Last summer, in a small town in Mississippi, a white policeman shot and killed a 21-year-old black youth, rekindling for three months the fear, tension, confusion and racism of the 1960s South, and triggering an economic boycott that recalled the early civil rights days of the Freedom Riders.In 1974, Donald J Simon was a junior at Harvard University working as a summer reporter for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. He was assigned to cover the brewing tensions in Byhalia sparked by the killing of 21-year-old Butler Young Jr. by a police officer. The United League of Marshall County, founded and led by Alfred “Skip” Robinson, began a boycott of all nineteen businesses in Byhalia.
The incident, in late June, developed during the long, hot Mississippi summer from an isolated case of questionable police force in to a far-reaching and traumatic example of the persisting racial polarization that continues to haunt the New South.Donald J Simon in The Harvard Crimson, October 2, 1974
When Simon returned to Cambridge that fall, he took the opportunity to tell the story of everything he had covered in a long-form story for the Harvard Crimson.
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