Sunday, June 12, 2016

"Please Daddy, please get up!"

11 giugno 1963 il presidente americano John Fitzgerald Kennedy pronunciava il discorso contro la segregazione razziale: "We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home; but are we to say to the world, and, much more importantly, for each other, that this is a land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettos, no master race, except with respect to Negroes?
Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.
The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.
We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your state and local legislative bodies and, above all, in all of our daily lives.
It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the facts that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all."

Il 12 giugno 1963, mentre usciva dalla sua auto al ritorno da una riunione con gli avvocati del NAACP, Medgar Wiley Evers fu assassinato con un colpo di fucile alla schiena, davanti alla propria casa. "Please Daddy, please get up!" gli gridava uno dei suoi figli mentre lui moriva a terra, lì davanti.

Medgar Wiley Evers fu sepolto il 19 giugno nel cimitero nazionale di Arlington con gli onori militari di fronte a una folla di oltre tremila persone. Il 23 giugno 1964, Byron De La Beckwith, un venditore di fertilizzanti membro del White Citizens' Council e del Ku Klux Klan, fu arrestato per l'omicidio di Evers.

Durante la prima udienza, nel 1964, De La Beckwith ricevette le visite dell'ex governatore del Mississippi Ross Barnett e del pià importante generale dell'esercito Edwin A. Walker. Per ben due volte quell'anno le giurie, composte da soli bianchi, non raggiunsero un verdetto sulla colpevolezza di De La Beckwith. Vi furono manifestazioni e tumulti. Tra coloro che presero posizione a seguito della morte di Evers e della vicenda giudiziaria, numerosi furono i musicisti che dedicarono alcune composizioni.

Nel 1994, trent'anni dopo i due processi senza verdetto, De La Beckwith venne nuovamente processato. Durante il processo, il corpo di Evers venne riesumato per l'autopsia, e fu trovato in ottimo stato di conservazione grazie all'imbalsamazione.

Il 5 febbraio 1994, di fronte a una giuria composta da quattro bianchi e otto uomini di colore, De La Beckwith fu condannato all'ergastolo per l'omicidio di Medgar Evers, dopo tre decenni vissuti da uomo libero. Egli ricorse in appello ma la richiesta venne respinta.

Abbiamo imparato qualcosa?

Soundtrack:  Nina Simone: Mississippi Goddam

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer

Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying 'Go slow!'

But that's just the trouble
'Do it slow'
Washing the windows
'Do it slow'
Picking the cotton
'Do it slow'
You're just plain rotten
'Do it slow'
You're too damn lazy
'Do it slow'
The thinking's crazy
'Do it slow'
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don't know
I don't know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin'

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it's a communist plot
All I want is equality
For my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you'd stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You're all gonna die and die like flies
I don't trust you any more
You keep on saying 'Go slow!'
'Go slow!'

But that's just the trouble
'Do it slow'
'Do it slow'
Mass participation
'Do it slow'
'Do it slow'
Do things gradually
'Do it slow'
But bring more tragedy
'Do it slow'
Why don't you see it
Why don't you feel it
I don't know
I don't know

You don't have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

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