Monday, February 27, 2017

Editor-publisher Stan Dearman, who helped bring justice in killing of civil-rights workers, dies at 84

Stanley Dearman
Longtime Mississippi newspaper publisher Stanley Dearman died Saturday at 84. Dearman and Jim Prince, his successor at The Neshoba Democrat, were the second winners, after the award's namesakes, of the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which publishes The Rural Blog. They won the award in 2008 for successful efforts to bring to justice the killers of three civil-rights workers in Neshoba County in 1964.

The Rural Blog reported in 2008: "Though seven men allied with the Ku Klux Klan were convicted of federal conspiracy charges, none served more than six years, 11 others went free, and the case was never prosecuted by the State of Mississippi until Stanley Dearman, Jim Prince and others called and worked for action." Dearman continued to pursue the case after selling the paper to Prince in 2000. "On June 21, 2005—exactly 41 years to the day after the three were abducted, killed and buried—a local jury convicted former Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen of three counts of manslaughter."

Dearman and Prince were drivers of The Philadelphia Coalition, which pushed for state action. Jerry Mitchell wrote for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger in 2008: “I have no doubt in my mind this case would have never wound up in court if not for Prince, Dearman, the coalition and so many others, including the families of those slain, who never gave up believing justice would be done one day.”

Upon Dearman's death, Mitchell wrote a tribute to Dearman, saying he spent 34 years "covering everything from the city council to the sheriff’s department to the zoning board. Each week, he read through wedding announcements and obituaries to make sure all the names were spelled right." In 2007 he received the Silver Em Award, the highest journalism award from his alma mater, the University of Mississippi.

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