Journalist Oliver Staley is writing good stories in the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, trying to address larger questions along the way. He walked up to me today on the court square and told me that one of my old columns for the Progressive Populist (about Charles Pickering) inspired him to look into the investigative reports in the Sovereignty Files that fed information, including the station wagon's license plate number, to the local law enforcement and the Klan. He had a copy of my column printed out.
I read Oliver's story from yesterday afterward and really appreciated the following passage:
Dennis wonders why it has taken 41 years. He questions why only Killen was indicted, when at least nine of the 21 men arrested in 1964 are still alive. And, like many veterans of the civil rights movement, he hopes that Killen's trial, whatever its outcome, does not close the door on the case or that chapter in history.
"There's a group of us who are not looking at Killen's trial as bringing closure," said Dennis, now director of the Southern Initiative of the Algebra Project, which works with poor children in Jackson.
"Our position is that there cannot be reconciliation until the truth is out on the table.
"Until people in Mississippi and the rest of the country admit to the fact that there was a statewide conspiracy to deny people of their rights, you cannot have reconciliation."
Unless Killen's trial leads to a wider examination of the crimes of the era, including those committed by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, the state-funded spy agency, it will stand for nothing more than the trial of just one old man, said Rita Schwerner-Bender, Mickey Schwerner's widow and a former colleague of Chaney.
"If that's all it is, then it becomes, quoting a famous Mississippian, a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing," she said.