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Terror and Truth - Civil Rights Tourism and the Mississippi Movement

Terror and Truth

Civil Rights Tourism and the Mississippi Movement

By Stephen A. King & Roger Davis Gatchet
Series: Race, Rhetoric, and Media Series

Hardcover : 9781496846532, 294 pages, 17 b&w illustrations, August 2023
Paperback : 9781496846549, 294 pages, 17 b&w illustrations, August 2023

The first critical examination of Mississippi’s civil rights tourism industry


Stephen A. King and Roger Davis Gatchet examine how Mississippi confronts its history of racial violence and injustice through civil rights tourism. Mississippi’s civil rights memorials include a vast constellation of sites and experiences—from the humble Fannie Lou Hamer Museum in Ruleville to the expansive Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson—where the state’s collective memories of the movement are enshrined, constructed, and contested. Rather than chronicle the history of the Mississippi Movement, the authors explore the museums, monuments, memorials, interpretive centers, homes, and historical markers marketed to heritage tourists in the state.

Terror and Truth: Civil Rights Tourism and the Mississippi Movement is the first book to examine critically and unflinchingly Mississippi’s civil rights tourism industry. Combining rhetorical analysis, onsite fieldwork, and interviews with museum directors, local civil rights entrepreneurs, historians, and movement veterans, the authors address important questions of memory and the Mississippi Movement. How is Mississippi, a poor, racially divided state with a long history of systemic racial oppression and white supremacy, actively packaging its civil rights history for tourists? Whose stories are told? And what perspectives are marginalized in telling those stories? The ascendency of civil rights memorialization in Mississippi comes at a time when the nation is reckoning with its racial past, as evidenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, Mississippi’s adoption of a new state flag, the conviction of former members of the Ku Klux Klan, and the removal of Confederate monuments throughout the South. Terror and Truth directly engages this national conversation.


"Terror and Truth is thorough, creative, and insightful."

- Patricia G. Davis, author of Laying Claim: African American Cultural Memory and Southern Identity

"Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, Terror and Truth goes far beyond the story of civil rights tourism in Mississippi. Authors King and Gatchet focus on the Mississippi Movement’s history, asking ‘how that movement continues, or can continue to achieve social justice in the present.’ Their concluding chapter on the stunning Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is worth the price of admission itself."

- John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, recipient of the Bancroft Prize in History

"Terror & Truth: Civil Rights Tourism and the Mississippi Movement offers a detailed look at civil rights tourism and how state actors remember the movement in Mississippi."

- Jodi Skipper, The Public Historian

"King and Gatchet explore how the people and events of the Civil Rights Movement are remembered in Mississippi through historical markers, preserved heritage sites, and museums. The authors provide detailed descriptions of various places and exhibits, including the privately run Fannie Lou Hamer Civil Rights Museum in Belzoni, the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Jackson, the Emmitt Till Historic Intrepid Center in Glendora, and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, among many others, examining how location, funding, access, and marketing to tourist affect each site's mission. Whose perspective is considered in public memory? What is the goal of "dark tourism"? Who benefits from such tourism? In asking these questions an recording these sites, King and Gatchet document how Mississippi confronts its brutal past, abandoning a whitewashed version of history in favor of truth-telling and justice."

- D. Baldwin, CHOICE