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In Search of the Truth

Since 1994, R. Plater Robinson, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1978, has been investigating the civil rights era murder of Louis Allen in Liberty, Miss.  His research was cited by “60 Minutes,” which aired a segment titled “Cold case: The murder of Louis Allen,” on Sunday night.

Plater is education director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University, where he designs and implements workshops for middle and high school teachers on the topics of the Holocaust and the history of race and civil rights. The goal of the institute is to improve ethnic relations in the Deep South through tolerance education and communications training.

After earning an M.A. in European history from LSU and prior to joining the Institute, Plater worked as a freelance journalist in public radio. He first earned recognition for his reporting on the various 50th anniversaries of events connected to World War II and later did a series of award-winning stories about the rise of David Duke, the neo-Nazi and former Klansman who ran for the U.S. Senate and for governor of Louisiana. That reporting earned him a National Headliner Award along with National Community Broadcaster and New Orleans Press Club awards. He produced a public radio documentary on the 40th anniversary of the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi.

On the Southern Institute of Education and Search website, you can view several interviews that Plater has conducted with Holocaust survivors who live in New Orleans.

As for the “60 Minutes” segment, Plater’s research into the Allen killing included a taped interview with a man who claimed that his son-in-law had seen the former sheriff, Daniel Jones, kill Allen in 1964. He spoke on camera with Steve Kroft, who conducted his own 18-month investigation into the story. On the “60 Minutes” website, you can read about the investigation and can also view the entire video. Plater’s portion of the story begins at the 9:30 mark.