Tuesday, 23 December 2014


          BLACK        SOCIAL        HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                              

Civil Rights Leader Was Mississippi's Prolific `Agent X'|                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             By Dahleen Glanton, Tribune Staff Writer.

JACKSON, MISS. — The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission files identify him simply as "Agent X." A black man in a state obsessed with preserving Jim Crow segregation, he was perhaps the government's most prolific ally.
The recently unsealed documents reveal that he was a respected civil rights leader in the 1960s, a competent strategist and trusted confidant who attended private meetings and drove young protesters to events in his green and tan Cadillac.
For years, the Sovereignty Commission, a state-funded agency established to thwart integration, held Agent X in its back pocket. He was paid to report on the private lives of his friends, turn over sensitive membership and attendance lists and provide details of planned boycotts, voter registration drives and visits by so-called "outside agitators."
His most damaging work as a snitch occurred his first day on the job in 1964, according to the files, when he provided investigators the license plate number of a blue Ford station wagon registered to the Congress of Racial Equality, information that was circulated throughout the state. On June 21, civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were pulled over in the car for speeding and later were killed by the Ku Klux Klan.
The identity of the informant is widely known in Jackson, where he still resides and until recently worked as an aide to a U.S. congressman.
The mere mention of the name R.L. Bolden, former vice president of the Mississippi NAACP, brings chills to former civil rights workers whom he betrayed. Bolden refuses to talk about the files, but in one published report he confirmed that he had worked for Day Detective Agency, which was retained by the Sovereignty Commission. Bolden said he simply investigated divorce and domestic affairs cases.
"Some people had suspicions, but until now we had no way to prove it. They talked about how Agent X traveled back and forth, who he was with and what car he was in, so we are able to put the pieces together," said Hollis Watkins, a former project director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which worked closely with Bolden.
"The state knew the best way to destroy a movement is from within, so they sought informants who would work with them . . . Some people were informants and didn't know it. . . . But this was not the case with Agent X. He knew precisely what he was doing, and he knew the magnitude to which things would go."
"Bolden was working undercover full-time for the Sovereignty Commission for years, but there were many undercover agents," said Ken Lawrence, a plaintiff in the suit to open the files. "And not all of them were black,"