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Murder in Mobile: An investigation into the plight of African Americans

African Americans

Murder in Mobile is a documentary directed by Adam Fischer. It tells the story of Rayfield Davis, a middle-aged African American man who was beaten to death in 1948 by a 20-year-old white man named Horace Miller on the high-edged bank of a shallow brooklet in Mobile, Alabama, United States. The man died needlessly and unjustly. The murderer was not prosecuted, despite his confession of the crime. This felony was ignored, like many other murders and homicides of African Americans.

 

The investigation revived in 2012, when Chelsea Schmitz, a law student at Northeastern University, was assigned this case as part of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project. This project investigates the cases of racially motivated murders that had gone ignored during the Jim Crow era. Nearly 1500 more cases are left to be uncovered by this project group. The documentary tells how Schmitz uncovered the details of the murder, how she reached Nichole Ulmer, a distant cousin of Rayfield, and connected the dots to get in contact with Miller and his family finally. Her discoveries led to a shocking conclusion and paved the way for justice for the Blacks. It’s a film about race, murder, and several atrocities faced by African Americans.

 

There are many unresolved cases of racial violence against Blacks from 1930 to 1970. The cases which happened between 1930 and 1955 have no evidence and are the most unnoticed one due to the unavailability of media coverage of these events. In August 2018, The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project honoured six Black men who were murdered in Mobile during the 1940s by White men, who were never prosecuted for their crimes.

 

This remarkable story of justice served after seven decades, earned a Boston Regional Emmy Reward in the documentary category, and was screened at seventeen film festivals in five countries.

 

Kriti Vishwakarma