Monday, May 04, 2009

History (?) Lessons

So, I want to tell you a story.

Seems a young man of color was in a part of the U.S. where he was unwelcome, perceived as an outsider.

He allegedly engaged in actions deemed transgressive by local "citizens."

So, white men dutifully took it upon themselves to teach him a lesson and ended up beating him to death.

The local citizenry was annoyed by the national attention--felt like people were playing up the racial angle.*

An all-white jury later acquitted the white men of murder charges. The woman closest to him, who felt she knew what the verdicts would be, left the courtroom before they were read.

People gloated that the justice system worked!

You know this story, right?

Only, I'm not talking about him.

I'm talking about him.

Fifty-three years between their deaths, and still these similarities stood out to me.

Dr. King once said something to the effect of the arc of history** is long, but it bends towards justice.

Right now, I'm just stuck on how achingly long it is.

* On local residents' reactions

**I've also heard "moral universe" in the place of history.

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Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...