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February 14, 2015

"That scar on the map of America"

That scar is the State of Mississippi, according to Anthony Walton in his book, Mississippi: An American Journey. In 2011 three white men lynched a black man in Jackson, Mississippi. Before sentencing, U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves delivered a lengthy speech on the history of lynchings in Mississippi. The speech included some surprising statistics.

"[o]f the 40 martyrs whose names are inscribed in the national Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, AL, 19 were killed in Mississippi"

One historian estimated that between 1882 and 1968 4,742 blacks were killed in lynchings in the U.S. That number exceeds the 1,401 prisoners who have been executed legally since 1976. It's more than the estimate 1,700 who died on 9/11/2001. It's greater than the number "killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and more than twice the number of American casualties in Operation Enduring Freedom — the Afghanistan conflict."

The sadness of this day also has an element of irony to it: Each defendant was escorted into court by agents of an African-American United States Marshal, having been prosecuted by a team of lawyers which includes an African-American AUSA from an office headed by an African-American U.S. attorney — all under the direction of an African-American attorney general, for sentencing before a judge who is African-American, whose final act will be to turn over the care and custody of these individuals to the BOP [Federal Bureau of Prisons] — an agency headed by an African-American.

It's probably not entirely coincidental that Judge Reeves was the one who declared Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. If you are trying to figure out what that shield on each man's shirt is for, they say "West Pulaski Fire Dept."

Filed under Gay Issues,History | permalink | February 14, 2015 at 05:35 PM

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