The execution of George Junius Stinney Jr., age 14

Filed under: African Americans,Criminal Justice,Featured |

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 – 1968)

“Over 67 years after 14-year-old George Junius Stinney Jr. was put to death by the state of South Carolina, he may soon be cleared of the crime that people familiar with the case say he never could have committed.

A lawyer and an activist both told Raw Story recently that new evidence will show that the black boy could not have possibly murdered two white girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and seven-year-old Mary Emma Thames…”

These are the opening paragraphs to an article published in online at Raw Story.  Reading the entire piece is heartbreaking. The picture of the child’s mugshot drives the stake even further into one’s chest as you peruse the piece. This murder was committed in the name of United States Citizens.

The story explains that there was no evidence found that linked this child to the murders of two white girls. I think the most horrifying part of the piece was the description of the actual execution:

“…Stinney, the youngest person to receive the death penalty in the last 100 years, was executed on June 16, 1944. At five feet one inch and only 95 pounds, the straps of the electric chair did not fit the boy. His feet could not touch the floor. As he was hit with the first 2,400-volt surge of electricity, the mask covering his face slipped off, “revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth,” according to author Joy James.

After two more jolts of electricity, the boy was dead…”

What does it say about a country/system that would do something so horrific to a child? Yet, it happened and the white community in the small South Carolina town allowed it to happen. Why did they allow it to happen?  Look no further than our Constitution to understand why. 

If a black person was only viewed as “three fifths of all Persons” then one would have no problem in extinguishing that non-person. The people/system that murdered George Junius Stinney did not see him as a person or as a valid human being. He was relegated to the same stature of an animal brought to slaughter.

There is still no transcript or evidence showing that this little boy committed this crime.  They gave him ice cream after he finished “confessing his crimes”. He was not represented by an attorney but by “court appointed 31-year-old Charles Plowden, a tax commissioner”.

He did not have a chance. “…The trial was over two hours after it began. A jury of twelve white men deliberated for 10 minutes before convicting Stinney. Plowden later told the judge that there was nothing to appeal, and the Stinney family could not afford to continue the case. A one-sentence notice of appeal would have automatically stayed the case for a year… ”

In today’s America we have an African-American President and day in and day out people of all races who support him have to watch him being delegitimized in blatant disrespectful terms. Since the“three fifths of all Persons” language has not been removed from our Constitution one must assume that those in the Republican/TeaParty, and some on the far left who still see him as the “magic negro” have internalized the words of this sacred document.

I migrated here from the Caribbean many years ago but my eyes were never opened to the state of race in this country until I married an African-American man. His stories and his daily experiences have enlightened me on many levels. I now fully understand what it is like to live in America as an African-American.  There was nothing in my experience as a Caribbean black that could have prepared me for what it is like to live in black skin in this country. The mugshot of this little boy could have been any black person’s father, grandfather or uncle.

It is good to hear that there are people out there like Attorney Steve McKenzie working hard to correct this miscarriage of justice.  In McKenzie’s opinion there is “no doubt this case was an injustice.”

“It’s good for the community,” radio show host Tom Joyner, who had two great uncles that were also executed for the crime, told CNN. “It’s good for the nation. Anytime that you can repair racism in this country is a step forward.”

Ditto.

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