Georgia's Lena Baker finds mercy 60 years after her execution
Symbolically, Baker has finally overcome it. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles in Atlanta voted unanimously last week to pardon her. On Aug. 30, the board will hand the pardon to her great-nephew, Roosevelt Curry, who sought the declaration.
Officials across the U.S. South are facing up to racial wrongs committed generations ago, in the days when discrimination against blacks was systematic and routine. Elderly white men are being convicted for the first time for racially driven killings that were committed during the 1960s in Mississippi and Alabama.
Two men responsible for the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham that killed four black girls were convicted in separate trials in 2001 and 2002 in that Alabama city. This year, a Mississippi jury convicted Edgar Killen, 80, in the slayings of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1964.
Take away race, and Baker's case was simply about a drunken argument that turned violent when a woman tried to end her relationship with an older, abusive man, who was her employer. Ernest Knight was 67 when he died. Baker was 44 when she was executed.
Yet race was central to the case. Given the time and place, the outcome would have been different if she had been white, or if the man she killed had been black, says James Ely Jr., a law professor and legal historian at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
comments powered by Disqus
- Were Neanderthals a sub-species of modern humans? New research says no
- Irish archaeological sites explain huge European population fall
- Reactions to JFK Assassination Included Fear of Possible Soviet Strike against U.S.; Desire to "Bond" with LBJ
- Swiss Museum to Announce Decision on Nazi-Looted Art Next Week
- What Happened the Last Time Republicans Had a Majority This Huge?
- Juan Cole says the postwar Middle East governments were modeled on the Soviet Union, though not communist (interview)
- Ted Widmer picks the 5 best presidential books worth reading
- AHA backs California's LGBT History law
- Cultural historian traces history of baby food
- Jules Witcover identifies the best and worst veeps in US history in an interview about his new book