Author Details AJC Efforts to "Bowdlerize" Race Series

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The reporter who uncovered a 60-year pattern of expelling African Americans from communities around the country and wrote a series about it last year says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the flagship of the newspaper company he works for, tried to undermine what he produced.

In a book scheduled to arrive in retail stores by March 5, Elliot Jaspin quotes his boss, the Cox Newspapers Washington bureau chief, Andy Alexander, speaking of Julia Wallace, editor of the Atlanta newspaper.

"Wallace's refusal to run the series rankled Alexander," Jaspin wrote. "'I think we both know what's going on here,' he told me in frustration at one point. 'They are afraid of angering white people.'"

The book, "Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America," builds upon the four-part "Leave or Die" series Jaspin wrote last year.

The series was sponsored by Cox's Austin American-Statesman in Texas, and also ran in the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union; the Journal-News in Hamilton, Ohio; the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post; the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News; the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer and the Middletown (Ohio) Journal.

Using computer-assisted reporting, Jaspin documented that, "Beginning in 1864 and continuing for approximately 60 years, whites across the United States conducted a series of racial expulsions. They drove thousands of blacks from their homes to make communities lily-white," as he wrote in the first installment.

One of those communities was Forsyth County, Ga., which is part of the Journal-Constitution's circulation area. In 1987, the county drew national attention, including a tense visit by Oprah Winfrey for her television show, after whites attacked a biracial brotherhood march.

According to Jaspin, who still works in the Cox Washington bureau, the Journal-Constitution has consistently soft-pedaled the racism in Forsyth County in its reporting. For him, that soft-pedaling was part of the story.

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