Yesterday’s news was full of the “Not Guilty” verdicts on all counts in the Michael Jackson trial in California. He was not lynched by a crowd of angry peasants because he was Black. He is, of course now white, notorious, wealthy, controversial and not guilty of pederasty. Perhaps you as well as I didn’t like him, talented as he was, because he was weird.
At the same time in the same news reports, the victim of a real honest to Pete lynching was being honored by an apology offered by the U.S. SENATE to James Cameron “who in 1930, as a 16-year-old shoeshine boy in Marion, Indiana, was accused with two friends of murdering a white man and raping a white woman.” (NY Times p. A13) In 2005 the Senate has just now decided to offer a formal apology for all those, Black and White, who were publicly murdered by the public in those days when circumventing the law was a popular form of entertainment.
James Cameron is still around, in his wheel chair and able to recall the terrible incident where he was “by a miracle” saved when someone in the crowd that had just killed two other Black men by hanging them, called out that he was not guilty. He was saved to live a long life despite the memory of that time.
A miracle did not save Michael Jackson. It was not the adoring crowds of supporters who held up signs and chanted in his behalf. He was tried and judged by a jury over a torturous length of time and a great many people who acknowledged his skill as an entertainer still cannot understand why he invited young boys into his bed to sleep with him. He nowhere came near being lynched although there were many who wished they had not learned as much of his private life that was exposed daily in front page news items.
75 years apart these two incidents, one in which a boy was at the last moment saved from lynching on the accusation that he was Black; the other was a Black man who has been accused of being so white he cannot travel in the sun without a flunkey holding an umbrella over his head. That is not a cause for lynching but for wonderment at how the world has turned and changed in that three quarters of a century.
The Senate of the United States approves of war and control over Iraq and Afghanistan. It has apologized to interned Japanese, Hawaiians and now Black Americans who had not had the power of the American Government backing them from before Slaves were free to this point in 2005. There is more work to be done.