Between Remembrance and Repair

Commemorating Racial Violence in Philadelphia, Mississippi

By Claire Whitlinger

304 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 11 halftones, 1 fig., 2 graphs, 4 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5633-5
    Published: June 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5632-8
    Published: June 2020
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-5634-2
    Published: April 2020
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5773-6
    Published: April 2020

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Few places are more notorious for civil rights–era violence than Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site of the 1964 “Mississippi Burning” murders. Yet in a striking turn of events, Philadelphia has become a beacon in Mississippi’s racial reckoning in the decades since. Claire Whitlinger investigates how this community came to acknowledge its past, offering significant insight into the social impacts of commemoration. Examining two commemorations around key anniversaries of the murders held in 1989 and 2004, Whitlinger shows the differences in how those events unfolded. She also charts how the 2004 commemoration offered a springboard for the trial of former Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen for his role in the 1964 murders, the 2006 passage of Mississippi’s Civil Rights/Human Rights education bill, and the initiation of the Mississippi Truth Project. In doing so, Whitlinger provides the first comprehensive account of these high profile events and expands our understanding of how commemorations both emerge out of and catalyze associated memory movements.

Threading a compelling story with theoretical insights, Whitlinger delivers a study that will help scholars, students, and activists alike better understand the dynamics of commemorating difficult pasts, commemorative practices in general, and the links between memory, race, and social change.

About the Author

Claire Whitlinger is assistant professor of sociology at Furman University.

For more information about Claire Whitlinger, visit the Author Page.


“Whitlinger provides a compelling, analytically rich study that makes meaningful contributions to multiple disciplines. She unpacks how collective memory can translate into structural change, and in doing so provides an additional—and powerful—explanation of why commemorating racial violence matters. For anyone trying to understand how commemorating the past can change the present, Between Remembrance and Repair has much to offer.”—H-Net Reviews

“A balanced and thoughtful analysis that . . . contributes to debates in the areas of collective memory, social movements, social psychology, and race and draws on central theoretical concepts in these fields.”—Journal of African American History

“Exceedingly well written, this is a welcome addition to the literature on the legacy of civil rights violence. Whitlinger provides not only an important specific contribution to our understanding of the civil rights movement's impact on local communities, but also a powerful generalized account of the capacity of collective memory to produce more enduring cultural and institutional change. Compelling and important.”—David Cunningham, Washington University in St. Louis

Between Remembrance and Repair will become a benchmark for scholars interested in collective memory and commemoration, race, social movements, and various issues related to national and local community politics. Claire Whitlinger weaves a convincing analysis into a compelling story in each chapter. This well-conceived, sophisticated, and stimulating book will help scholars and students alike understand the complex dynamics of commemorating difficult and silenced pasts.”—Thomas DeGloma, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York