2006 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Dawkins, Williamson, Jordan, Dearing, Horhn, Jackson (11th), Frazier, Thomas, Butler, Chaney, Little

Senate Concurrent Resolution 528

(As Adopted by Senate and House)


     WHEREAS, Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell has been named the 2005 Winner of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism from Columbia University for his 16-year effort to bring Civil Rights Era killers to justice; and

     WHEREAS, at 46, Mitchell is the youngest recipient of the award, whose previous winners include, veteran Mississippi newsman Bill Minor as well as several New York Times correspondents; Jim Wooten, who filed stories for ABC News from 40 countries to report on upheaval around the world; and the late Mary McGrory, who reported on Washington for more than five decades; and

     WHEREAS, Mitchell for 16 years worked to uncover evidence in the unsolved killings of civil rights activists.  His reporting has led to the conviction of four individuals; and

     WHEREAS, the $25,000.00 annual John Chancellor Award, administered by the Columbia University School of Journalism, recognizes and rewards a journalist whose reporting over time shows courage, integrity, curiosity and intelligence and epitomizes the role of journalism in a free society.  Mitchell received the honor November 29, 2005, at a black-tie celebration at the University's Low Memorial Library; and

     WHEREAS, Jerry Mitchell, is a special projects reporter for the Clarion-Ledger and author of The Preacher and the Klansman. He spent six months researching, interviewing the story's characters, traveling to places described, and collecting state Sovereignty Commission records and other documents.  His research helped to reconstruct events, dialogue and details.  On October 26, 1998, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., he and three other journalists were honored by the Anti-Defamation League for "their courage and conviction"; and

     WHEREAS, Jerry Mitchell doesn't look the part of a crusader.  Soft-spoken, and self-effacing, Mitchell is one of the last people you would choose out of a crowd to be a bona fide rabble-rouser; and

     WHEREAS, Mitchell's exploits were documented in part in the movie Ghosts of Mississippi, a dramatic retelling of the real-life effort of Mitchell and others to solve the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers; and

     WHEREAS, he joined the Clarion-Ledger staff in his 20's, with his only previous experience in small town papers in Arkansas.  Mitchell has been featured by ABC's 20/20, Brill's Content, Nightline, and other media for his continuing efforts to ferret out the truth about events taking place during the 1950s and 1960s; and

     WHEREAS, Jerry Mitchell is deserving of this award because of his determined pursuit of the truth.  He has shown strong, hard-nosed journalism throughout his career.  He has a heart for people and a tremendous sense of justice; and

     WHEREAS, "This award doesn't belong to me," Mitchell said.  "It belongs to those who fought so that all Americans could be free.  It belongs to those who never gave up hope and never gave up their belief in justice.  It belongs to those who work with me and all those who have made Mississippi a better place."; and

     WHEREAS, it is with great pride that we recognize this singular achievement by this individual who has brought honor to his newspaper and to the State of Mississippi:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend and congratulate Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell upon being named the 2005 Winner of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, and extend to him the best wishes of the Legislature in his future endeavors.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That this resolution be presented to Jerry Mitchell and be made available to The Clarion-Ledger and members of the Capitol Press Corps.