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Reveal and PRX will premiere a new seven-part serial investigation ‘Mississippi Goddam: The Ballad of Billey Joe’ October 16. It’s a detailed look at the circumstances of the death of a 17 year old Black top high school football recruit.
Billey Joe Johnson reportedly died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound after being pulled over by a white police officer in Lucedale, Mississippi on December 8, 2008. The host, Al Letson and co-reporter Jonathan Jones have unearthed troubling questions and a deeply flawed investigation by law enforcement.
“We don’t know what happened to Billey Joe, and it’s not our job to find out. Our job is to ask the questions that investigators never did and to finally give the Johnson family something that they have been yearning for: to be heard,” said Letson. “This story pulled me in immediately, because it reminded me of growing up as a Black kid in the south, where justice looks different for different people. It’s about the Mississippi that Nina Simone sang about, but also very much about America. So while our series is called Mississippi Goddam, really it should be called America Goddam.”
The series will run on more than 540 public radio stations nationwide and be available on all major podcast platforms.