Presenting: White Lies


Each listener supported W NYC Studios Hegang. It's Guy I hope you are all self isolating with care and with love and finding ways to stay plugged into your communities as I said before. We're turning our attention to the Kovic one thousand nine outbreak on the show and I'll have more on that in our next episode coming Thursday as usual but for now I wanNA share something totally unrelated in case you need a break from thinking about the corona virus as you know the United States Ming's. Id is all about the unfinished business of American history and its grip on our future our friends at NPR share that interest they produce a podcast called white lies and today. I'm going to share the first episode of that series with you. A nine hundred sixty five. Reverend James Reid was murdered in Selma Alabama. Three men were tried and acquitted but no one was ever held to account fifty years later to journalists from Alabama returned to the town where it happened exposed the lies that kept the murder from being solved and uncover a story about guilt and memory. That says as much about America today as it does about the past host Andrew Back Grace and chip Brantley. Take it from here. Three men eat dinner and a crowded restaurant in an unfamiliar city. When they're done eating to of them take turns using the payphone to make long distance phone calls to their families. One walks outside to smoke a cigar years later he'd recall how quiet it was the sound of the streetlamps coming on the phone calls are made they all stand in front of the restaurant and the approaching darkness. They don't know this place they don't know the street we've got a meeting to get back to. What's the best way back to where they've come from? Should they turn left or right? This is nineteen sixty five. These men are strangers here northern men and a segregated southern city. Whiteman standing in front of a black restaurant three men and a decision to make there would have been no way for them to know that what will happen next will change everything that it will lead to the murder of one of these men and radically altered allies of the other two that this moment will ripple down through the generations in ways seeing an unseen affecting the children and the grandchildren of all the men who converged on the street that night and it ripples far pass those families in this town news of the murder will spread leading to outrage and protests around the nation even the president will get involved invoking the murder in a nationally televised speech to announce one of the most significant bills of the twentieth century. But for everything that would happen after the decision to turn left or right. The murder has remained unsolved. No one has ever been held to account nine bag. Situation has created a lot of hate and the white community had been men who resented his coming to join. Negro civil rights demonstrations. I remember the sound of that club hitting James. I don't remember I don't remember Pale and you get bad stuff. You leave it alone. I didn't discuss it with nobody honey. After it happened I kept my mouth should die a lot of things. They knew back in those days. Come back to haunt him. Limitation Murder never runs out like a tree branches. If you cut on one breast domain to down three going down it just gonNA grow another brand. We need the Fan. The root of this From NPR this is white lies show in which we search for the root of all this. I'm Andrew Beck race and I'm Bradley. We're going to tell you about what happened on the street that night. And what came after about how ally took root working steadily over the years to overshadow the truth? And it's about what happened when we came back to the same city. Some fifty years later to call ally the lie to untangle the history and finally solve this murder. Our story takes place in Selma Alabama. A city built on a bluff above the Alabama river. Some is an old city was founded in eighteen. Twenty played an important role in the civil war. But Selma today is best known for what happened during the civil rights movement in the nineteen sixties and this black and white images from the civil rights movement. That's pretty much how we thought about some to any narberth from Alabama our ancestors were here before Alabama was a state and our family trees are populated by slave owners confederates segregationists but those people. Those times to us they felt far away from the Alabama. We grew up in which was generation removed from the nineteen sixties and we were growing up in the suburbs are Alabama that is to say White Alabama was wrestling with its story of the civil rights era trying to figure out how to talk about it and the strategy for the most part was not to talk about it. Because we didn't have to talk about it. What's past is past water under the bridge but come on. White southerners are not a people. Habitually opposed to talking about the past. In fact the opposite is true confederate Memorial Day commemorating soldiers killed in a war that ended over one hundred and fifty years ago is still a state. Holiday here and state government shuts down in remembrance. Nearly every county seat in Alabama has an enormous confederate monument right in the courthouse square and the state legislature passed a law in twenty seventeen the protected those monuments from being removed. So this hesitancy among white folks to talk about what happened here in the nineteen sixties. It's not as simple resistance to the past. It's a resistance to a certain kind of story about the past. Among the stories many white Alabamians don't like to talk about is what happened in Selma on Sunday. March seventh nineteen sixty five a spectacle of public violence it would become synonymous with the city and the man who be murdered here. It was images of this violence that brought him to Selma in the first place. This is some footage from that Sunday. It begins with a wide shot of a group of black people milling about in front of a church. Some of them have bags on their shoulders. Small suitcases rolling up sleeping bags soon. The people form a long line down the sidewalk. There's a cut to a medium shot of two men. John Lewis Williams standing before a reporter. Marching today to dramatize to the nation dramatize to the world but hundreds and thousands of Nikko citizens of Alabama of the night the right to vote. We intend to march to Montgomery to since then grievous to govern Rusty Wallace. What are you GonNa do if you get stuck or we're going to do to get stop. All get stopped. We get stopped to go stand in Chattanooga sheet in Tokyo into letting us go ahead then a shot of Lewis Williams leading a long line of marchers walking two by two down the sidewalk and through the city. Then there's a wider shot. Is the marchers. Cross a steel bridge over a river and you can see written right there. On the arch Edmund Pettus bridge as they reach the top we see with the Marcher. See at the other. End of the Bridge Align White State troopers in dark uniforms. They're wearing helmets. They HOLD BILLY CLUBS. They hitch their belts. We see the marchers getting closer before a cut to a wide shot of some police officers on horses. And then it's Hydra shot at the troopers. Many of them have put on gas masks. And if you've seen anything from this day this is the big you've probably seen Martha this first your audit to disperse go home or go to your church. This march will not the marchers have come to a stop at the foot of the bridge? That clear to you who got nothing. Further to say to. The two men in front of their hands still stuck deep in their pockets. The hymns of their coats flap in the wind. But they don't move. They don't say anything back here. Advance voting group that they turn around and dispersed and then the line state troopers begins to advance slowly at first holding their billy clubs in front of them and as they reached the marchers the trooper speed up start shoving and then swinging the clothes. You can see marchers forced to the ground others running back up the bridge and then clouds of smoke teargas happens very quickly and you see the troopers blocked by a line of police. Cars obscured by a thick haze beating people on the ground. And this is the part. That's most memorable most disturbing the troopers forcing the camera and to stay back. So there's a telephoto shot zoomed in as far as it'll go the image gets pretty grainy but what you see through the fog of tear gas or clubs coming up in the air and swinging down over and over. Yeah Delaney's okay. Well Oh this is real this real when this. It's a mild winter day and we're driving through some with the woman we've come to know in recent years. Her name is Joanne Bland. Where did you grow homes well in the products but it's also undeterred? Grew up in the Turks in nature and Brown the Church Jones talking about is Brown Chapel. Ame today it's the most famous building in Selma because it was the nerve center for the Civil Rights Movement. Here it's actually in that. Nineteen sixty five footage. That's the place where all the marchers gathered before setting out across the bridge. Imbetween the church and the Bridge Joanne. Who still writes tours out of towners points out of five story building with windows on the upper floors broken or boarded up and on the corner. Tempus used to be a department store and I remember going in there we to go onto basement. We couldn't go in that. They had a basement for the African American and years later WanNa L. Council women and I WANNA radio show together and it was around. Christmas is she said Joanne. You remember the Christmas wonderland and I was like no no. This is on the top floor tempus every year. It was the best time of the year because we would all go upstairs. And every this wonderful winter wonderland and sound like also be. We waited all year for that. I had to remain. I was African American. Okay that no. We never saw the winter wonderland that was only for. Like here's What are the places? Join takes groups to the live oaks material on the west side of town. It's a total southern Cliche with a sunken tombstones on the massive live oak stripping Spanish Moss and one in their dozens and dozens of tiny confederate flags marking the graves of confederate soldiers. This part of the cemetery is called confederate memorial circle and it includes a huge monument to the soldiers of Dallas County who fought in the civil war on one side it reads there's grandeur in Graves is glory and gloom this memorial. It's typical for the south. And if you squint just right which so. Many white southerners have done for so long. It makes a certain kind sense why it's here. Something like thirty thousand. Alabamians died fighting. The civil war in this monument erected just thirteen years after the end of the war was part of the initial wave of monuments in the south and the north the tried to make some sense out of the war out of all the violence and all the death but then on the other side of the circle. There's a different confederate monument. And no matter how hard you squint. There's only one way to read this one it's a bust of Nathan Bedford. Forrest a thumbnail. Sketch of forest would hit the highlights born poor. He makes a fortune as a slave trader becomes a legendary confederate general accused of ordering the slaughter of surrendering African American soldiers at Fort Pillow. And after the South's defeat he becomes one of the earliest leaders of the newly formed Ku Klux Klan. When did they dedicate the forest thousands? When we elected our first African American mayor the senior thing media. I mean within weeks of taking off I mean I. I'm sorry. Ask An obvious question but it is. It is just completely related that that they did that at the same time they elected. I mean is it. Is it basically just the response? Now you know you've already answered that question in your mind but when I look at Nathan Mouse Die Movement. It says you may have a Negro mayor but we are still here of course look at the time. And why would you put the founder Glenn in a town? It had Jesse elected African American. If you're not trying to send emits. Joanne says that forrest was the founder of the clan. Which is what a lot of people believe but to get technical about it. He was not the founder instead he became the first grand wizard the clan so to get technical about it in the year. Two Thousand White Salman's erected a monument to a man who guided the Ku Klux Klan to its first national campaign racial violence Spending time in Selma is like this and nearly constant technical and often bitter relocation at the minutia of the past. Here in Selma there are two distinct realms passed the civil war and the civil rights movement in fact the city slogan was from civil war to civil rights in recent years. They've added hand beyond but to be honest and Selma. It's hard to get beyond these two histories. They operate like two magnets with the same polarity. No matter how hard you might foursome together. They will always repel each other. They will never find a way to meet. Someone was an important city for the confederacy. The largest munitions factory outside of Richmond. It was a late stronghold that fell toward the end of the war and in the story of it's all there was always nostalgia and bravery like the monument said there is grandeur in graves but all that has been eclipsed by what happened on the bridge on March seventh nineteen sixty five. The event there was soon be called bloody Sunday after the footage of the police beating protesters got beamed around the world. And now that's what most of the people who come here looking for and that's why so. Many people seek out Joanne. She was only eleven in nineteen sixty five but she was there on the bridge that day with her older sister. She was just over the crest of the bridge in about the middle of the line of marchers when the state troopers began beating those in front setting off tear gas before we turn run. It was too late. They came in from both sides front and the back and they would just beating people. I remember the most screens people were just screaming at. Probyn was to screaming screaming people everywhere bleeding not move. I thought they were dead to. Burns is still. You're blind and then you can't breathe you. Panic entourage run right back to the same people and it seemed like it lasted forever if you could put you couldn't outrun the ones horses. They were running horses into the crowd. People who are being trampled the last thing. I remember though on that breeze that seeing this horse and this lady and I don't know what happened. Did he hit her? As you feel that the horses run over the sound ahead made when it hit that pavement. The cameraman on the bridge rush to develop their footage and send it onto their producers in New York within hours. The violence and Selma is the lead story on every network. One of the people watching the news that night is a man named James rebe whom everyone calls Jim. He's a white UNITARIAN minister. He's living in Boston. He's working on low income housing issues and he's watching the footage that night with his wife. Marie they're both outraged. Jim feel sick. Feels like he has to do something. The next day. Martin Luther King since telegrams to major denominations throughout the country calling on clergy of conscience to descend on Somma and lend their support to the cause of the marchers. Jim rebe doesn't need much. Prodding knows he has to go his wife. Marie doesn't want him to go. They've got four young children. She watched the footage from Sauna. With the brutality of the troopers think of what could happen but she also knows the man. She married knows that when he's made his mind up. There's no dissuading him so after. Jim Reads a bedtime story to his daughters. Marie drives them to Logan Airport. Jim Arise in Selma in time to take part in a short march. This time led by Dr King. That evening Jim along with two other White Unitarians Clark Olsen and Orlov Miller Walk to a nearby restaurant. Sam Cook a change is GonNa com which had become an anthem for. The movement is playing over and over on the jukebox chance and just by the river. The restaurant was Very low as it is as I understand that one of the two integrated restaurants in town and So that particular one was quite crowded and this was about five thirty. I'm here by that time. It probably was five thirty when we got to the restaurant. That's Clark Olson. One of the ministers with Jim Interview just a few days after the attack. So the three ministers are there in Selma the enjoy the meal in Washington Street. The conversation and then it's time to leave years later. This is how the other minister with them that night or Lav Miller remembered the scene after we had eaten There was a phone booth inside the restaurant. And so I called my wife and then Clark and Jim both called their wives to from the same phone and I went outside the restaurant while they were making their calls. I remember I bought a cigar. I still smoked in those days and I stood outside the restaurant smoking my cigar as the streetlights were just about coming. There were just beginning to come on. They were these sodium vapor lights and I thought to myself what a peaceful scene this is. It was dusk and there was nobody on the streets and I thought this could be any midwestern community like I grew up in Ohio after Jim has finished as long distance. Call He Clark meet Orlov out front. And here's that moment on the street. The three ministers wondering whether to turn left or right when everything is just about to change. That's after this Civil rights workers in from out of town wouldn't be welcomed in some white owned restaurants but there to black owned cafes on Washington street the list in clay named after the legendary heavyweight fight between Sonny Liston and cashes clay and another spot called. Walker's cafe which everyone calls Eddie's place and that's where they end up they've come to the restaurant by walking somewhat circuitous route closer to the river a route that avoided a sketchy bar at the other. End of the block called the silver moon cafe. But again these three ministers Clarkson or off Miller Jim rebe. They don't know Selma they don't know about the Silverman cafe and it seems faster to turn right. And so that's what they do. We're speaking with reverence to Clark B Olson our guest on this special public affairs presentation. Atv We now return and store. It may be a bitter memories of for you. We would like to have you give us an account of what happened Mr Olsson when you left that restaurant and sell them out. Approximately seven o'clock this past Tuesday night. It was probably a little closer seven thirty. Said it was dark at that time a Clark also and again I haven't yet heard the name of the street is we we turn to the right coming out of the restaurant and Went down toward the intersection About thirty to fifty feet from the intersection We saw a group of for five man Miller and as we started walking from across the street there appeared four five white men and they yelled at us. Hey you niggers and we did not look across at them but we just sort of quickened pace. We didn't run but Continued walking in the same direction as these men rush across Washington street toward them. Clark or eleven. Jim Mumbled to each other not to make contact to just keep walking. Clark is the furthest ahead and as he passed by the Silver Moon Cafe. He glances back. Sees it kind of caught up with them quite minute? I may say They came across the street. And then what happened? Well Jim Ryan was on the sidewalk. nearest street. Jim was slightly behind as we were walking. And I did not look around as I remember it. I did look around in time to see one man with some kind of a stick or pipe or club Swing this the stick violently at Jim Swung mistake ended. Hit Jim on the side of the head. Jim Immediately fell to the pavement on his back. The men then stand over Jim kicking and swinging. The club Clark runs but is caught from behind and punched in the chest and face glasses. Skittering into the street or la falls to the pavement next. Jim Bali himself up for protection as the attackers start kicking and punching him too. And then suddenly it's over in the man with the club are gone just gone. Jim couldn't stand by himself. We we lifted him up and he was incoherent at first and he was babbling and we couldn't understand what he was saying Gradually became more coherent. Tend to end. He complained to the pain. And that's all we could talk about great pain. We're often Clark Support Jim. They stumble a couple of blocks to the Boynton Insurance Agency headquarters for one of the civil rights organizations. The ministers have been told to go there if they're only problems and when they get them. They're a young civil rights worker. Diane Devil is the first to see him. They told me that they had been attacked by several white men. One of them had been hit with some type of club and he was the one who was the most seriously injured. In that was Reverend James Reed. He was saying that he would be all right and the his two trends and I were really adamant that you've got to get medical attention like everything else in some of the city's medical facilities were largely segregated and because the three ministers are there in support of black voting rights. They would not have been welcome at the city's white hospitals so jim is rushed to a nearby medical clinic where one of the city's two black doctors examined him and takes an x ray head. Jim Goes unconscious and the doctor decides right away. That has to be seen by neurosurgeon. The closest one is at university hospital in Birmingham. Nearly two hours away at this point only an hour has passed since the attack in already from the pulpit of Brown Ame Martin. Luther King gives an update to the crowd. There things happen here today concerning the three UNITARIAN ministers who Beaten about an hour or so ago understand. One was So brutally beaten that he had to be rushed to the hospital in Birmingham reponsible. Brain Concussion As king addresses the crowd a news alert hits the wires and soon it's on TV. Civil RIGHTS WORKERS ATTACKED IN. Selma the word about Jim makes it out of Selma before he does. Heidi Miller died in two thousand fifteen but we found Clark Olsen living in Asheville North Carolina pelted by several. Oh tonight we ask Clark why he decided to go to Selma in nineteen sixty five and how that choice. It affected his life but soon we were there and the story of the night itself Clark or Lafon. Jim Walking shoulder to shoulder along the wide sidewalk. Jim on the outside edge closest to the street it just as we were walking in there we saw three or four men. I was quite sure at the time there were four men who came as across the street at us and then the men were upon them. I remember the sound of that club. Hitting gyms hit and I remember him crying out when it hit him at the medical clinic and Salma Clark Sat with John. I was holding. Jim's hand as the pain got worse and worse for him. Jim Squeezed tighter and tighter and then suddenly his hand went limp as he lost consciousness so I was the last person literally in touch with him before he went unconscious. Remember Jimmy Dec- see a neurosurgeon and the closest one was in Birmingham so they drove north of downtown. Some the three white ministers in the back of the ambulance and three black men up front. The driver an attendant and the doctor then a couple of miles outside of the city limits. The ambulance had a flat. The driver pulled over and try to radio for help but he couldn't get through as the driver and the doctor discuss what to do. There was silence in the back Clark and Orlov looking at each other at Jim on the stretcher and then car full of white men pulled up on. Iway behind US stopped right behind the ambulance and I remember. I'm not sure how much I discussed this with earl off but what went through my head was. Oh my gosh this might be a conspiracy here. I remember a rush of feeling. Clark you just have to get out of here. Just run does get Outta here as he thought about running something else rushed into his mind. The news flashes from the summer before in Mississippi. When three civil rights workers had gone missing and then six weeks later the discovery of their murdered bodies in the mud very deep in a nursing dam and I thought my body might be in a ditch tonight so I was terrified. I really was. I was just terrified. The driver in Dr decided to head back toward Selma on the rim of the wheel to a nearby radio station where they could call another ambulance. The car that had been trailing them turned and followed them to the station. It was a green Nash. Metropolitan Clark remembered it as being full of men but in fact there was just one person in the car a white man named John South would south will later. Say about what he saw and didn't see that night. Outside the radio station that will have serious consequences for the story. And we'll get to all that later but Clark in the moment there in the back of the ambulance he watched is the Green Nash Metropolitan turned to follow them. He and Orlov sat there in silence for what seemed like forever is. Their driver ran inside the radio station to call for another ambulance as they all waited. Clark Watch through the windows. Several other white men arrived and circled the ambulance peering inside talking with the driver suddenly dawned on me that often I R- are going to have to get out of the car and shift gyms Gurney over to the ambulance. The second second ambulance and these guys are walking around. And what were they going to do to us? I didn't know when we got oude and I started to work to take. Jim's body over one of them came up to me and said in a very unfriendly tone something something as simple as hey. What's happening here and all I could bring myself to say was pleased. Don't that's all I said. Please don't and in fact they did nothing. In fact we were safe in fact. We've moved Jim's body or gyms unconscious body over to the second ambulance in Boston. Jim Reeves Wife. Marie heard the phone ring and rushed to pick up the receiver before it will therefore kids. She just taught gym a couple of hours before when he called from the payphone of the restaurant Selma Banal. It was minister hoping to catch Marie before. She turned on the eleven o'clock news. He told her the gym had been involved in an incident and Salma and that he was now an ambulance headed to Birmingham. The minister was careful to be vague. About what exactly happened. Told her that she should began making arrangements to get Alabama doctor. Allen dynamic was one of the surgeons on call at Birmingham University Hospital that night democ been hired in July of nineteen sixty three just a couple of months before members of the Ku Klux Klan on the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church once they morning killing four girls and injuring dozens of others de to the hospital and it fell on him to pronounce four little girls dead and now the night of March ninth nineteen sixty five. Dick was home when he got a call about head injury and route from Selma this man. The Reverend had been had just had a meal at a restaurant had just walked out and was attacked by a mob and got hit over the head so I knew he had a hate injury. And that's the reason I wanted to make sure neurosurgeon was available to take care of him when I got there to the emergency department. I was amazed at the mass of people that were there. Not just not just the press but everybody who was interested. The ambulance finally pulled into the emergency room entrance around eleven pm. Domecq remember seeing the ER doors swing open. The stretcher with Jen Roldan. I remember vividly. We brought the patient into the one of the cubicles there and I was standing over the of the patient He wasn't breathing. Also we had to do what we call a tracheotomy and looked up and there was a television camera grinding away. The nurse couldn't walk across the room to get a suture or gate addressing or anything because so many people in the room so it was a mess. It was chaos and there as you can. Well imagine by the time. Reread arrived down Wednesday. Jim was on life support. The hospital was keeping the press away from the family but only on the promise that they could interview marine she desperately did not want to be interviewed but those around her had told her that she had an obligation that this tragedy was not just a personal one but that the whole world was watching and waiting for word from her so just twenty four hours after her husband had been attacked. Marie walked into the hospital. Director's Office TV. Cameramen reporters photographers. They're were crowded into the cramped space. Marie sat behind the hospital. Director's desk her hands. Were class in front of her and she looked down at them or at the microphone throughout most of the was the decision. For your husband to come here. A mutual decision. Did you sit down together discuss it? Just he came home about six of the evening. I was preparing supper. He asked to come upstairs to discuss a matter. He said that he wanted to go to Selma and what I thought about it and I said that I would prefer that. He didn't go but I knew how he felt and I knew that he felt that he had to go. Did you have any communication with your husband? Prior to the time he was attacked. Yes he called about eight to say that Everything was fine and that he would be home the next day. Do you think the cause which your husband came to Selma was worth it. I don't feel that I can answer that for myself. I can only answer for jam that Any consequences that might occur. Did there this one of the last questions about their four children? What are they even told? Marie answered I told the children this morning as soon as they woke up that their father had been hurt. The youngest ones did not fully understand but the thirteen year old was quite upset. Howell Raines Birmingham native. Who would later go on to be? Executive EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK. Times was a cub reporter for the Birmingham Post Herald in nineteen sixty. Five rain was in the hospital for two days and I was dispatched there and obviously cupboard Mrs Ribs press conference but then as a young reporter. I remember thinking this is important. This is a nationally important of it. This is not just some guy getting beaten. The world is indeed watching the scale of this news. We were covering was large. An imported three white men were arrested today. In Selma Alabama on charges of assault with intent to murder three white ministers on a downtown street corner in Selma Alabama night after the violence and the bridge. Sunday the eyes of the nation were already on Summa the FBI lawyers for the Department of Justice. They were all there on the ground and protests about bloody Sunday now about the attack on rebe. We're putting intense pressure. On President Lyndon Johnson Event. Some Selma had been brought to a climax by nighttime attack on White Boston Minister by white men and throughout the nation even in Canada there were marches through the streets of towns and cities. In New York's Harlem more than fifteen thousand half of them white vinyl somberly through the streets in client agonize protests and civil rights. Protesters had even occupied part of the White House. Itself and many Americans were calling on Johnson to send troops into Selma so everyone in the White House was on edge the president and his wife. Lady Bird Senator Bouquet of yellow roses Marie at the hospital in Birmingham. The Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach called the president the day after the attack to brief him on. Reid's condition. Lbj recorded it. As he did with almost all his calls risk. Managers got a DI. Did what you thank you that they tell me that he could fail a another twenty four thirty six hours of these mechanical things. I think you've probably die early. I've arranged With the local authorities down there that When the minister died they'll file first degree murder charges then in the next morning the doctors huddled with the read family ventilators keeping him alive but there was no hope of recovery. There's Day late afternoon. Marie went to his bedside one. Final time it's six fifty five for the third time in forty-eight hours gyms heart stopped this time he was not revived soon. After the phone ring it was the president and the first lady calling to offer condolences to Marie. The president told Marie that he would send a government plane to take her back to Boston. Lady Bird later recorded her memories in her audio diary news income that the Reverend rebe had died. Linden I excuse essay. I was for a moment by helpless painful moment. We talked to Mrs read. What what is that? Say We went upstairs a little past ten within here. The congressional gas. They're laughing in the music. Still going below and out in front but chanting approval rights marches. What a house. What Life Joanne. Bland gives her civil rights tours of Salma. She guides visitors through a small city of eighteen. Thousand people some as the fastest shrinking city in the state and almost forty percent of the residents here live below the poverty line whenever we drive around town Joanne. We passed by empty lots with overgrown weeds and trash homes. They're falling in on themselves but where people are clearly still living when you drive people around who are not from Alabama. Never been to Selma before. Do people comment on? Just how many abandoned businesses there are and how many of you SORTA broken down building I mean. Do you usually talk about it within. Like what do you say to them until them? We had massive white flight several times. So when you take the money out of a place where you expect. The system goes to the occasional system. Goes down everything goes down so no jobs are hard to get any company to come here because they look back at that strife and never ever recovered it. Always 'cause then we're so small was nobody to blight In Large cities you they'll just kill off a section. Yeah near never take you over. If you're visited but sell everything they need to see is where the plight is. I'm getting hot. Let's go. Joanne has brought us to one more. Stop Brown Chapel. Ame The nerve center of the movement and Selma and what Joann wants to show us. Is this giant. Granite Marker out in front commemorates the voting rights campaign up top is a bust of Martin Luther King Junior below that the name of Jim rebe and two other people killed during the Selma campaign and the first months of nineteen sixty five. So tell me about. I mean instances radio. Tell me about the names because we talked about that. Talk about Three of the deaths that were directly related to the cell struggle. Reverend James rebe. Unitarian MINISTER FROM BOSTON RALLIED. Grid Zo Detroit. Housewife and Jimmy Lee Jackson young man. Who was shot in Marion by state trooper? Well let's go up a little higher. You see they say they gave their lives. DidN'T GIVE ANYTHING. They were murdered by hateful racist. People quit saying they were murdered. Their lives were taken not given. They were taken Jim Reeves death. It can't be separated from these other. Murders Jimmy Lee Jackson a local black activist and Deacon in the Baptist. Church was killed. I shot in mid February thirty miles away in the town of Marian and it's important to say his death is the initial catalyst for the march. That would become bloody Sunday so Jim roope would never have been in Selma with Jackson's murder in two thousand ten forty five years later the white state trooper who pulled the trigger admitted to shooting Jackson. He's been only five months in jail. Viola Yuzo a white woman was killed after January. In late March. She had come south to help with voting rights move and while driving between Selma Montgomery. She was overtaken by a carful of Klansmen. Who Shot into her car killed? Her two of the men spent ten years in prison. Another man died before sentencing and another man in a car because it was an FBI informant lived the rest of his life in the witness protection program but all of these deaths associated with the voting rights struggle in Selma Only Jim. Reeves remains officially unsolved. Three men were arrested and charged with his murder but at a trial in December of nineteen sixty five. It took a jury only ninety seven minutes to find the defendants not guilty. The FBI reopened the case in two thousand eight but they too eventually abandoned saying quote. The matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed in quote to this day. No one has ever been held accountable for the murder of Jim. Read why it would seem as though his been solved quickly and all of it would have come to life because he was a white man hot. Well how did that come about that? We can solve Jimmy's but we can't saw read hot. These people who are about read when we first started all this. That was our question to. Why is it so hard to know who killed Jim read? This case was through the eyes of the nation of the president. How could it have not been solved? But it didn't take long to be reminded that in the south there are no simple questions about the past and as we started reaching out to people for the story we found a pervasive silence that fell over so many sawmills with any mention of reeves. Name Message. One you wanted to to me about whatever. It is me out of it over the past three years. We've had plenty of calls. Like this. And doors slammed in our faces a pistol brandished in one man. My father's Day even lunch to me grabbed me by the throat and threatened to put me in a garbage can whatever that means but we kept going back. We've talked to hundreds of people here across the country reported through thousands of pages of documents. We've made a dozen trips to archives and we've talked and we've argued and we've driven back and forth to some countless times and we've done all of this because we wanted to know who killed. Jim Reap we wanted to know why the truth about his murder has been so obscured and why it seemed so many people were intent on keeping it that way and now we know. And that's the story. We're going to tell you the stories we tell about ourselves. They feel true and permanent. Like the skin we were born into. But what if you found out that a story you believe so strongly something you the people around you had staked so much of your lives on. What have you found out that that story was ally? What would you do? Believe the truth or keep believing the lie from NPR. This is white lies. The true story of what happened to Jim? Reed check out white lies at NPR DOT ORG or wherever you get your podcasts and in our next United States have anxiety episode. We'll turn our attention to the corona virus outbreak. We're going to look back at previous health. Crises for guidance. And we're going to talk with a lot of people whose experiences right now might help see the ways in which this whole mess may change. Just forget I'm on twitter at Kyw. Underscore right keep in touch John. White lies is produced by US. Graeme Smith the Colby Mr bore and Connor town. O.`Neil with help from catch shook. A researcher is Barbara Van. Workum Robert Little is our editor with big assists from Niger. Eaten Keith Woods and Chris Turbans saying audio engineers include James Willits and Alex when skits music is composed by Jeff. T. Bird special. Thanks to the Dexter teens for the use of this song. Take me to the speedway courtesy vestry records Dave Kreider archival tape in. This episode comes from Washington University in St Louis. Abc News NBC News. Pacifica radio WWL. Tv Birmingham e footage and the associated. Press a big thank you to chuck homes and the staff of WBZ Birmingham. Also Michael Ratner and Actually Messenger from. Npr's legal team and Martin NPR standards and practices editor. Thanks to the team that created a visual record of the story. Alison Hurt Scott. Stroud Thomas Wilburn Dinsdale cruise the coal were Beck and Desert Hicks checkout. Npr DOT org slash. White lies are project manager is Matilda Yard. Neil caruth is general manager for podcast and anew grunting as NPR's senior vice president for programming If you need to be reminded that we're all more connected than we realize. 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