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Death in the Delta: Uncovering a Mississippi Family Secret
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi (2012).
First Edition. Signed. $28.00
Growing up, Molly Walling could not fathom the source of the dark and
intense discomfort in her family home. Then in 2006 she discovered her
father's complicity in the murder of two black men on December 12, 1946,
in Anguilla, deep in the Mississippi Delta. "Death in the Delta" tells
the story of one woman's search for the truth behind a closely held,
sixty-year old family secret. Though the author's mother and father
decided that they would protect their three children from that past, its
effect was profound. When the story of a fatal shoot-out surfaced,
apprehension turned into a devouring need to know.
Walling's trips from North Carolina to the Delta brought unsettling and
unexpected clues. After a hearing before an all-white grand jury, her
father's case was not prosecuted. Indeed, it appeared as if the incident
never occurred, and he resumed his life as a small-town newspaper
editor. Yet family members of one of the victims tell her their stories.
A ninety-three-year-old black historian and witness gives context and
advice. A county attorney suggests her family's history of commingling
with black women was at the heart of the deadly confrontation. Firsthand
the author recognizes how privilege, entitlement, and racial bias in a
wealthy, landed southern family resulted in a deadly abuse of power
followed by a stifling, decades-long cover up.
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