. She is a former acquisitions and development editor for Simon & Schuster, Inc., and is an award-winning journalist for her investigative reporting in Missouri. In addition to “Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited,” available on Tuesday, June 28 at and, she is the author of several other books, including “The Emmett Till Book,” which is being released today, June 22, and a computer book, "Abort! Retry! Fail!”

For more information, please contact:

Susan Klopfer



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