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Jimmie Lee Jackson: Wikis

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Jimmie Lee Jackson (December 1938 – February 26, 1965) was a young, unarmed civil rights protestor who was shot by an Alabama State Trooper in 1965.[1] Jackson's death inspired the Selma to Montgomery marches, an important event in the American Civil Rights movement.[1]

Contents

Personal background

Jimmie Lee Jackson was a deacon of the St. James Baptist Church in Marion, Alabama, ordained in the summer of 1964.[2] Jackson had tried to register to vote without success for four years.[2] Jackson was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who had touched off a campaign against Alabama restrictions on Negro voting and attended meetings several nights per week at Zion's Chapel Methodist Church.[2] This desire to vote led to his death at the hands of an Alabama State Trooper, and to the inspiration for the Selma to Montgomery marches.[2]

Non-violent protest

On the night of February 18, 1965, around 500 people left Zion United Methodist Church in Marion and attempted a peaceful walk to the Perry County Jail about a half a block away where young Civil Rights worker James Orange was being held.[3] The marchers planned to sing hymns and return to the church. Police later stated they believed the crowd was planning a jailbreak.[3]

Police violence

They were met at the Post Office[3] by a line of Marion City police officers, sheriff's deputies, and Alabama State Troopers.[1] In the standoff, streetlights were abruptly turned off (some sources[3] say they were shot out by the police), and the police began to beat the protestors.[3][1] Among those beaten were two United Press International photographers, whose cameras were smashed, and NBC News correspondent Richard Valeriani, who was beaten so badly that he was hospitalized.[3] The marchers turned and scattered back towards the church.

Twenty-six-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson, his mother Viola Jackson, and his 82-year-old grandfather, Cager Lee, ran into Mack's Café behind the church, pursued by Alabama State Troopers. Police clubbed Cager Lee to the floor[1] in the kitchen. The police continued to beat the cowering octogenarian Lee, and when his daughter Viola attempted to pull the police off, she was also beaten.[4] When Jimmie Lee attempted to protect his mother, one trooper threw him against a cigarette machine. A second trooper shot Jimmie Lee twice in the abdomen.[4] James Bonard Fowler later admitted to being that trooper.[1] Although shot twice, Jimmie Lee fled the café amid additional blows from police clubs and collapsed in front of the bus station.[3] Jackson made a statement to a lawyer, Oscar Adams of Birmingham in the presence of FBI officials stating he was "clubbed down" by State Troopers after he was shot and had run away from the café.[5]

Jimmie Lee Jackson died at Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma, on February 26, 1965.[3][1] After his death, Sister Michael Anne, and administrator at Good Samaritan, said there were powder burns on Mr. Jackson's abdomen, indicating that he was shot at very close range.[5]

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Burial

Jackson was buried in Heard Cemeterey, an old slave burial ground, next to his father.[3] His headstone was financed by the Perry County Civic league and since his burial, his headstone has been vandalized, bearing the marks of at least one shotgun blast.[3]

Criminal charges against killer

A grand jury declined to indict Fowler in September 1965, identifying him only by his surname: Fowler.[1]

On 10 May 2007, 42 years after the crime, Fowler was charged with first degree and second degree murder for the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson[6] and surrendered to authorities. Fowler's trial was set for the week of Oct 20, 2008.[7]

Significance

This incident provided the primary catalyst for SCLC leader James Bevel to initiate and organize the first Selma to Montgomery march that occurred a few days later, and became known as “Bloody Sunday”, 7 March 1965.[1]

References

External links


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