ln light of intractable racist attitudes that are repeatedly expressed in heinous encounters across the nation, Brittney Cooper writes at Salon that America is a long ways away from becoming postracial, despite accomplishments by blacks like President Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
The 50th anniversary of the 16th Street church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., was sandwiched on either side by two stories of race relations that challenge our impulse to celebrate how far we’ve come.
Last week, news broke that two African-American college students at the University of Alabama, located just 50 miles west of Birmingham, were denied entry into several white sororities, at the behest, not of current sorority members who voted for them, but of older alumnae officers of the clubs. Then on Saturday, police in Charlotte, N.C., killed Jonathan Ferrell, a 24-year-old unarmed African-American man.
Ferrell, who apparently had wrecked his pickup truck, ran to the first home for help, only to have the door slammed in his face by an elderly white lady who alerted the police that he was a home invader. When they arrived, he ran toward them, only to have Officer Randall Kerrick, the only officer to draw his weapon, shoot him down like a rabid dog. Kerrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.
This senseless, needless murder of Ferrell harkens back quite directly to the events of Sept. 15, 1963, a day where six black children lost their lives. In addition to the four girls killed at 16th Street, a 16-year-old boy named Johnny Robinson was shot in the back by a Birmingham police officer that day for allegedly throwing rocks at white cars. Perhaps the mark of progress is not that black men and boys are now allowed to live and move freely, but that the state-sanctioned vigilantes who take their lives at least get charged with the crimes.
Read Brittney Cooper’s entire piece at Salon.
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