Spies of Mississippi
Independent Lens | Spies of Mississippi | Trailer | PBS (by IndependentLens)
“do and perform any and all acts deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi, and her sister states …” from perceived “encroachment thereon by the Federal Government or any branch, department or agency thereof.”
In practice this meant extensive, state-sponsored spying on and counterintelligence against countless citizens of Mississippi who were suspected of taking part in civil rights activity. The Commission also aided other states in forming similar anti-Civil Rights Movement agencies.
The history of the Sovereignty Commission, from 1956–1977, is essential to understanding Civil Rights Movement history and is full of cautionary tales that should be kept in mind in current debates regarding the surveillance state.