This letter appeared in The Franklin Advocate, the weekly newspaper in Meadville, Miss, the week after Thomas Moore's story appeared in the Jackson Free Press. It is reprinted verbatim; below it you can read Thomas Moore's letter to the editor in response, which the Franklin Advocate has never printed.
The Franklin Advocate has weighed the issues and decided not to "re-visit" the 1960s racial incidents which took place in this county and Southwest Mississippi.
The editor sees no new evidence—no reason—to put a new generation through painful memories.
In less than two weeks Franklin County children will be in school—preparing for the future while making new friends. How precious those friendships will grow as time passes.
Halfway around the world our young people are dying because their young people were not allowed to forgive and forget.
Let that not be the legacy we leave our children.
— Mary Lou Webb
Thomas Moore's response, which Ms. Webb did not print:
Dear Mary Lou Webb,
As the brother of Charles Eddie Moore, a friend of Henry Hezekiah Dee, and a leader of the Dee Moore Coalition for Justice in Franklin County I must respond to your editorial dated Thursday, July 28, 2005.
My efforts over the past years to spark renewed interest into the brutal murders of my brother Charles Eddie Moore and my friend Henry Hezekiah Dee have never been so deftly rewarded as in m y most recent trip to Franklin County this past July. From the teachings about the murders I was able to pass on to residents of Franklin County, to the creation of a broad-based Coalition to push for justice, to U.S. attorney Dunn Lampton's historic announcement to create a joint investigation into the case, never in my life have I found such success. Not even in the over 30 years that I served this country in the U.S. Army where I retired an E9, Company Sergeant Major after serving two years in Vietnam, and in Korea and Panama, was I able to derive such satisfaction as I have from seeing this important case brought back into the spotlight in Mississippi. I was particularly pleased to see that the case even found its way to your newspaper. Your acknowledgement that the case exists is surely a landmark in Franklin Advocate history. As you must know, the first step toward reconciliation is acknowledgment.
Your desire and efforts to censor our angry bloody past, remove it from history, misinform and misguide our children, will only fan the small flames of justice I have helped to rekindle throughout Franklin County this summer. "You see no new evidence because your eyes are closed. Listen to the people of Franklin County, and you will not only see new evidence, you will hear it, smell it and breath it in. The palpable fear I found in the people of Franklin County, black and white, is all the evidence needed. You know that justice must be done to begin the process of removing this fear.
Think of a Franklin County where everyone can live without fear. A place where the government and private companies can invest, where tourists will want to go to learn about their past, to see where the historic reconciliations took place. Look at Neshoba, our sister county, and see how people got together to call for justice their much more publicized case. Their work, the work of whites, blacks and Choctaw, has begun to mend not only the spirits and morals of a deeply hurting community but the pocketbooks of the business community as well. Ask Mr. Fent Deweese and Mr. Leroy Clemons, members of the Philadelphia Coalition. They are members of our Franklin County Coalition as well.
The soldiers in Iraq are taking part in what President Bush calls a war on terror. Well, I say we have terrorists still living right here in Franklin County. What is the difference between someone who blows themselves up to kill their enemy and someone who chains two souls to a jeep motor and throws them into the Mississippi River after torturing them and whipping them in the Homochitto National Forest? These same people terrorized the black and white communities through coordinated efforts of cross burnings, propaganda and whisper campaigns, beatings, murders and explosions. The Klan and its supporters were and are as fundamentalist in their beliefs and actions as the suicide bombers we've seen in Iraq. Mary Lou, there is no difference.
The soldiers who fight in the name of the United States of America must also be fighting for that document in which is inscribed the basis for our day-to-day existence. I was.
Whether I was in Vietnam in 1965 or Franklin County in 2005, I was fighting to rekindle the spirit of the self-evident truths inscribed in our Declaration of Independence: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Mary Lou, I have the right to come to Franklin County, my home, and demand justice 41 years later for the brutal murders of my brother Charles Moore and my friend Henry Dee. I also have the right to ask the rest of Franklin County, blacks and whites alike, to join me in my quest for justice.
I am proud to say that the current mayor of Meadville, Mr. Sonny Dickie, graciously and courageously threw his full support behind me and my campaign for justice. Mr. Dickie leads the way for Meadville, and others will follow him. I applaud the man.
At the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala., there is inscribed: May 2, 1964 Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore killed by Klan Meadville, Mississippi. Nearby on a wall of shimmering water are the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "… until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Indeed, Franklin County. Yes, indeed.
Thomas J. Moore
Brother of Charles Eddie Moore
Friend of Henry Hezekiah Dee
Read the JFP's full package of stories about the Klan and their victims in and around Natchez and Meadville, Miss., in the 1960s:
I Want Justice, Too: Thomas Moore's Story, July 21, 2005
A Dream Deferred, July 27, 2005
Franklin Advocate Editorial and Thomas Moore Response, July 28, 2005
Evolution of a Man: Lifting the Hood in South Mississippi, Oct. 26, 2005
Daddy, Get Up: This Son of Natchez Wants Justice, Too, Oct. 26, 2005
Dear Meadville: Thomas Moore Tries to Wake Up His Hometown, Oct. 26, 2005
Editor's Note: Damned If We Don't, Oct. 26, 2005
Also see: JFP Blog: Mississippi v. Edgar Ray Killen, June 2005
- The other night I watched "Mississippi Cold Case" files and my heart just poured with tears with every inch Thomas Moore has taken to bring this awful tragedy to life again in honor of his beloved brother Charles Eddie and his friend Henry Dee. I could feel the fear as Thomas approached Edwards and Seale and could feel his relief when he was able to approach them.
I grew up in a little town in New Jersey (born 1947) and I was so unaware as where others what was happening during this time in Mississippi. The only thing about learning Mississippi back then was how to spell it in school. We just plain didn't know much of what others were going through during this time. The world back then was focused on Viet Nam and not what was happening to people here in the USA.
Thomas, I am just so proud of your determination in pursuing justice and so thankful that this little voice told me to watch this documentary.
As I watched you in the documentary, I saw a very tall, proud man which reminded me of a movie, just can't think of the name at the moment and also a song "Town Without Pity".
Thank you so much for stepping out of your comfort zone, fighting the battles within you for all these years and confronting those who did what they did to your brother and his friend.
Peace be with you!
- So proud!
- No doubt, Patty. Thomas Moore is an inspiration to us all. I am very proud to have worked alongside him for those months in 2005.