Internationally renowned reporter Jerry Mitchell, whose investigative work has helped solve cold murder cases from the civil rights era, will share his stories of justice and redemption at the University of Central Florida.
Mitchell’s presentation, titled “Journalism and Justice: A Sojourn in the Moral Arc of History,” will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Nicholson School of Communication as part of the College of Sciences’ Distinguished Speaker series.
In 1989, Mitchell, a court reporter for the Jackson, Miss.-based The Clarion Ledger, was inspired to look into old civil rights cases after watching the film “Mississippi Burning.” He persuaded authorities to reopen several cold murder cases. Since then, new evidence he helped to uncover has led authorities throughout the South to reexamine killings and make 27 arrests that resulted in 22 convictions.
“I think that anyone who attends Jerry’s presentation will find his narrative compelling,” said Robert Chandler, director of the Nicholson School of Communication. “They will have the chance to interact with someone who has not only covered history but who has also made history and even changed history through investigative journalism.”
Mitchell was portrayed in the 1996 film “Ghosts of Mississippi,” which is about the belated effort to bring a civil rights era killer to justice. He was featured in the Learning Channel civil rights documentary “Civil Rights Martyrs,” and he served as a consultant for the Discovery Channel documentary “Killed by the Klan.”
Mitchell has won more than 30 national awards for his investigative work, including a MacArthur Foundation genius grant and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service. He has been profiled by “Nightline,” USA Today, The New York Times and the American Journalism Review, and he has regularly appeared as an expert on CNN and other networks.
After Mitchell’s presentation, Nicholson School students, staff and faculty members and alumni are invited to join him at a reception from 7:45 to 9:45 p.m. in the Cape Florida Ballroom (room 316) of the Student Union.