Power Corrupts

Essay by NavjitHigh School, 12th gradeA, June 2004

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"Mississippi Burning is a racial fight for freedom and justice" writes reporter Navjit Kang.

"Mississippi Burning" takes place during 1964 at the heart of the civil rights movement. It deals with the racial bigotry in Jessep County, Mississippi. Two FBI agents, Anderson (Gene Hackman) and Ward (Willem Dafoe) investigate the mystery murder of three civil rights workers by breaching the conspiracy of silence in a small southern town of Mississippi where segregation divides black and white. It accurately describes the conditions and hardships that the American Negroes had to endure in the 'Old South' of the 1960's. Mississippi Burning is a perfect portrayal of racial unrest and the conception of prejudice is shown by continuous unflinching images. "Mississippi Burning" shows the imbalance of power being abused by blatant racism. The movie shows the black community and the FBI agents' journey from disempowerment to empowerment and the racist white population of Jessep County's disempowerment.

Thus beginning a fight for racial freedom and justice.

The arrival of the FBI agents strengthens the hostility between the black and the white communities. As Anderson and Ward investigate, they discover that the whites are too prejudiced to talk to them and the blacks are victims of physical violence and threats made by the whites, which makes them to frightened to tell the FBI. Parker has skilfully positioned the viewer to see the blacks to be disempowered, creating an imbalance of power existing between the communities. The whites have all the power and the blacks are those who are disempowered through race, socio - economic status, physical strength, and knowledge.

The opening scene of the movie is a still shot of two drinking fountains, one for the 'whites' and the other for the 'coloureds'. A burly white man drinks from his fountain and walks...