BONUS: The Murder Of The Rev. James Reeb

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Hey, up first listeners, it's Rachel, and it Saturday, and we have a bonus episode for you. It's a really important story. It begins in nineteen sixty five with a man named Reverend James rebe. He was a unitarian minister and a civil rights activist, and he was killed during the voting rights movement in Selma. Alabama three men were tried and acquitted for his murder. And now NPR has this new podcast about Reeves, death and its consequences? It is called white lies and it's hosted by chip Brantley and Andrew Beck grace, they go back to. So Ma to uncover the truth about who exactly killed James rebe, and they end up on covering a story about guilt about memory and Justice. That says as much about America today as it does about the past three men eat dinner and a crowded restaurant in an unfamiliar city when they're done eating two of them. Take turns using the pay phone to make long distance phone calls to their families. One walks outside to smoke a cigar years later. Her he'd recall. How quiet it was sound of the streetlamps coming on. And when the phone calls are made they all stand in front of the restaurant in 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 in 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 three men and radically altered, allies of the other two that this moment will ripple down through the generations in ways seen an unseen affecting the children and the grandchildren of all the men who converged on the street that night. And it ripples far past 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 is ever been held to account. Eight in the white community. Resented is coming to a settlement. Join nego civil rights demonstrations. I remember the sound of that club hitting gyms. I don't remember. I don't to. Hale, and you get bad stuff. You leave it alone. I didn't discuss it with nobody Honey after it happened. I kept my mouth shut. We're gonna die. A lot of things they knew back in those days, come back to home. Limitation of murder never runs out like a tree with branches. If you could on one breast don't mean down tree going bad. It just gonna grow another brand. We need defend the root of this. from NPR. This is white lies show in which we search for the root of all I'm Andrew Beck grace. And I'm Bradley the story, we're going to tell you about what happened on the street that night. And what came after about how a lot to route irking settled 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 a lie. The lie to tangle the history from the Follivy and finally solved this murder. Support for white lies and the following message come from Alfred a cap publisher of furious hours by Casey set which explores the case of an Alabama serial killer and the unpublished book that Harper Lee worked on after tequila Mockingbird, a murderous preacher, the vigilante who shot him the lawyer who defended them. Both the true crime story that consumed Harper -ly available now wherever books are sold. Support also comes from ridge Wallid. There is, is the wallet reimagined it's innovative design uses premium materials like titanium, and carbon fiber and expands to hold, however many cards, you need with over a half million customers and thirty thousand five star reviews. The ridge comes with a lifetime warranty, if you love it, and free returns, if you don't see how it works at ridge dot com slash NPR and get ten percent off with code NPR our story takes place in Selma. Alabama, a city built on a bluff, above the Alabama river some 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 those black and white images from the civil rights movement. That's pretty much how we thought about some to in Narva from Alabama, our ancestors were here before, Alabama was a state and our family trees are populated by slave owners confederates segregationist. But those people in those times to us, they felt far away from the Alabama week grew up in which was generation removed from the nineteen sixties. And when 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 past water under the bridge? But come on white southerners are not 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 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 two thousand seventeen that 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 a simple resistance to the past. It's a resistance to a certain kind of story about the past among the stories, many white. I'll abandons don't like to talk about this. What happened in Selma on Sunday, March, seventh nineteen sixty five a spectacle of public violence would become synonymous with the city and the man who murdered here, it was images of this violence that brought him to sell them in the first place. This is simply 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 on the sidewalk. There's a cut to a medium shot of two men. John Lewis Hosea Williams, standing before reporter today to dramatize to the nation ties to the world, hundreds and thousands of Nikko, citizens of Alabama of the night, the right to vote. We intend to March to Montgomery to, Vince, then grievous to govern glossy Wallace. What are you gonna go? What are you gonna go? Are we going to do get step, but will all get stuff? And if we get stopped because stand in Chattanooga sheet in Tokyo into the mongo. Then shot Lewis Williams leading a long line of marchers. Walk into by two down. A sidewalk in through the city then there's a wider. Shop is the marchers. Cross a steel trellis bridge over 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 the other end of the bridge. A line of white state troopers dark uniforms, they're wearing helmets. He'll Billy clubs the hitch up their belts. We see the marchers getting closer before a cut to a wide shot, 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 probably saying. Spurs your audit to disperse. Go home. Go to your church. This March will not say. The marchers have come to a stop the foot of the bridge. That clear to you. Got nothing further to say to you. 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. That they turn around and this part, and then the line of 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 clubs. You can see marchers forced to the ground. Others running back up the bridge and then clouds of smoke tear gas. It happens very quickly and you see the troopers blocked by a line of police cars, obscured by thick haze beating people on the ground. And this is the part that's most memorable most disturbing. The troopers are forcing the cameramen 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. On the lane is the elevator. Okay. Well, this real. This real when this to who it's a mild winter day, 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? You. In the projects. But it's also from the Turks. Grew up in the Turks in nature and brow. The church Joanne's talking about 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, it's the place where all the marchers gathered before setting out to cross the bridge, imaging the church and the bridge JoAnne who gives civil rights tours out of town. There's points out of five story building with windows on the upper floors, broken, or boarded up. On the corner. Temp used to be department store and I remember. Going in there to go in the basement, we couldn't go in that they had a basement for the African American and years later one L council women and I wanna radio show together. And it was around Christmas is she said, JoAnne? You remember the Christmas one the land. And I was like, no no on the top floor at Tempus every year, it was the best time of the year because we would all up says, and every this wonderful win two one the land and sound costs would be. We waited all year for that. I had to remind I was African American. Okay. No, we never thought a winter wonderland that was only for like is. What are the places? Join takes groups as to the live oaks material in the west side of town. It's a total southern cliche, with a sunken tombstones on the massive live, oaks, dripping with Spanish moss, one in their dozens and dozens of tiny confederate flags marking the graves as 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. There 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 of sense why it's here. Something like thirty thousand alabamians died fighting in the civil war. And 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 that tried to make some kind of sense out of the war out of all the violence 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 afforest 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, did they dedicate the first. Elected out. First African American mayor. The same thing here. I mean within weeks of taking off. I'm sorry to asking obvious question, but is it is just completely related. That they did that at the same time that 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, he mouse die moving. It says you may have a negro mayor, but we're still here. Of course, look at the time. Why would you put the founder Glenn in a town? It had Jesse lifted African American men. If you're not trying to send a myth. says the forest was the founder and the Clinton 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 of the clan. So to get technical about it in the year two thousand white Somalians erected, a monument to a man who guided the Ku Klux Klan to its first national campaign of racial violence. Spending time in Selma is like this a nearly constant technical in often bitter relitigate of dementia of the past here in Selma. There are two distinct realms of the past 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 and beyond but to be honest, and Selma, it's hard to get beyond these two histories. They operate like two magnets with the same Peretti no matter how hard he might force them together. They will always repel each other. They will never find a way to meet some wasn't important city for the confederacy the largest munitions factory outset of Richmond. It was a late stronghold that fell toward the end of the war, and in the story of its fall, there was always nostalgia and bravery, like the monument said there is grandeur in graves, but all of that has been clips 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. Themed around the world. And now that's what most of the people who come here looking for. And that's what 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 and setting off tear gas before we turn to run too late came in from both sides front, and the band. And they were just beating people. When I remember the most those screens, people were just screaming at probably was to screaming screaming people everywhere bleeding, not moving. I thought they were dead to guests burns is. Is your blind? Then you're Kate breed you panic. Alta tells you right back to the same people and the same like lasted forever. If you could outrun them in put couldn't outrun the ones voices, they were run into horses into the crowd people are being trampled. The last thing I remember though, that, that they're seeing this horse and this lady. And I don't know what happened did he hit her feel that the horses run over I do know St. a hit the sound a head made when it hit pavement. The cameramen on the bridge rushed to develop their footage, and send it onto their producers. 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 reap whom everyone calls, Jim. He's a white unitarian minister, his 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 and 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. He 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 Somma with them 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 him to Logan airport. Jim rise 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 cokes a change is gonna come which would become an anthem for the movement is playing over and over on the box. And just line the river. The restaurant was very full as it is, as I understand that one of the two integrated restaurants town, so that particular one was quite crowded. And this was about five thirty 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 about a cigar. I still smoked in those days. And I stood outside the restaurant smoking, my cigar as the streetlights were just about to 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 is finished his long distance call. He clerked, 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. Support for this podcast and the following message. Come from ADT, America's trusted home security provider, providing secure smart, homes, custom designed with everything from video doorbells. Indoor and outdoor cameras smart locks in lights, and professionally monitored carbon monoxide and smoke detectors all controlled by the sound of your voice, or on the go with the AT go app. Learn more at ADT dot com. Support also comes from sport clips haircuts offering traditional and current haircut styles plus the convenience of self check in kiosks and an app for online. Check in whether a fresh cut beard, trim or new look, there's a sport clips nearby with over eighteen hundred locations. Sportclips you choose the cut they cut the weight. White civil rights workers in from out of town wouldn't be welcomed in some white owned restaurants. But there are two black owned cafes on Washington street. The list and clay named after the legendary heavyweight fight between Sonny liston cashes clay, and another spot cold walkers cafe, which everyone calls at his place. And that's where they end up they've come to the restaurant by walking somewhat circuitous route closer to the river around that it avoided a sketchy bar at the other end of the block called the silver moon cafe. But again, these three ministers Clark Olsen or lav Miller, Jim rib. They don't know some 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 the reverend's to Clark be Olson guest on this special public affairs, presentation of the ATV we now return and. Thought maybe bitter memories of for you. We would like to have you give us an account of what happened Mr. Wilson when you left that restaurant. And so Matt approximately seven o'clock, this past Wednesday night, it was probably a little closest thirty said it was dark at that time. This is Clark Ulsan again. I haven't yet find with 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 men. Here's a little off 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're just sort of quickened, our pace, we didn't run, but continued walking in the same direction as these men rush across Washington street toward them Clark, or Lafon Jim mumbled to each other, not to make contact to just keep walking Clark is the furthest ahead. And as he passes by the silver, moon cafe glances back sees it. The men of caught up with them quite minuting. I may say. They came across the street, and then what happened. Well, Jerry was on the sidewalk nearest street. Jim was behind as we were walking, and he 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 a club, swing this. The stick. Violently out. Jim, you swum this stick and hit. Jim on the side of the Jim immediately fell to the pavement on his back the men that 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 law falls to the pavement next to Jim ball 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 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 and, and he complained to the pain. That's all we could talk about great pain. We're often Clark support Jim is a stumble a couple of blocks to the Boyden insurance agency, headquarters, one of the civil rights organizations, the ministers have been told to go there any problems. And when they get in their young civil rights worker, Diane Bevill, this 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 is the most seriously injured in that was Reverend James Reed, he was saying that he would be all right. And the his to trans than I were really adamant that you've got to get medical attention. Like everything else in some of the city's medical facility. Were largely segregated and because it's remembers there for a 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 of his head. Jim goes unconscious, and the doctor decides right away that he has to be seen by neurosurgeon, the closest one is at university hospital, 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. Possible brain concussion. King addresses the crowd. A news alert hits the wires and soon. It's on TV civil rights workers attacked and Selma. The word about Jim makes it out of Somma before he does. Heidi. Orlov Miller died in two thousand fifteen but we found Clark Olsen living in Asheville North Carolina. Felted by. We ask Clark why he decided to go to Selma in nineteen sixty five and how that it affected his life. But soon we were there in the story of the night itself. Clark Orlov in gem walking shoulder to shoulder along the wide sidewalk. Jim on the outside edge closest to the street it just as a walking in there. We saw three or four men. I was quite sure at the time there were four men who came as cross 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 Selma. Clark, sat with John, I was holding Jim's hand as the pain got worse and worse for him. Jim squeezed, tighter and tighter. Then suddenly his hand went limp as he lost consciousness. So I was the last person literally in touch with him before he went on conscious. Remember Jim needed to see a neurosurgeon, and the closest one was in Birmingham. So they drove north out 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 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. It Jim on the stretcher, and then car full of white men pulled up on IWay behind us stopped right behind the eminence. And I remember, I'm not sure how much discussed this with Earl off. But what went through? My head was home. My gosh. This might be a conspiracy here. I remember a rush of feeling Clark. You just have to get out of the year. Just run this dotty here. Is he thought about running something else rushed into his mind? The news flashes from the summer before Mississippi when three civil rights workers gone missing, and then six weeks later, the discovery of their murdered bodies in the mud buried deep in an earth dam. And I thought my body might be an additional night. 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 for another ambulance. The car that'd been trailing them turned in follow 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. What 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 the Clark in the moment, there in the back of the ambulance, he watched is the green Nash metropolitan, turn 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 another ambulance, as the all waited Clark, watch through the windows, several other white men arrived and circle. The ambulance peering inside talking with the driver suddenly dawned on me that often. Fire going to have to get out of the car and shift gyms, gurney over to the ambulance, the second ambulance, and these guys are walking around and what were they going to do to us? I didn't know. When we go out. And I started to work to take Jim's body over one of them came up to me and said, very unfriendly, tone, something, something as simple. Hey, what's happening here? And. All I could bring myself to say was, please 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 Bula. Silence. In Boston, Jim Reeves wife. Marie heard the phone ring and rushed to pick up the receiver before it will there four kids. She just talked to a couple of hours before when he called from the payphone of the restaurant Selma. But now it was their minister hoping to catch from re before she turned on the eleven o'clock news. He told her the gym had been involved in an incident Soma, and that he was now an ambulance headed to Birmingham. The minister was careful to be about what exactly happened told her that she should began making arrangements to get to Alabama. Dr Allen was one of the surgeons on call at Birmingham, university hospital that night dick have 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 democrat been in the hospital, and it fell on him to pronounce the four little girls dead. And now the night of March ninth nineteen sixty five democ was home when he got a call about a head injury in 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 mob and got hit the head. So I knew we had hit injury. And that's reason I'm 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 depressed. But everybody who was interested. The ambulance finally pulled into the emergency room entrance around eleven pm dick remember seeing the doors swing. Open the stretcher with general, then I remember vividly. We brought the patient into the one of the cubicles there, and I was standing over the head of the patient, he wouldn't read them. We'll so we had to do what we call a tracheotomy, and I looked up, and there was television camera grinding away the nurse couldn't walk across the room to get a suture or get addressing or anything because so many people in the room. So it was amiss hit was chaos and there as you can. Well, imagine. time read 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 have to be interviewed. But those around are 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 husband had been attacked Marie walked into the hospital director's office, TV cameramen reporters photographers. There were crowded into the cramped space MAURICE behind the hospital. Director's desk, her hands were clashed in front of her. And she looked down at them or at the microphone throughout most of the interview was the decision for your husband to come here, a mutual decision. Did you sit down together discuss? Cave home about six of the evening. I was preparing supper. And he has to come upstairs to discuss a matter. He said that he wanted to go to some. And what I've 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 tacked? 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 Soma was worth? I don't care. I don't feel that I can answer that for myself. I can only answer for Jim that to any consequences might occurred did. There. This. One of the last questions was about their four children, would have even told Marie answered I told the children this morning as soon as they woke up with their father had been heard the youngest ones did not fully understand, but the thirteen year old was quite upset. How Birmingham natives who would later go on to be executive editor of the New York Times was a cub reporter for the Birmingham, post herald nineteen sixty five Ray was in the in the hospital for two days, and I was dispatched there and obviously cupboard MRs Reeves press conference, but then as a young reporter 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 important three right men where arrested today in Alabama on charges of a salt with intent to murder, three white ministers on downtown street corner in Selma. Alabama last night after the violence on the bridge that Sunday, the eyes of the nation were already on some, the FBI lawyers for the department of Justice. They were all there on the ground and protests about buddy, Sunday now about the attack on rebe. We're putting intense. Pressure on president Lyndon Johnson. He 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 vile, somberly through the streets in client, but I'd gone is protests. 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 cinnabun cave yellow roses to Marie at the hospital in Birmingham. The Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach called the president of the day after the attack brief him on Reid's condition. LBJ recorded it as he did with almost all his calls. This ministers died. The already did. What do you think you? Tell me that he could pay another twenty four thirty six hours. These mechanical things, I think you've probably direly, I've arranged with the local authorities down there that when the minister died, they'll file I three murder charges. The next morning, the doctors, huddled with the read family, then laters keeping him alive. But there was no hope of recovery. Thursday 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 were later recruited her memories in audio diary. Come. The Reverend read it died Linden. I excused I was for a moment. A helpless painful moment, we talk to Mrs Read, but what is that? A say we went up stay as a little past ten within here, the congressional guests, they're laughing, the music steel going below and out in front, but chanting civil rights marches. What a house what alive. Joanne bland, gives her civil rights tours of Selma. 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 for do people comment on just how many abandoned businesses. There are how many sort of broken down building, 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, whether you expect the system goes to the case system. Goes down everything goes down. So no jobs is hard to get any company to come here because they look back at that strife it never ever recovers, it always. And then we're so small, nobody to have the blight. That in large cities, you they'll just kill off a section. Yeah. Never take you over there, if you visited but still. Everything doesn't even need to see is where the blight is. I'm getting hot. 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 names 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, since this is radio. Tell me about the names because we talked about that a little, they talk about three of the deaths that were directly related to the Sam struggle. Reverend James read unitarian minister from Boston Rowlett grid lose. Oh, detroit. Housewife and dimly Jackson young man who was sought in Mariam bass 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 about 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, 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 re would never have been in Selma without Jackson's murder in twenty 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 Jim Rome in late March. She had comes out to help with the voting rights move, and while driving between some Montgomery, she was overtaken by carful of Klansmen who shot into a car and killed her two of the men's ten years in prison. Another man died before sentencing and another man in the car because it was an. FBI informant lived the rest of his life in the witness protection program. But all these 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 F B I reopened the case in two thousand eight but they to of intially 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. But why it was see is though he is miss off. And all of it would come to life because he was white, man. Wow. Did that come about that we can solve Jim is what we saw read? It's a hot defined these people who all about read. When we first started all this, that was our question to why is it so hard to know who kill 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 fell over so many so meals with any mention of ribs name. Message one. I understand you wanted to talk to me about whatever it is. They 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 and one man. My father's age 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 report 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 this, because we wanted to know who kill Jim reap. We wanted to know why the truth about his murder has been so obscured in 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 and the people around you had staked, so much of your lives on what if you found out that that's? Story was a lie. What would you do believe the truth? Or keep believing the lie. From NPR. This is white lies. The true story of what happened Jim Reid. White lies is produced by us Graeme Smith. The Colby Mr. bore Connor tone Neil with help from catch shook, Nick a researcher is Barbara van workum, rubber little editor with big assists from Keith woods. And Chris turbans. Saying. Audio engineers include James Willits, and Alex win skits music is composed by Jeff T bird special, thanks to the devotees for the use of this song. Take me to the speedway. Courtesy of estrus records, and 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, mica rattener, actually messenger from NPR's legal team and Martin NPR standards and practices at our. Thanks to the team that created a visual record of the story. Alison hurt Scott Stroud Thomas Wilburn din. Delacruz the coal were back and desert fix checkout. NPR dot org slash white. Lies are project manager is Matilda yard Neil Caruth is general manager for podcasts. And onion, grunt is NPR's senior vice president program. If you need to be reminded that we're all more connected than we realize, get the story core podcast in restore your faith in humanity. Uninterrupted conversations between real people about the things that matter most and this season in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the stonewall uprising, we're highlighting voices of LGBTQ, people across America stories from those who lived before stonewall today, episodes are available every Tuesday. That was the first episode of NPR's new podcast white lies. You can subscribe to what lies right now, new episodes drop every Tuesday. I'm Rachel Martin. And this is up. I we will be back Monday morning with all the news, you need to know. Support for NPR is brought to you by Columbia gas running out of hot water can be aggravating, switch to natural gas with Columbia, gas and get long-lasting high water and the efficiency that can save you money. Visit Columbia gas, VA dot com slash switch to get started.

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