A small town. A brutal murder.
A journey into the heart of America's unfinished business.
UNFINISHED: DEEP SOUTH is a 10-part podcast that investigates the lynching of a wealthy black farmer in Arkansas at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. In June 1954, three weeks after the momentous Supreme Court decision that overturned segregation, Isadore Banks was kidnapped, tortured, chained to a tree and set on fire. Banks’ murder terrorized the black community on the Arkansas Delta, foreshadowing a wave of white violence that would soon sweep the broader South. In his hometown of Marion, Banks’ killers worked quickly to steal his land and erase his name, while intimidating those who had begun standing against oppression.
Sixty-five years later, we investigate Banks’ murder, joining his family in their attempt to restore his legacy and solve the crime before the story goes cold forever. What we find will shake a small Southern town from its silence, reveal the story of African American prosperity on the Delta, and trace the roots of racial terror from Isadore’s day up through our own.
"Truth crushed to earth will rise again. We are in a deep season of terror and darkness. White supremacy and the distorted belief in Black inferiority was once a formula for getting along. Now, we have changed our minds for ourselves and for our destiny. We began marching, protesting. We have the power to change the whole world. Unfinished: Deep South podcast is a timely reminder of how the dark past still has repercussions today."
Reverend Jesse Jackson, Founder & President of Rainbow PUSH Coalition
“A ghostly narrative from the past that feels maddeningly present, Unfinished: Deep South weaves a nuanced narrative of forgotten Black lives from the South — reverent in tone, vital in its inquest.”
Rebecca Carroll, Cultural critic at WNYC and host of
Come Through with Rebecca Carroll
"Unfinished Deep South is a tremendously smart and compelling series that investigates the the lynching of Isadore Banks, a wealthy black farmer in Arkansas. Terror and theft coalesce in this brutal murder. White supremacy is not only upheld by the law, it is the law. Unfinished: Deep South could not be more timely; it is required listening."
Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, 2019 MacArthur Fellow
“You might not know it yet, but the story of Isadore Banks — a black farmer lynched in Arkansas in 1954 --- is a vital part of the history you're currently living through. ‘A lynching does more than kill a body; it shatters an identity.’ If you want to be better, know yourself, take the time to get to know him.”
Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives
“This gripping and devastating story of Isadore Banks is a must listen. A stunning investigation into his murder eerily mirrors the racial injustice that sadly we still are experiencing today.”
Sanaa Lathan, Award-winning actress
Created and Reported by Taylor Hom & Neil Shea.
Editors: Peter Clowney, Gianna Palmer, and Tracey Samuelson
Executive Producers: Lynn Nottage, Tony Gerber, Peter Clowney, and Chris Bannon
Senior Producers: Laura Colleluori and Stephanie Kariuki
Producing by: Lisa John Rogers, Shahruz Ghaemi, and Joy Okon Sunday
Mixing Engineer: Casey Holford
Music: Hubby Jenkins
Original Theme Music and Scoring: Casey Holford, with Ryan Thornton and Dan Costello
Additional Research: Jay W. Driskell and Carmen White
Fact Checkers: Soraya Shockley and Michelle Harris
Interns: Brooke LaMantia and Lukas Noguchi
Special thanks to Jim & Elaine Banks, Dorothy and Marcelina Williams, Geraldine White, Norma Radford, Barbara & Dr. Leonard Lawrence, Isadore Butler Banks, and the entire extended family of Isadore Banks, who gave generously of their time, their patience, and their memories.
Additional thanks to: Willie Gammon, Rosalind O'Neal, Rob Hom, Toby Moore, Ashraf Rushdy, Cherisse Jones-Branch, John Kirk, Pete Daniel, Bill Arnold, Story Matkin-Rawn, Rachel Walton, Margaret Burnham, Brian Hilburn, Tasmin Din, The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University, and The 78 Project.