This Day in History

Feb. 28, 1964: Clifton Walker Murdered

Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Racism & Racial Identity
Clifton Walker

Clifton Walker. Courtesy of the Clifton Walker family.

On Feb. 28, 1964, Clifton Walker was murdered by the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan while on his way home from his late work shift at the International Paper plant in Wilkinson County, Mississippi.

An African American U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, Walker’s murder was believed to be the first by this new KKK group. (The same group responsible for the murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Micky Schwerner.)

Walker’s murder remains a cold case. The Department of Justice closed the case.

The traditional narrative in textbooks about the Civil Rights Movement leaves out stories like this that are examples of the widespread and often fatal white supremacist violence against African Americans.

Walker was one of many Black veterans killed in the fight for democracy on their return to the United States. As W. E. B. Du Bois said, “We return. We return from fighting. We return fighting.”

For a detailed description of the murder of Clifton Walker and the “investigation,” read A Deep South Cold Case Goes Frigid by Ben Greenberg on Narratively.com. In the trailer below, watch portions of Greenberg’s investigation unfold, meet three of Clifton Walker’s children, and visit the crime scene, where Walker was murdered.

Traitor Town: The Unsolved Civil Rights Murder of Clifton Walker from Ben Greenberg on Vimeo.