Judge Carlton Reeves Offers a Lesson in History

Judge Reeves with Mississippi Civil Rights and Labor History Teaching Fellows

Judge Reeves with Mississippi Civil Rights and Labor History Teaching Fellows

U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves, for the Southern District of Mississippi.

U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves, for the Southern District of Mississippi.

In February 2015, U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves read a powerful statement to three young white men before sentencing them for the death of a 48-year-old black man named James Craig Anderson in Jackson, Miss. in 2011. He addressed the history of lynching, his vision for Mississippi, and questions of justice. Here are some excerpts from the speech:

Mississippi has a tortured past, and it has struggled mightily to reinvent itself and become a New Mississippi. New generations have attempted to pull Mississippi from the abyss of moral depravity in which it once so proudly floundered in.

In the Mississippi we have tried to bury, when there was a jury verdict for those who perpetrated crimes and committed lynchings in the name of White Power … that verdict typically said that the victim died at the hands of persons unknown. The legal and criminal justice system operated with ruthless efficiency in upholding what these defendants would call White Power.

Today we take another step away from Mississippi’s tortured past … we move farther away from the abyss. Indeed, Mississippi is a place and a state of mind. And those who think they know about her people and her past will also understand that her story has not been completely written. Mississippi has a present and a future. That present and future has promise. Continue reading this statement.

As pictured above, Judge Reeves was one of the featured speakers at the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and Labor History Teacher Fellowship institute in July, 2015.