Spies of Mississippi

Spies of Mississippi

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Join us for a film that shares the story of a secret spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation during the 1950s and ‘60s. ï»¿

WXXI's Community Cinema series is pleased to present Spies of Mississippi, followed by a group discussion, on Monday, November 25, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Little Theatre. Spies of Mississippi reveals the state-sponsored campaign to defeat the Civil Rights Movement. The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission evolved from a predominantly public relations agency to a full-fledged spy operation, spying on over 87,000 Americans over the course of a decade. The Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help infiltrate some of the largest Black organizations — NAACP, CORE, and SNCC. They were granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, keep secret files, make arrests and compel testimony.

The film reveals the full scope and impact of the Commission, including its links to private White supremacist organizations, its ties to investigative agencies in other states, and even a program to bankroll the opposition to civil rights legislation in Washington D.C. Spies of Mississippi tracks the Commission’s hidden role in many of the most important chapters of the civil rights movement, including the integration of the University of Mississippi, the trial of Medgar Evers, and the KKK murders of three civil rights workers in 1964.

Panelists for the group discussion include: 

Kit Miller serves as the director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. Her prior position was as director/celebrator of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication in Oakland, California. In part after coming to understand through meditation about violence within the human heart and mind, Kit began learning about and organizing for nonviolence for the last 20 years in many capacities. She works on community projects related to restorative justice, sustainability and race as applications of nonviolence in Rochester.  Kit co-leads retreats each year in California and at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, working with activists from around the world.  She has 3 children and is amazed and grateful to have been happily married for 21 years.

Arlette Miller Smith, PhD is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi & a proud graduate of Tougaloo College which is still known as the civil rights oasis of the South. Miller Smith is an Associate Professor at St. John Fisher College in the Departments of Interdisciplinary Studies, English and African American Studies. Miller Smith also is director of the African American Studies minor and is an adjunct faculty member in the Executive Leadership Doctoral Program. She is the founding and immediate past Dean of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs at St. John Fisher College.

Miller Smith’s teaching and research interests include African American literature & culture; the intersection of the racialized, gendered and artistic voice of African American women; the written production of early African American women writers; the mobilization of socio-political movements in African American culture, particularly the colored club women’s movement, and women activists in the modern civil rights movement.

Miller Smith is the founder/executive director of AKOMA, Rochester’s African American Women’s Gospel Choir (www.akoma.org) which is comprised of forty-five women from more than twenty churches throughout Rochester.  


Barbara LeSavoy, PhD,  is Director and faculty of  Women and Gender Studies (WMS) at  The College at Brockport in Brockport, NY.   Dr. LeSavoy teaches Feminist Theory, Sex and Culture, and Senior Seminar in Women and Gender Studies,  and she maintains a dynamic scholarship agenda.   Her research and publication areas include women’s global human rights, gender and popular culture, intersectionality and  educational equity/success, and women’s stories as feminist standpoint.  Dr. LeSavoy chairs Rochester/Novgorod  sister city Linkages Women's Partnership Committee and  is currently  leading a three faculty team working on a SUNY National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)  project that will support a global classroom linking students at the College at Brockport with students at Novgorod State University.   Dr. LeSavoy also chairs the Greater Rochester American Association of University Women (AAUW) College/University Partnership committee and the Biennial Seneca Falls Dialogues College Alliance, and she is a founding member of the Greater Rochester Consortium of Women and Gender Studies Faculty.   

WXXI's Community Cinema series features films from the Emmy Award-winning PBS series, Independent Lens. The screenings, held at the Little Theatre (240 East Avenue, Rochester, NY), will be followed by lively panel discussions to encourage dialogue and action around important and timely social issues. These events are free, open to the public, and reservations are not required.

Community Cinema is presented by ITVS and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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