11 people on the crime that changed modern America


Abdul Qayoumi, who worked with then student Oscar L. Barden and served as a mentor to Tony Walters and Alice Walker:

“There is no question that [African-American] spirit was dominant at the time. But none of them were the actual killers in this case. We’re talking about a gang of about 10 men – these were just hate groups that could be influenced and directed by a single person. So when [apparent Martin Luther King Jr. assassin James] Earl Ray was given a hundred years in prison for…fighting against the white supremacy system… he couldn’t have acted alone.”

I told Richard Goodwin, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Black Americans for editing the New York Times articles that uncovered the evidence that a third of the evidence was contaminated, “Look at it from your point of view – what would you have done if your name had been mentioned in that news story?”

Karni Williams, senior member of the NAACP, who noted there is no public statue to the slain civil rights leader, saying:

“People are interested in Malcolm X as an opponent to Jim Crow; not as someone who fought for equal rights. That’s the tension I still see in our community. And that was a problem for Malcolm X when he was alive.”

‘We are a much better community than we were in 1964 when Malcolm was killed,’ she said. ‘But we still have a long way to go.’

Adora Obi Nweze, former president of the Detroit Board of Education, who attended a school run by one of the victim’s daughters:

“I remember a young black girl at Forest Hills saying how badly it felt. And there was no closure, no justice that could be provided to me and my family. It felt like this was not of my community, of my time.

“Some say that institutional racism exists now that is worse. But it was greater, and that’s the challenge that we have to deal with.”

‘If they do bring those guys back to prison, bring them back as an institution,’ said Mr. Goodwin, after the panel ended.

Peter Burke, SESTA/ActNow co-founder, who advocated for the Fair Sentencing Act, and another co-founder, who gave his name only as “hope”, known only as “faith”, who sought a stricter law around bail that would have put more bondsmen at risk if a person was accused of a crime:

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