Learning from tragedy
I was on a business trip to Burmingham 20 years ago. I visited the site of the church of the explosion killing 4 young girls. The attitude of the citizens
was the same.
It may be the same today.
We cannot let our history be white washed, so to speak lest we be destined to repeat it. Four young girls we blown to peices in a most heinous way by white supremacists cowards that thought they were superior they were trash. As a nation we have to do better
Beautiful talk, warmly delivered.
Thank you for acknowledging the heinousness of this act. That the perpetrator was eventually caught is late comfort, but it did not restore the four victims' lives. Any of them might have grown up to bequeath intellectual gifts to this nation, had they lived.
Am I the only citizen of this nation who balks at singing its national anthem, or "It's A Grand, Old Flag," or "America, The Beautiful," or "God Bless America" when its integrity is so severely marred and undermined by such deeds, which cancel out any impulse for national pride or adulation? What other nation bears the weight of some 300-plus of its citizens having been set upon and lynched for having been born as God intended? Some while still dressed in the uniform of our Armed Forces in which they served.
Few of us are aware that photo postcards of lynched blacks were gleefully sent through the U.S. Mail, celebrating the deeds perpetrated by fellow Americans. Nor has that demon been completely expunged from the American psyche. Though few racists go public with their racism (embarrassment, or fear of pushback?) these days, unlike in earlier eras, they still exist, posing as forthright citizens, poisoning the communal wells of tolerance and mutual respect.
After Pearl Harbor, Germany & Italy also declared war on the USA. Why were only people of Japanese descent forced into holding camps, but not people of German or Italian descent? Though everybody knows the answer, nobody has the integrity to admit as much.
Until this nation (automatically meaning the white Americans who decide our communal path forward) corrects such impulses in either direction, we shall not become equal in practice as in theory, and our creed asserting so shall remain an embarrassing sham. Equal means exactly that: Equal. Without exception. Period. Either act accordingly, or quit claiming it.
Thank you for the closure! Thank goodness we got three of them.
So important to learn and understand our past. Unfortunately "Florida" wants to bury these painful truths. I am grateful my "children" are grown and will have to make their own choices about "truth".
It’s good to remember this country’s past as that is how we can learn and provide for a better future for all. All of us we created equal and have dignity.
However what does “forces of white supremacy will never give up their privilege without a fight” mean? I don’t understand what privileges Dan is talking about.
My thoughts parallel those so forcefully iterated below in full support of your straightforward, beautifully expressed sentiments, Dan and Elliott. I’ve proudly forwarded your columns to numerous friends coast to coast, who are signing on also to support you two in your quest to inform and educate an American public hungry for honest, historically accurate reporting!
Joan (“Zip”) Robinson
Thank you, Dan Rather, and thank you, Justice Jackson, for so eloquently pointing out the wisdom, the necessity, and the benefits of staying, dare I say it, "woke."
Surprised at how many times I just write "Amen" to the information in this newsletter. Again today, Amen!
Some 60+ years ago when I was in my teens, I began to wonder how it would feel to be of another race. I had good parents who encouraged me to read about these feelings, but there was almost no access to subjects like that. I spent many years thinking about how any child like these four precious girls felt as they left the safety of their home each day. In this case, they had each other and they were going to church. What could go wrong?! The rage and sorrow I feel about such stories--then and now--cannot begin to compare with the utter sadness and despair of the families who have seen this happen year after year after year. Now, 60 years later, I still do not understand how families can live with such possibilities Every. Day. Of. Their. Lives.
I hope we triumph Justice Jackson! So many good, good humans like you, Dan and Elliot forces me to continue to try and be hopeful. But it is getting harder and harder.
Wonderful speech! Exactly what we need to hear in this time. Especially since I just heard TX GOP lost their spine (or sold it, probably) and let their AG go unpunished. Again. What are TX voters thinking?
JUSTICE REQUIRED COURAGE The four girls who were blown to pieces in the Birmingham bombing September 15, 1963 eventually got their days in court. Witnesses were initially too fearful to testify against the Ku Klux Klan. But time allowed them to develop the resolve to do what was right. Robert Chambliss' niece, Elizabeth Cobbs, testified that he had told her before the bombing that he had dynamite. Afterward, she heard him say that the bomb hadn't been intended to hurt anyone but detonated at the wrong time. Former Klansman Mitchell Burns became a paid FBI informant. He surreptitiously tape-recorded Thomas Blanton in his kitchen. Willadean Brogdon, who was married to Bobby Cherry 1970-73, testified that he told her that he had placed the dynamite under the steps and returned later to light it. He told her that he regretted that children had been killed "but at least they couldn't grow up to make more (n-words)." Chambliss was convicted in 1977. Blanton was convicted in 2001. Cherry was convicted in 2002. Another suspect, Herman Cash, escaped prosecution through death in 1994. ("16th Street Baptist Church bombing," Wikipedia.)
Thank you, Dan and Elliot, for your excellent words (as usual) and for including KBJ's remarks. Shame on our Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, for trying to rewrite black history, so important part of our nation's history. And let us not forget the unfortunate growing trend of anti-semitism on this, the first day of the Jewish New Year.