1946: A Deathtime Ago
From Southern Spaces:
Each year since 2005, a group of multiracial activists has reenacted a lynching at Moore’s Ford in rural Georgia in which four young African Americans were murdered in 1946. The stated purpose of the reenactment is to campaign for prosecution of surviving perpetrators and more broadly to call attention to the long national history of violence against persons of color. At more nuanced levels the annual performance speaks to relations between generations, and between the living and the dead. As a ritual enacted by local people, each performance bridges experiences of racial violence and injustice while raising the promise of reconciliation.
On July 25, 1946, two young African American married couples were shot and killed near the Moore’s Ford Bridge spanning the Appalachee River, 60 miles (97 km) east of Atlanta. George W. Dorsey (born November 1917) a veteran of World War II, had been back in the United States less than nine months after serving nearly five years in the Pacific War. He was with his wife Mae Murray Dorsey (born September 20, 1922), Roger Malcolm (born March 22, 1922) and his wife Dorothy Malcolm (born July 25, 1926). They were accosted by a mob of white men as they headed to their home.
In a written statement, the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said they collected several items on a property in rural Walton County, Georgia, that were taken in for further investigation.
On July 25, 1946, two black sharecropper couples were shot hundreds of times and the unborn baby of one of the women cut out with a knife at the Moore’s Ford Bridge. One of the men had been accused of stabbing a white man 11 days earlier and was bailed out of jail by a former Ku Klux Klan member and known bootlegger who drove him, his wife, her brother and his wife to the bridge.
The FBI statement said investigators were following up on information recently received in the case, one of several the agency has revived in an effort to close decades-old cases from the civil rights era and before.
“The FBI and GBI had gotten some information that we couldn’t ignore with respect to this case,” GBI spokesman John Bankhead said.
Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a longtime advocate for prosecution in the Moore’s Ford case, called news of the search encouraging.
More from CNN:
Investigations like the one into the Georgia slayings may have gotten another boost in the past week. A U.S. senator agreed to unlock a bill that would create a “cold case unit” at the U.S. Justice Department.
The legislation is sponsored by Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and passed 422-2 in the House. But Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, used an obscure Senate rule to freeze the bill, just as he routinely does on efforts that require government spending.
The plan would authorize $10 million a year for the next 10 years for the Justice Department to create a unit prosecuting pre-1970 civil rights cases. Another $3.5 million would go annually toward the department’s cooperative efforts with local law enforcement.
But last week, a spokesman said Coburn would lift the hold in exchange for a vote on cutting Justice Department spending in other areas.
Law enforcement officials say they face a daunting task prosecuting the deaths of Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and May Murray-Dorsey.
Many of the dozen or so men who opened fire on the couples with shotguns, rifles and a machine gun are now dead, they say. And in the days following the massacre, residents of the community about 40 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia, were tight-lipped with federal agents sent by President Truman to investigate.
But advocates like Brooks say they think there was enough evidence in FBI files at the time to bring a case against the suspects. He said his group has identified five suspects in the slayings who are still alive.
A deathtime ago, and a lifetime ago:
The pursuit of justice, like that of fulfillment, is without end. In fact, one is a prerequisite for the other.
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- February 8, 2011 / 12:39 pm