When the judge cut the eight of them loose, and all five hundred of them negroes stood up at once, I thought for sure either I was gonna die, or I’d have blood on my hands before I got out of that courtroom.
I ain’t never heard no other noise like that. The shuffle of shoes against wooden floors, the stomp of heels hitting the ground, the drawing in of breath, all in unison.
I swear to God, the fat bailiff next to me half pissed himself.
I wasn’t much better. I tried to remember what that girl I’d had a month back looked like naked, and just why she’d agreed to the tryst in the first place. I figured if I was going to have a last thought, I’d make it a fun one.
But, as the eight Klansmen filed out to the whoops and hollers of their kind, them negroes just stood silent, watching, like they were saying more with their mute witness than any lawyer had said over the course of this whole case.
Then, they all filed out together, not saying anyone to anything, just movin’ on.
I think that’s when I remembered to breathe again.
In 1874 a group of Klu Klux Klansmen lynched 16 blacks in Gibson County, Tennessee. Their trial was held here in Memphis. The judge freed all eight of the men that were charged, while five hundred blacks watched on, knowing that this country’s courts were not for them.