Jimmie Lee Jackson: One Who Went Before
If I could, I’d add another stone to the crowded cemetery rows here, bearing the name of Jimmie Lee Jackson. He was shot by an Alabama State Trooper in 1965, and died several days later.
The same trooper-shooter killed another unarmed young black man in 1966. Forty-five years later, under pressure from black state legislators, a prosecutor finally took up Jackson’s case. The story is summarized in this blog post.
Jackson’s death, and the heedless racism that killed him, did not go unmarked or unanswered: it sparked the march from Selma to Montgomery, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & now-Rep. John Lewis at the head, which brought about passage of the Voting Rights Act.
The VRA changed America for the better, in the half century before it was gutted by a reactionary majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The VRA is still in large measure Jimmie Lee Jackson’s legacy; and perhaps soon it will be returned to life, and can become a key part of a living memorial for him, for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, for all the others here, and a marker of a better future for the generations they won’t live to see.