Western Journal of Communication
In 1994, Byron de la Beckwith was convicted for the 1963 murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Journalism coverage of the trial and the 1996 docudrama Ghosts of Mississippi crafted a social values transformation myth that depicted Beckwith as the primary villain of civil rights past and cast his conviction as a sign that racism had been cleansed from Mississippi. Popular media naturalized this myth intertextually though narrative repetition and through symbolic cues that established the film as a source of historic understanding. These cues deflected critical attention from contemporary social conditions that have maintained racial inequity and continue to prompt racially motivated hate crimes.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in WESTERN JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION on March 11, 2008, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/10570310701828966.
Hoerl, K.E. (2008) Mississippi's Social Transformation in Public Memories of the Trial Against Byron de la Beckwith for the Murder of Medgar Evers. Western Journal of Communication 72(1), pp. 62-82. Available from: digitalcommons.butler.edu/ccom_papers/18/