It came back to me in a heartbeat.
Bryan Stevenson was relating the experiences of a wrongly-convicted black guy to a popular TV network journalist the other day.
“I didn’t do it,” swore the suspect. “Listen,” said the cop, “You’re going to jail. Take a look. White prosecutor. White judge. All-white jury!” No reference was made to the court-appointed defense attorney, but you can darn betcha that he was white, also. The police officer’s words were accurate, and it took years before an Innocence Project corrected this injustice.
If the name Bryan Stevenson doesn’t ring a bell, I must confess that he’s a hero in my mind. I’ve met him, and I’ve chatted with him. Bryan A. Stevenson is an African-American lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of Equal Justice Initiative.
His story over the weekend brought the Maurice Carter battle right to the forefront of my mind again. My brother Maurice, of Gary, Indiana, was arrested in Benton Harbor, Michigan, for a crime he did not commit. The warrant was issued by a white prosecutor. The trial was presided over by a white judge. He was defended, if you can call it that, by a white court-appointed attorney who had a reputation for dozing in the courtroom. And, the decision was rendered by an all-white jury. A black man had shot a white cop, and somebody was going to pay! Maurice served 29 years for a crime he did not commit.
I’ve gotta tell you that many of the people with whom I associated didn’t give a Tinker’s damn back then, and when it comes to this subject today, many still don’t. Maddening!
More than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most U.S. adults say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of black people in American society today. More than four-in-ten say the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality, and there is some skepticism, particularly among blacks, that black people will ever have equal rights with whites, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
According to Pew: Majorities of black and white adults say blacks are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with police and by the criminal justice system.
True, I’m white. But, in case you haven’t noticed, this makes me angry.
Said Dr. M.L. King: “300 years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.”
It’s why I keep shouting.