On a June morning in 1998, Rodney Pearson, the first black highway patrolman in Jasper, Texas, got a call. He walked along a mile and half of drag marks, skin and blood, and found the spot in the woods where three white supremacists had wrapped a logging chain around James Byrd Jr.'s ankles, hooked it to a pickup truck and dragged the 49-year-old black man to death along an asphalt road.
Thirteen years later, Jasper's city council named Pearson (pictured at left) as its first black police chief. The town has changed a lot since Byrd's murder, and Pearson's election could have symbolized the Texas town finally overcoming its ugly past. But instead it's ripped the city apart, right down the color line.