Samuel Bowers was an Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a leading white supremacist during the Civil Rights Movement. He was convicted of the murder of civil rights worker Vernon Dahmer and served life in prison.
Bowers was the first of many civil rights murders that were successfully tried in South Carolina decades later. In 1998, he was convicted by a jury consisting of five whites and six blacks.
He was an associate of the Ku Klux Klan
Samuel Holloway Bowers co-founded the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. In 1967, he was found guilty of murdering three civil rights workers.
While historians have often struggled to explain why a devoutly religious person would engage in violent and illegal activity, it appears that Bowers’ interest in religion was largely motivated by his belief in the Christian Identity Movement, an ultra-radical Christian sect that viewed Jews as Satanic conspirators against Anglo-Saxon whites.
He believed the communists were leading civil rights movements, something he considered incompatible with traditional Christianity.
Marsh claims that Bowers’ radical Christian interpretation was what drove his activities. This was a worldview many of Bowers’ contemporaries from the South hadn’t even considered accepting. This worldview may have been what he used to execute the Mississippi Burning murders. It was also a worldview that likely helped fuel his racial animus toward federal law enforcement, thereby motivating him to plot the murders of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.
Vernon Dahmer was killed and he was convicted.
Two carloads of KKK members stormed from Jones County after Vernon Dahmer (a farmer and voter rights advocate) announced that his grocery store would be collecting poll taxes. They came to kill Dahmer and his family for their efforts to register voters.
Bowers, the imperial wizard of a Klan faction, was charged with ordering the murder. In 1998, he was found guilty.
Vernon Dahmer was an activist for civil rights, and he was killed in a firebomb attack by KKK members. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for one murder charge.
For the next thirty-two years, Dahmer’s family and supporters fought for justice, reopening the case in 1991 with the help of investigative journalist Jerry Mitchell. It was a long and hard fight, but the family finally received justice for their husband. Four trials resulted in mistrials, and then in 1998, after a second trial, Bowers was finally convicted.
He was a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
Bowers, who was the co-founder of the Ku Klux Klan’s White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1964, was the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Two murders of Mississippi civil rights workers were committed by him: James Chaney’s, Andrew Goodman’s and Michael Schwerners in Neshoba county in 1964 and 1966 respectively.
In addition, he was involved in the destruction of 44 black churches as well as the violence that broke out during Freedom Summer’s voter registration campaign. These crimes were convicted in 1998, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Bowers’ Christian Identity early theology likely had a significant influence on his actions. The vision of the group was to establish a racial holy conflict that would invalidate Jews and render them “imposters”, who were not entitled to exist in this country.
He was an associate of the KKK
Bowers, who was the Grand Dragon of the Mississippi Original Knights of the KKK and was appointed by Imperial Wizard Roy Davis to this position. After the breakup of the Original Knights in 1964, he co-founded the White Knights of the KKK and became its first Imperial Wizard.
He was responsible for the murders of civil rights activists in southern Mississippi, including the firebombing of the home of Vernon Dahmer in 1962. Bowers was convicted in 1998 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The early evidence that Bowers was influenced by Christian Identity suggests that he intended to use the Mississippi Burning killings as an entry point into the type of cycle of violence Swift followers believed would escalate to an end-times race war. He also planned to target Jewish targets, something that made little sense outside of his religious impulse.
While the KKK was a reactionary group, some Klansmen had genuine political goals. Many of them voted for social changes and supported expanded roads construction and prohibition enforcement.