Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Highway 61 Revisited, Again

Klansman Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of manslaughter today in the 41 year old murders of civil rights workers Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney. Should we be happy that he is finally accountable these murders? Or, should we be ashamed that it took over forty years? One of my favorite professors recounted for us what is was like searching for their bodies. They could only look at night because they were so afraid that they too would be killed. They ventured out in groups and searched rivers, and farms, staying off the main roads. During the day they would hide in barns, or in the woods. Their disappearance eventually sparked enormous national attention, undoubted because two if them were white. This trial just keeps reminding me of where we are today. Where are we today? In my eyes we are ignoring our racial conflicts. We walk away from problems, pretending they aren't there, or we throw our hands up and say that they will never be resolved. We are apathetic. I used to think that I would be one of the young people signing up for the Mississippi Summer Project had it been in my time. But would I? Would I be afraid to be accountable for what I believe in? What I am doing today? In the city and state that I love the most, a youth football league is dissolving because white kids in the suburbs, and black kids in the city, and all of their parents, don't want to play each other. Instead of using their situation to create a dialogue about their differences, and teaching their kids that racism of any kind is not acceptable, parents are taking the easy way out and just leaving the league. What would I do if they were my kids? Would I be the one to stop and say that this is not right?

So, Edgar Ray Killen, an eighty year old man is in jail. He should be. He should have been for a long time. But where are we?

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