Religion Unplugged

A journalist’s faith: New memoir tells how justice prevailed in civil rights era murders

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

Editor’s note: Every Friday, “Weekend Plug-In” features analysis, insights and top headlines from the world of faith. Got feedback or ideas for this column? Email Bobby Ross Jr. at

“To the One who loves justice.”

That’s the simple dedication at the start of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell’s long-awaited memoir, “Race Against Time,” which hits bookstores Tuesday.

It reflects the deep Christian faith of the veteran Mississippi journalist, whose stories helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars.

“God loves justice,” Mitchell, 60, told me in a telephone interview.

Jerry Mitchell. Photo via Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.

Mitchell, a 1982 journalism graduate of Harding University in Searcy, Ark., worked for The Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Miss., for 33 years. He left in 2018 to found the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit watchdog news organization.

Although Mitchell’s novel is written in first person, he stressed that it’s not about him. (Nonetheless, at least one reviewer suggests that readers might conclude, rightly, that he is a “hero.”)

“It’s really about these families, about the journey to justice and what all took place,” Mitchell said. “To me, the larger story is what’s important.”

What is that larger story?

Bestselling author John Grisham put it this way in endorsing the book, published by Simon & Schuster: “For almost two decades, (Mitchell) doggedly pursued the Klansmen responsible for some of the most notorious murders of the civil rights movement. This book is his amazing story. Thanks to him, and to courageous prosecutors, witnesses, and FBI agents, justice finally prevailed.”

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This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

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