So the Heffners Left McComb
The shocking tale of a white Mississippi family ostracized and devastated after breaking bread with civil rights workers
On Saturday, September 5, 1964, the family of Albert W. "Red" Heffner Jr. , a successful insurance agent, left their house at 202 Shannon Drive in McComb, Mississippi, where they had lived for ten years. They never returned. In the eyes of neighbors, their unforgiveable sin was to have spoken on several occasions with civil rights workers and to have invited two into their home. Consequently, the Heffners were subjected to a campaign of harassment, ostracism, and economic retaliation shocking to a white family who believed that they were respected community members.
So the Heffners Left McComb, originally published in 1965 and reprinted now for the first time, is Greenville journalist Hodding Carter's account of the events that led to the Heffners' downfall. Historian Trent Brown, a McComb native, supplies a substantial introduction evaluating the book's significance. The Heffners' story demonstrates the forces of fear, conformity, communal pressure, and threats of retaliation that silenced so many white Mississippians during the 1950s and 1960s. Carter's book provides a valuable portrait of a family who was not choosing to make a stand, but merely extending humane hospitality. Yet the Heffners were systematically punished and driven into exile for what was perceived as treason against white apartheid.