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"Two Towns of Jasper": Two Filmmakers, One Black and One White, Explore the Black and White Communities in the Town Where James Byrd Was Lynched in 1998

January 13, 2003

It was June 7th, 1998 in Jasper, Texas. James Byrd was chained to a pick-up truck and dragged to his death. James Byrd was black. The three men who murdered him were white.

The town of Jasper was forever altered, and the nation woke up to the horror of modern-day lynching.

There is a new film now, called 'Two Towns of Jasper'. In it, two film crews, one black and one white, set out to document the aftermath of the murder, by following the subsequent trials of the local men charged with the crime. The result is an explicit and troubling portrait of race in America. One that asks how and why a crime like this could have occurred.

We’re going to begin where the film begins, and that is with a description of the crime. It begins with Sheriff Bill Rowls.


  • Marco Williams, filmmaker, 'Two Towns of Jasper.'
  • Whitney Dow, filmmaker, 'Two Towns of Jasper.'