October 1, 2022 4:38 am
‘Un(re)solved’ exhibit focuses on civil rights-era killings

‘Un(re)solved’ exhibit focuses on civil rights-era killings

JACKSON (Miss.). (AP) — An interactive exhibit in Mississippi prompts visitors to speak aloud the names of people who were killed in acts of racist violence in the United States during the civil rights era — incantations in a darkened room to honor some 150 men, women and children whose lives were cut short.

The names are displayed on lighted glass panels backed by images depicting trees. Each name has a code next to it that can be scanned with a cellphone.

“Say your name to start your story” or “Say your name to start her story,” the recorded narrator Charlayne Hunter Gault, a journalist who was one of the first Black students at the University of Georgia.

The traveling exhibit, “Un(re)solved,” was created by PBS Frontline with artist, filmmaker and technologist Tamara Shogaolu. It is on display until Oct. 24 at the Two Mississippi Museums in downtown Jackson. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum & Museum of Mississippi History share a lobby, meeting areas, and exhibit spaces.

The exhibit opened in Mississippi on Aug. 28 — 66 years to the day after Emmett Till, a Black teenager from Chicago, was abducted, tortured and killed in the Mississippi Delta after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman working in a country store. His mother demanded an open-casket funeral in Chicago. Photos of his brutalized body were a catalyst for civil rights movements.

“Un(re)solved” focuses on the federal investigation of more than 150 cold cases under a law enacted in 2008, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. Mississippi has 56 names in the exhibit — more than any other state.

Pamela D.C. Junior, the director of the Two Mississippi Museums said that she knew relatives of Benjamin Brown and James Earl Green.

Brown was shot to death in May 1967 during a demonstration on the campus of Jackson State College, now called Jackson State University. According to the Justice Department, its investigation into Brown’s death is over because the shooter in question was a Mississippi State trooper who is now deceased.

Green was a Jackson State student who was being protested against racism and was shot to death by officers. According to the Justice Department, an investigation into his death is ongoing.

Junior stated that she was a junior high student in Jackson with Green’s younger siblings and wondered how their deaths affected them. These are relatives who are trying to find peace but can’t because someone close to them has died. Junior stated this in the room that the exhibit was a reminder of the importance of the exhibit. “Think about all these names here and people who still don’t have peace because they are unsolved lynchings, murders.”

“Un(re)solved” was on display in May at the Tribeca Film Festival. After it leaves Mississippi, it will go to other parts of the U.S.


Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.