NET offers free screening of 'Spies of Mississippi'

· 3 min read

NET offers free screening of ‘Spies of Mississippi’

Photo from the documentary "Spies of Mississippi." A free screening of the film is 1 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center.
Courtesy Photo | Spies of Mississippi
Photo from the documentary "Spies of Mississippi." A free screening of the film is 1 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center.

NET’s next “Coffee and Conversation in the Community” film and discussion series continues with a 1 p.m. Dec. 15 screening of “Spies of Mississippi” at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center.

“Coffee and Conversation” is free and open to the public. A moderated discussion of the film follows each screening. The films are shown in partnership with ITVS Community Cinema, Lincoln community radio station KZUM (89.3 FM), the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the Malone Community Center.

“Spies of Mississippi” is a film by producer/director Dawn Porter based on a book of the same name by Rick Bowers.

In the film, it is spring 1964 and tensions are running high in Mississippi. The civil rights community is gearing up for a major operation nicknamed Mississippi Freedom Summer. Hundreds — possibly thousands — of mostly white student activists from the North prepar to link up with dozens of mostly black freedom workers in the Magnolia State to accomplish what the Mississippi power structure fears most: registering black people to vote.

The state’s entrenched white power structure has a different name for Freedom Summer — they call it an “invasion” and fight back.

For the segregationists, Freedom Summer is a declaration of war on the Mississippi way of life. And the state is busy fortifying its Highway Patrol and 82 county sheriff offices with hundreds of newly sworn-in deputies, stockpiling tear gas and riot gear in larger cities and preparing prison wardens and county jailers to expect an influx of summer guests.

But the most powerful men in the state have another even more powerful weapon in their arsenal — a secret so well kept, only a few insiders are privy. A no-nonsense group called the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission has created a secret, state-funded spy agency answering directly to the governor. The commission infiltrates the civil rights coalition, eavesdrops on its most private meetings, and pilfers its most sensitive documents.

The commission’s most potent weapon is a cadre of black operatives who infiltrate the civil rights movement to gain intelligence for the segregationist state.

Both Bowers’ book and the film rely on primary source materials, survivor interviews, oral histories and access to once-secret files.

Following the film a panel that includes Karla Cooper, chaplain and coordinator of service programs at Doane College, and Thomas Christie, multicultural/community administrator for Lincoln Public Schools, will join the audience for a discussion.

For more information on the series and NET Community Engagement and Educational Outreach, go to

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