February 10, 2014

Spies of Mississippi

Independent Lens | Spies of Mississippi | Trailer | PBS (by IndependentLens)

Airing tonight on PBS, Spies of Mississippi is a documentary about the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission—a state funded spy agency formed in 1956 to

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.

Further reading on hungryblues.net

mississippi sovereignty commission film documentary pbs independent lens civil rights movement hungryblues.net surveillance privacy civil liberties

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