April 4, 2013 will be the 45th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. It always puzzles me why so many of those who so vocally celebrate Dr. King’s birthday, let the historic day of assassination go by so quietly. I am cynical enough to believe that their quietness is another payment for having President Reagan sign a bill making his birthday a national holiday.
I am using this opportunity not only to remember April 4 as the day when the Civil Rights Movement was, for all practical purposes, shattered. But I am also using this opportunity to remember the 33 Blacks and seven Whites murdered by White supremacist/racist terrorists between May 7, 1955 and April 4, 1968.
They are: George Lee, Lamar Smith, Emmett Till, Mack Charles Parker, Herbert Lee, Medgar Evers, Roman Duckworth, Louis Allen, Paul Gulhard, Rev. Bruce Klunders, Henry Hezekiah Dee, Charles Eddie Moore, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Vernon Dahmer, Ben Chester White, Wharlest Jackson and Benjamin Brown were murdered in Mississippi.
Also, Willie Edmonds, William Louis Moore, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Virgil Lamar Ware, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Rev. James Reeb, Viola Gregg Liuozzo, Willie Wallace Brewster, Jonathan Daniels and Samuel Younge Jr. in Alabama.
Also, Earl Reese in Texas, Lemeul Penn in Georgia, O’Neal Moore and Clarence Tiggs Louisiana, and Samuel Hammond, Jr., Delano Middleton and Henry Smith in South Carolina. Nine of the Blacks slain were between 11 and 19 years of age. All these names are documented on the walls of the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala.
When those Black people who get some big time job or appointment or other recognition begin thanking people for their good fortune, they almost never take the time to thank those listed above and the many others who were brutalized, often by those who were supposed to be enforcing the law, who lost their jobs and saw their homes and places of business firebombed by white supremacist/racist terrorists. Instead of giving thanks to the warriors for equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity, too many of those who benefit from their sacrifices go before mostly White audiences and give the impression that they got their news-making job or appointment because they prayed and worked hard. They often leave the impression that things in this country changed because the Whites voluntarily decided that “We haven’t been doing right to our Black citizens. Now we are going to repent and do the right thing.”
That delusionary position is a bald-faced falsification of history and a supreme insult to those who put their lives on the line in the late 1950s and 1960s. April 4 is an important day in our history and should be a day to remember and pay tribute to Dr. King and the other warriors for daring to confront what can only be described as terrorism in several of the former Confederate states.