Ernest Parker

Earnest Parker of Natchez is shown taking the 5th Amendment before the House Un-American Activities Commette in 1966 investigating his Ku Klux Klan activities in Mississippi. (Credit: National Archives)
Earnest Parker of Natchez is shown taking the 5th Amendment before the House Un-American Activities Commette in 1966 investigating his Ku Klux Klan activities in Mississippi. (Credit: National Archives)

By Andrea Gallo | LSU Student

In 1964, Ku Klux Klan activist James Ford Seale beat two black teenagers in Franklin County, Miss., forced them into a car and later killed them by throwing them into a Louisiana offshoot of the Mississippi River.

Their crime: One of the victims made his wife uncomfortable. The other happened to be at his side when confronted.

The case turned cold in the racially overheated Mississippi, but in 2007 Seale was later convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy in 2007 once the civil rights era cold case was re-opened along with more than 100 others.

But the red Ford that now-deceased Seale used to transport Henry Dee, a student at Alcorn State erroneously thought to be a black Muslim, and Charles Moore, who apparently was in the wrong place at the wrong time, to where they would meet death did not belong to Seale. It was his best friend's, wealthy cattle and oil businessman Ernest Parker of Natchez whose large FBI file reveals only snippets about this mystery man who was a known KKK member.

When Parker, now deceased, was called to appear in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1966, investigator Donald T. Appell alluded to his involvement in the Dee and Moore killings with both his Jeep and boat. HUAC's questioners reported they found several Willys jeep chassis on his property, and a jeep motor block weighed down the bodies of Dee and Moore once they were thrown into the Old River near Tallulah, La.

An FBI informant reported that Parker and Seale "had put two niggers in the river" by anchoring one to a Jeep motor block. Before taking Dee and Moore to the river, Parker and Seale beat them in Franklin County, Miss., and forced them into Parker's car that had been lined with a plastic tarpaulin to avoid blood stains.

A multimillionaire, Parker owned many vehicles but confided to the FBI informant that he was worried about using the Jeep motor block because the engine's serial numbers could come back to haunt him, adding that he and Seale said they were having trouble sleeping at night.

Parker's boat was also investigated. "There was only a certain type of boat that could possibly be used, and the only type of boat on the river which could be used for this was a barge similar to the one that you own," the HUAC transcript reads.

Evoking the 5th Amendment which protects a person from having to say something that could incriminate himself, Parker refused to answer any question directed to him during the HUAC hearing, which ranged from his relationship with Seale to his involvement in the Dee and Moore killings to his membership of the White Knights of the KKK.

Seale and Parker, as revealed through the HUAC hearings, often went hunting and fishing together and took Parker's plane to Palmyra, an island on the Mississippi River where Dee and Moore may have been taken for heir beatings. Parker owned 25,000 acres of the 35,000- acre island.

Parker also owned a Cessna 170 aircraft, but multiple sources told the FBI that it was highly unlikely that the plane was large enough or that Parker was capable of using it to transport the two dead bodies. His FBI file includes multiple confirmations that he flew his airplane over Brookhaven, Miss. and dropped Klan literature.

Despite his possible involvement in the Dee and Moore killings and the other crimes he for which he was suspected, Parker was a much more low-key in his Klan activities than Seale.

Many in the Seale family were involved in the Klan, and Parker had a falling out with James Ford Seale's brother, Myron Wayne "Jack" Seale, in 1967 over acts he allegedly never committed.

Parker was also trying to find out who killed Wharlest Jackson in a car bombing outside of Armstrong Tire and Rubber Co. because the murder made him and his organization look bad, according to his HUAC file. Jack Seale was recently revealed to have been an FBI informant.

In addition, Parker told another FBI informant he didn't want anything to do with Red Glover, the leader of the KKK's violent Silver Dollar Group. Parker was a member of the group at one point, but he told an informant that Glover was a thief and that he should be cut off from everyone.

Parker was also a member of the Americans for the Preservation of the White Race (APWR). Along with Roland Scott and Otis Houston, Parker set up a private school in the old Baptist Church in Washington, Miss. as part of APWR.