Cecil Ray Price (April 15, 1938 - May 6, 2001) was a former deputy sheriff of Neshoba County, Mississippi and member of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1964 he played a role in the murders of three civil rights workers. Price stopped the three men for speeding, detained them in the county jail ,and prevented them form having contact with any outsiders, while he and fellow Klansmen worked out a murder scheme. He then released the three men, pursued them, detained them again, and drove them to an isolated spot where they were murdered.
Price was never charged with the murders, although he was convicted of violating the three men's civil rights, and served four years on a six year sentence. Price died of injuries he sustained in a fall in 2001. At the time of his death, prosecutors were considering bringing charges against some of the remaining suspects in the murders, including Price.
Cecil Price in "He Woke in Darkness"
Throughout his life Cecil Price had a recurring nightmare. In it, the racial hierarchy of Mississippi was reversed from the one Price knew. Within his dream, blacks were dominant over whites, and met a civil rights movement with the same vitriol that Price and his fellows had in real life.
The nightmare was always the same. Price would have a brief moment wherein he believed himself dead. He would then snap back to "reality", wherein he was driving a vehicle owned by the Racial Alliance for Complete Equality (RACE) as he drove through Neshoba County, on the road to Philadelphia, Mississippi, with Meridian the final destination. In the back seat with him would be Muhammad Shabazz and Tariq Abdul-Rashid, two Black Muslims from the North and fellow members of RACE. They mirrored Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.
The three men would be stopped by a Neshoba County deputy sheriff for speeding, much as Price stopped the three civil rights workers. This deputy was black, in keeping with the dream-world. The deputy clearly knew that RACE owned the vehicle they were driving, and expected Larry Rainey, prominent white member of RACE, to be behind the wheel. When the deputy saw the Black Muslims in the back seat, he arrested all three men, despite the attempts of the white Price to be deferential. After taking them back to Philadelphia, he ordered a secretary to deny the three men their right to a phone call and to deny that they were in custody. The deputy left to consult with a man called the "Priest", the recruiter for the local chapter of the Black Knights of Voodoo.
After several hours, the deputy returned and released the three men. He ordered them to leave Philadelphia. However, not much later, the deputy caught up to them, and again took them into custody. The three were taken to an isolated area, where they were met by several members of the BKV. Despite Muhammad Shabazz' appeals to reason, he and Tariq Abdul-Rashid were shot in the head and killed instantly. Price, however, panicked, and ran. He was shot in the back, although not fatally. He was then beaten by the BKV members, who broke both of his arms and repeatedly kicked him in the groin and head. They then shot him again, this time fatally. However, Price still wasn't dead. He and the bodies of the two Black Muslims were buried in a earthwork dam, and Price's last moments saw him buried alive.
Price would usually wake up at this point. This nightmare haunted him for the rest of his life, even when he was imprisoned for violating the civil rights of Chaney, Goodman and Schwermer. He was never tried for murder, and never quite publically admitted his guilt. He often wondered if the other men who killed the workers were plagued by the same dream, but he never could bring himself to ask.
He died in 2001 after a fall. Even in death, the nightmare continued.