Who killed Wharlest Jackson Sr.? In this feature-length documentary from FRONTLINE and Retro Report, an unsolved 1960s murder reveals an untold story of the civil rights movement and Black resistance.
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“American Reckoning” examines Black opposition to racist violence in Mississippi, spotlighting a little-known armed resistance group called the Deacons for Defense and Justice, woven alongside the Jackson family’s decades-long search for justice amid a federal effort to investigate civil rights era cold cases.
The film draws on intimate, archival film footage from the civil rights era — much of it never-before broadcast — from filmmakers Ed Pincus and David Neuman and made available through the Amistad Research Center. Combining that footage with profound interviews, extensive reporting, and rich archival material from the time of Jackson’s death, the documentary feature also taps into the groundbreaking reporting of the Concordia Sentinel journalist Stanley Nelson, who investigated allegations of the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan offshoot, known as the Silver Dollar Group, in Jackson’s murder.
“American Reckoning” is supported by Chasing the Dream. It’s the latest component in FRONTLINE’s ongoing “Un(re)solved” project — an unprecedented, multiplatform investigation of civil rights era cold case killings that includes a web interactive experience; podcast mini-series; augmented-reality installation that can tour schools, libraries, and museums; a companion educational curriculum; and events.
Learn more about “Un(re)solved”: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/unresolved/
“American Reckoning” is a FRONTLINE Production with 371 Productions in association with Retro Report. The producers, writers, and directors are Brad Lichtenstein and Yoruba Richen. The executive producer for Retro Report is Kyra Darnton. The executive producers for FRONTLINE’s “Un(re)solved” initiative are Dawn Porter and Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.
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FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Park Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.
Funding for ‘American Reckoning” is provided by PBS; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation; the Sundance Institute; the Fetzer Institute; the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream, a public media initiative reporting on poverty, justice, and economic opportunity in America, with major funding by The JPB Foundation and additional funding from The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim, III.
Support for Un(re)solved provided by PBS; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Abrams Foundation; the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation; The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream, a public media initiative that examines poverty, justice, and economic opportunity in America, with major funding by The JPB Foundation and additional funding from The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund; the GBH Catalyst Fund; the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation; the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund; the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center; The Barbra Streisand Foundation and Unity Software, Inc. through its Unity Charitable Fund, a fund of the Tides Foundation.