A year ago, on June 21, 2005, at the Neshoba County Courthouse, in Philadelphia, MS, former Klansman Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of manslaughter in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.
According to James E. Prince III, editor and publisher of the Neshoba Democrat, the Killen conviction announced "a new dawn in Mississippi, one in which the chains of cynicism and racism have been broken and we are free, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last!"
A year later, on July 1, 2006, a statue of a Confederate soldier, a monument to racism and slavery, was returned to the Neshoba County Courthouse lawn.
The monument was damaged in a storm in 1990, but the Neshoba County Monument Restoration Committee raised $13,500 necessary to restore the monument, first placed on the courthouse lawn in 1912.
Last year, following the Killen conviction, Stanley Dearman, past editor of the Neshoba Democrat and current member of the Philadelphia Coalition, stated, "There's some sort of cosmic justice working somewhere."
This year, Dearman was listed as one of the members of the Neshoba County Monument Restoration Committee. Did he help raise the $13,500 to restore the Confederate soldier to its place in front of the courthouse where Killen was convicted of manslaughter (but not murder)?
Tomorrow, Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen's attorneys will argue yet again for an appeal bond, based on Killen's deteriorating health. If they are successful, Killen may be able to spend the rest of his days yet again a free man.
Today, in a column in Jackson, Mississippi's Clarion Ledger, Gary Pettus said that if Killen is released it will be "a final victory for Mississippi's dark side."
Yesterday, the Neshoba Democrat, which is based in Philadelphia, MS, published an an article by Debbie Burt Myers, mostly rehearsing the arguments of Killen's defense. The article does not quote anyone stating what would be wrong with releasing Killen. The Neshoba Democrat has not, to my knowledge, published any coluumn or editorial demanding justice regarding tomorrow's appeal by Killen's lawyers.
The Neshoba Democrat is prominently linked at the bottom of the Philadelphia Coalition's website. James E. Prince III, editor and publisher of the Neshoba Democrat, is also co-chair of the Philadelphia Coalition, a multi-racial organization, which states its mission is "to seek the truth, to insure justice for all, and to nurture reconciliation."
Yesterday's edition Neshoba Democrat also included an article by David Sanders putting "in context" Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign speech at the Neshoba County Fair, in which Reagan said,
I believe in states' rights. I believe that we've distorted the balance of our government by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to the federal establishment.
Sanders' idea of context is to quote opinions that "Nothing about Ronald Reagan ever suggested — nothing in his policies, nothing in his background — that race was made an issue." Earl Ofari Hutchinson would beg to differ, as would I.
A year ago, the Philadelphia Coalition declared, "Others responsible for this crime must be brought to justice as well."
A year later, I received an email from the Arkansas Delta Truth and Justice Center, asking:
What happened to the Philadelphia Coalition's commitment to bring others to justice in addition to Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen in the Neshoba murders case of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner?
Did a commitment to the pursuit of a full measure of truth and justice on the part of the Philadelphia Coalition ever exist?
In addition to Edgar Ray Killen, there was sufficient evidence to arrest and/or indict on federal charges related to the murders the following men in the 1960s, all still living:
Jimmy Arledge - presently living, Meridian, MS
Sam Bowers - presently living, Central MS Correctional Facility
Olen Burrage - presently living, Philadelphia, MS
James Thomas "Pete" Harris - presently living, Meridian, MS
Tommy Horne - presently living, Meridian, MS
Billy Wayne Posey - presently living, Meridian, MS
Jimmy Snowden - presently living, Hickory, MS
Jimmy Lee Townsend - presently living, Philadelphia, MS
Richard Willis - presently living, Noxapater, MS