Director Comey's Remarks on Jackson Division's 50th Anniversary

Director Comey speaks in a video message shown at an event commemorating the opening of the FBI's Jackson Division 50 years ago.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m FBI Director Jim Comey. Thanks for letting me speak with you today.

Fifty years ago today, the Jackson office opened its doors to the people of Mississippi. It was the Freedom Summer of 1964—a watershed moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

As you know, the years before that Freedom Summer were marred by rampant Jim Crow violence. By 1964, the struggle for civil rights in Mississippi—and across the nation—had reached a fever pitch.

The disappearance of three young Freedom Summer volunteers—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner—ignited a nationwide outcry.

President Johnson and FBI Director Hoover agreed: The FBI was needed in Mississippi.

One hundred and fifty agents were dispatched to the state, the Mississippi Burning investigation began, and the Jackson office was born.

The job was not an easy one for those first employees, who faced threats and hostility from those trying to keep the status quo.

But by the end of August 1964, armed with new legal authorities under the Civil Rights Act—passed just days before the office opened—the Jackson Division had more than 100 civil rights cases. By October, that number had skyrocketed to 859.

Today we mark more than just a 50-year anniversary. We honor an office that opened during some of the darkest times in our country’s history. We recognize agents who bore a heavy responsibility—agents who lived up to that responsibility for every citizen, of every color.

The opening of the Jackson office was driven by history, and this office, in turn, has changed the course of the FBI’s history. Protecting civil rights and preserving civil liberties—these are at the heart of everything we do today. In every investigation and every office, across the country and around the world.

For the past 50 years, the good people of Jackson office have done their utmost—in the words of Martin Luther King—to bend the arc of history—the arc of the moral universe—toward justice.

To the employees of the Jackson Division—past and present—thank you for your service to the FBI and to the citizens of Mississippi.

Thank you for embodying the ideals of our motto—Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity.

And to the citizens of this great state: On behalf of the entire FBI, it has been an honor to serve with you and for you these 50 years. We look forward to many, many more years together.

Thank you.

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