Friday, August 6, 2010

Infamy Doesn't Begin To Describe It

Just a few days after an historic court decision in favor of human rights, this country marks two anniversaries of devastation.
On August 6, 1945, a B-20 bomber affectionately named Enola Gay took off from the island of Tinian and headed northwest toward Japan.  The bomber's primary target was the city of Hiroshima which had a civilian popularion of almost three hundred thousand.  A little after 8 that morning the B-20 opened its bay doors and dropped a 9.700 pound uranium bomb over the city.  At least one hundred thousand people died immediately.  The casualty toll continues.
This weekend marks another deadly moment in this country's history.  On August 7, 1930, the last confirmed lynching in the northern United States took place in Marion, Indiana.  A white man was shot.  Even before he died, three African American teenagers were thrown into jail.  When the man died a short time later, a mob of about two thousand people broke down the walls of the jail, brutally beat and then lynched Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith.  With the rope around his neck, James Cameron expected to also die.  For no apparent reason other than he was the third and the youngest in appearance, he was returned to the jail.  He was later tried, convicted of being an accessory to murder and served time in prison.  His sentence was later commuted.  He went on to serve as the Indiana State Director of Civll Liberties and founded three chapters of the NAACP.  He said, "If Indiana can forgive me, I can forgive Indiana."  In 2005 the United States Senate officially apologized to Cameron and the two young men whose bodies were left hanging from tree branches.

Billie Holiday sings the haunting tribute to the the Indiana lynching and to all such acts of inhumanity.  Few gains come without losses.

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