Today we're outraged about terrorism. We should be. Our outrage should not spare the terrorists in white sheets who intimidated, tortured and murdered American citizens right here! We criticize the people in Iraq, North Africa and the Balkans for killing each other over race or religion, often sanctioned by that country's version of the Sovereignty Commission. We feel superior to them while forgetting our own sins.
I grew up during the last dying gasps of Jim Crow. I remember our north Jackson neighborhood awakened by the bombing of a Jewish family home. I remember news reports of Bill Minor's newspaper being repeatedly vandalized and bombed, and imagine today how a laptop computer would have helped in those dark days. I saw black people get off the sidewalk to let me pass unobstructed. I went to private schools where adolescent white boys addressed white men formally, yet addressed grown black men by their first names, and were addressed by even middle age, or older black men, as "siree."
Mississippi should recognize and honor men like Rev. Clyde Briggs ("Fighting Back in Klan Nation," March 22) as the patriots they truly were. Having his body exhumed to determine his true cause of death, is the least we can do for a start. It's easy to chide those who were treated as second-class citizens not to live in the past; easy, at least, for those of us who were not treated that way. Indeed, it is necessary for the good of any injured party, to move somehow beyond the past for reasons that have more to do with self-preservation than mercy for an oppressor. But I'm reminded, when I read articles like your "Klan Nation" piece, that I can't really grasp what it was like to grow up as a second-class citizen in my own country, to be treated as if it were not my own.
Would I not still be angry and hurt? Would I not have to pray to keep my bitterness from boiling over? It reminds me of how Faulkner said: "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." Our past will haunt us until we deal with it.
I hope you will continue to educate readers about our past so we can deal with it and heal with it.
— Ric Cochran, Jackson
Under the Cover
Your article on Dr. Leslie McLemore ("Fifty Years of Unrest," March 1) opened my eyes. I just thought of him as an old grumpy, gray-haired Jackson State professor. I never knew of his accomplishments and the history behind the sometimes quiet man. I guess it is true that you can't judge a book by its cover. I found there was a lot we could learn from him.
Your article also showed me how deficient I was with my own history. Black History Month just passed, and we hailed the usual people: King, Evers, Winfrey, Tubman, Parks, etc. In my own back yard, still living, breathing and oozing with hope is our own Dr. McLemore. I never knew he was a part of the Civil Rights Movement. More credit should be given to him for his great work, sacrifice and courage.
As with so many of the JFP articles in the past, I found this especially mind-stirring. It provoked something within me to do more, learn more and seek more knowledge of my own heritage and those who have paved the way for the freedoms that I enjoy today. Then, I can somehow contribute and make available even more freedoms to all of mankind.
Once again, I applaud you and the work of the JFP staff for such investigative work that brings us the truth (no matter how ugly). You provide useful information not given in other publications. Y'all really inspire me. For this, all I can say is wow. (But I will find a way to go into action for the better of my community and beyond.)
— Gary Proctor, Jackson
Abused But Unbroken
I wrote this letter with an aching pain in my heart. After moving from Washington, D.C., in 1979 I lived in Ridgeland for 10 years but decided I wanted to live in Jackson. Now, I live downtown because I love the city life. I was excited about all the great events that were being planned to revitalize downtown and bring it new life. Remember the "Bold New City"? I volunteer for HeARTS Against AIDS and the ACLU, and I help the Salvation Army during the holidays. I enjoy volunteering because I wanted to give something back to the city I now consider home.
Now, I'm so disillusioned by all the posing and posturing of the Melton administration and the damage it is causing. What the hell does he care? He can go back to Texas anytime he wants—and leave us with this cesspool of bad B-movie gangsterism. I am a registered voter at Precint 05A, located in Fondren. If you could check my voter record, you would find that I voted for Frank Melton. Now, I feel like such a fool. The man I thought I was voting for abused my vote, insulted my intelligence and broke my heart.
However, I am especially proud of everyone at the Jackson Free Press. You guys make it all worthwhile for me to stay and continue to ride this train to its destination. I wish I were in the trenches with you, fighting the good fight. Thanks for being a shining light in an otherwise dark, depressing administration. Enter the Karma Police!
— Anthony J. Harville, Jackson
E-mail letters to the editor to [e-mail missing], fax them to 601-510-9019 or mail them to P.O. Box 2047, Jackson, Miss., 39225. Please include phone number.
What an excellent set of letters!
I know. This is the best set of letters in one issue we've ever had. I didn't see them until I proofed the final page, and I got teary-eyed reading them. Beyond their comments about the JFP, which I loved of course, these three men are the kind of people we need in Jackson. Thoughtful, caring, passionate, intelligent. I salute them all.