When I found my second set of FBI documents on Roosevelt Tatum, I saw that they would allow me to fill in some of the narrative of what happened to Roosevelt Tatum after the bombing of A. D. and Naomi King's house. I had intended for my next post in this series to tell some of that story. As I studied the second set of documents and then went back and forth between them and the first set of documents, I began finding more and more of the story of the bombing, dispersed among the details of the two sets of documents.
Chunks of witness testimonies that had been blacked out in the first set of documents, appeared mostly intact in the second set. And, interestingly enough, names that were blacked out in the second set of documents often appear in the first set of documents. Moving back and forth between the two sets of documents allowed me to reconstruct more of what happened on the night of the bombing.
It has been a problem for me, as well as for others who have tried to understand this case, that Tatum's five testimonies and the testimonies of other witnesses all contain many inconsistencies. The inconsistencies became the basis for the FBI to question the veracity of Tatum's claims. I have assumed all along that my father believed Tatum was telling the truth, and held on to the deposition Tatum gave in Emanuel Celler's office for this reason. As I've pieced things together, I have repeatedly asked myself how I might understand the problematic inconsistencies if I start from the assumption that Tatum was, in fact, telling the truth when he said that he witnessed two Birmingham police officers bomb A. D. and Naomi King's house. This assumption, coupled with some analysis of the inconsistencies in Tatum's testimonies, has allowed me to make judgments about what in the conflicting details is true and what is not.
The narrative of what happened to Tatum after the bombing is still in the works, and is crucial for an understanding of his actions and statements. But first I must tell the story of the bombing itself, as I now understand it. So now Part 5 in this series will be my take on what really happened on 12th Street Ensley, Birmingham, Alabama, the night of May 11, 1963.
I hope to post Part 5 within the next few days. In the meantime, I will not make any more predictions about how many more parts there will be in this series or what they will contain. History is too unpredictable.