My name is Samara Freemark. I'm a producer at Radio Diaries - we produce
historical documentaries for NPR's All Things Considered.
We're currently working on a story about a 1940s-era case in Mississippi. In
1945, a black man named Willie McGee was arrested and accused of raping a
white woman. Over the next six years, his case became a cause celebre:
Einstein, Faulkner, Josephine Baker and others spoke out in support of
McGee; there were protests in cities across the US and in Paris, China,
Russia, and other countries. He was defended by the Civil Rights Congress
(CRC), who hired Bella Abzug to argue the case. Eventually, McGee was
executed in Mississippi's portable electric chair at midnight on the morning
of May 8th, 1951.
We're looking for any audio archival materials that mention the McGee case.
Any archival materials on the portable electric chair (I think it was
inaugurated in the early '40s). Any materials from the protests surrounding
his case - in the US, or abroad (apparently Radio Peking mentioned McGee at
some point). Anything from that era that mentions Bella Abzug or the CRC.
Any general archival material on race relations in the American South in the
1940s and early 50s (the dates are before the real start of the civil rights
movement, so archive has proven a bit difficult to track down.) Apparently
there was a nationwide NBC radio broadcast that mentioned McGee on the night
of execution (May 7th); we're looking for that too.
Any help or advice you can offer would be so very appreciated. You can reach
me at [log in to unmask]
Thanks so much for your help,
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