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10-part podcast on lynching of Isadore Banks complete

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All full episodes of ‘ Unfinished: Deep South’ now available via streaming service

[email protected] “Unfinished: Deep South,” a 10-episode podcast about the unsolved lynching of Isadore Banks, a Black Crittenden County farmer and WWI veteran, debuted in July via streaming service Stitcher. Created and reported by Taylor Hom and Neil Shea, the documentary podcast is executive-produced by two-time Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Lynn Nottage (”Sweat”, “Ruined”), Tony Gerber, and Peter Clowney.

Banks, a wealthy Arkansas farmer who found a way to prosper in the Jim Crow South, was tortured and killed in 1954, three weeks after the Supreme Court decision that overturned segregation. Sixty-six years later, this series investigates Banks’ murder, joining his family in their attempt to restore his legacy and solve the crime. The story explores the system of white supremacy that surrounded Banks, traced in forgotten court records, fading FBI files, and testimony of elderly witnesses. “We first heard about Isadore Banks three years ago,” explained Hom.

“Donald Trump had just been elected president.

We’d been working mostly outside the U.S., but decided we wanted to report on our own country, to look inward. We came across a list of unsolved race crimes compiled by the FBI. There were dozens of victims, reaching back to the 1930s.”

Some echoes of the racism and inequality that pervaded society in those days have continued through to today, especially in 2020 as animosity and unrest resurfaced.

“It was an accounting of America’s unfinished business, and it seemed like that business was bubbling back up, reminding us that we all had a stake in it,” said Hom.

Nottage adds, “Now more than ever, we need to interrogate our past, and come to terms with how the painful legacy of lynching in this country continues to shape the way Black bodies are systematically violated.”

Indeed, from the first episode, the creators are not shy about tying the lynching of Banks to the Black Lives Matter movement. Local listeners will no doubt recognize the names named in the docuseries and many of the interviewees will be familiar to Crittenden County residents.

From the Stitcher website: “A small town. A brutal murder. A journey into the heart of America’s unfinished business. Unfinished: Deep South is a race to resolve the unfinished business of a small Arkansas town by starting with one question: who lynched Isadore Banks? Isadore Banks was a wealthy African American farmer and WWI veteran who found a way to prosper in the Jim Crow South — that is, until he was tortured and killed in 1954, just three weeks after the momentous Supreme Court decision that overturned segregation. Sixty-six years later, this series investigates Banks’ murder, joining his family in their attempt to

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File photos ISADORE BANKS (cont.)

restore his legacy and solve the crime before the story goes cold forever. By illuminating one man’s life, our story explores the system of white supremacy that surrounded Banks, traced in forgotten court records, fading FBI files, and testimony of elderly witnesses.”

The first two episodes of “Deep South: Unfinished” were released in July, with the remaining eight episodes released over the past few months. All 10 episodes are now available to stream now at www.stitcher.com. Each episode is between 35 and 40 minutes.

Stitcher is a free streaming service but the site and app do have a premium section, however, the “Deep South” series is free after registration. To listen to the podcast,

Photo by Ralph Hardin

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