Former Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell will be the recipient of the 2019 Our Mississippi Honors Lifetime Achievement Award announced Our Mississippi Magazine publisher Wesley Wells.
“We are honored to present this award to Mr. Mitchell,” Wells said. “His work has been so instrumental in bringing justice to some very high profile cases here in Mississippi. We are so thankful for his bravery and determination and we look forward to saluting him.”
Mitchell will be honored at the 2019 Our Mississippi Honors Gala on Saturday, March 23 at the BancorpSouth Conference Center in Tupelo. The event recognizes Mississippi corporations and individuals for their diversity practices.
Mitchell’s work has helped put four Klansmen behind bars: Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers; Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers, for ordering the fatal firebombing of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer in 1966; Bobby Cherry, for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four girls; and Edgar Ray Killen, for helping organize the 1964 killings of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner (popularized by the fictional movie about that case, Mississippi Burning).
His work also led to a trial of serial killer Felix Vail, believed to have killed at least three women. In 2016, a Louisiana jury convicted Vail of murdering his first wife 54 years earlier — the oldest conviction in a serial killer case and perhaps the oldest solved cold case in U.S. history.
His stories have also exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations, reforms of state agencies, and the firings of boards and officials. His stories have also helped lead to the release of two people from Mississippi’s Death Row. A winner of a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant and more than 30 other national awards, including being named a Pulitzer Prize finalist, he is finishing his memoir about his pursuit of civil rights cold cases, Race Against Time, for Simon & Schuster. He is co-founder of the new Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.
Mitchell received his degree in journalism at Harding University in 1982 and a master’s in journalism from Ohio State University in 1997. He has received honorary doctorates from both, Millsaps College and Colby College.
Emmy-Award winning actress Lynn Whitfield is the event’s guest speaker.
Tickets for the gala can be purchased online at www.ourmissmag.com or by calling (662) 844-2602.