1956 May 16

Mississippi Hires Secret Spies to Fight Integration


The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, created on March 29, 1956 to fight racial integration, on this day voted to hire secret agents to serve as its “eyes and ears” in the fight against civil rights activity. The Commission stated that “it’s possible we may want to hire a Negro” to spy on the African-American community and civil rights groups. When the Commission’s files were opened years later, it was revealed that it had retained private detective agencies, hired private individuals, and in fact did hire several conservative African-Americans who served as spies.

As the documentary film, The Spies of Mississippi, argues, there is evidence that the Commission provided information about individuals that led to their imprisonment and, in the case of three civil rights workers active in Freedom Summer, resulted in their murder on June 21, 1964.

Watch the documentary film, The Spies of Mississippi (2014)

Read: Rick Bowers and Eva Absher, The Spies of Mississippi (2010)

Learn more about the Sovereignty Commission at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History: http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/

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