City Gangs and a Lynching in Mississippi

Published: 1959
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
Original caption: Prize winning picture: United Press International (UPI) photographer Charles J. McCarty of Dallas, TX, received a top award in the 16th Annual News Pictures of the Year competition here in Columbia, MO, on May 2nd, 1959, for this photo of Negro student Johnny Gray punching a white student during a brief skirmish on a street in Little Rock, Arkansas. The photo was taken last September 16, 1958, when tension surrounding school integration in the city was at a high peak. McCarty, who is Southwestern Division Pictures Manager for UPI, won First Prize in the Spot News category for this photo. The contest was sponsored jointly by the National Press Photographers Association, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. (UPI Photo/Files)

Announcer: Now to different voices, unknowns, unimportant except in the part they played in our widespread problem of juvenile delinquency.

First, Chicago, teenaged gang war, a shaken young boy tells the coroner how his friend died in his arms.

Unknown speaker: "I guess he saw Mike's car go by. And he hollered out, 'Mike, stop, I'm cut; take me home.' And he... Mike stopped the car, and Bob flopped on top of the car in a bag. And he fell into the street, and I ran over to him and I knelt down, I grabbed his hand. I had blood all over me, and when I asked him if he was all right, he just stared in the sky; he didn't say nothing."

Announcer: Then to New York, the voice of a mother whose son was killed by hoodlums.

Unknown speaker: "You ever walk into an empty place when you think there's a boy up there?"

Newsman: "What do you think should be done with these boys?"

Unknown speaker: "Give 'em the chair. Don't you think they should get it? What do you think should be done with 'em? What do you think, let 'em out six months? Put 'em in now, big publicity, big shot, and then out he can boast he killed five boys."

Newsman: "Do you think the police should be rougher on them?"

Unknown speaker: "The police, they should let 'em beat their brains out."

Announcer: To Poplarville, Mississippi, where in the darkness between midnight and dawn on the last Saturday of April 1959 a masked mob broke into the jail and dragged out Negro prisoner Mack Parker, accused of assaulting a white woman.

Under skillful questioning of a reporter, a fellow prisoner tells what he saw.

Newsman: "Were they wearing masks?"

Unknown speaker: "Yes, sir."

Newsman: "Did they carry guns?"

Unknown speaker: "Yes, sir, probably"

Newsman: "Was there a fight?"

Unknown speaker: "Yes, sir, they started fightin'."

Newsman: "Did Parker put up a pretty good fight?"

Unknown speaker: "I don't know, sir. It was dark in here and we was all on the other side over there, and, but he ran out afterward over there nearby us, and we stood to the right of him and they began fightin' over there."

Newsman: "These cells are connected. Some one of you fellas could've helped him last night. Did anybody try to help?"

Unknown speaker: "No, sir, because it was other dangers. They had guns on us, too."

Newsman: "They -- they held guns on you?"

Unknown speaker: "Yes, sir, they... in other words, necessarily wasn't holdin' guns on us; but we 'fraid if we do anything, they would-- some of those watchin' us told us, 'Don't move.'"

Newsman: "What do you think has happened to him?"

Unknown speaker: "What did we think was goin' on?"

Newsman: "What do you think has happened to him now?"

Unknown speaker: "Well, I don't know, sir. From the shape he was in last night, look like it was 'bout the end for him."

Announcer: And it was the end for Parker; he was lynched. Mississippi later closed its books on the case. But the Federal Government is now pursuing it.

Now, to the shattering of the quiz show and the story that led to a reexamination of television programming. Quiz shows were watched by millions. Charles Van Doren became an idol of them, winning fame and fortune on one such program. He finally broke down and went to a Congressional Committee to bare the whole thing. The show was rigged, he said. He repeats this in a crowded Capitol corridor.

Charles Van Doren: "For each program, the producer would ask me the questions. I usually could answer them. Even when I could answer them, however, he would say that my answers were not entertaining, not interesting enough, and he would tell me then what manner to answer these questions. If I couldn't answer the questions, he would say, 'Go look 'em up' if there was time. I always did wanna look up the answers myself and find out as much about the subjects as was possible. And so it went 14 weeks."