KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

January 23, 1957

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

 Willie Edwards was 25. His wife Sarah was pregnant with their third child. Winn-Dixie had hired him as a driver just two months earlier, a job he needed not just to support his growing family, but two sisters as well.


His boss asked him if he could substitute on a route. He quickly accepted the offer, happy for the extra income.


On his way back from his evening run to Sylacauga, AL he stopped for a soda.  He turned on the truck’s dome light to read his log.


Klansmen plan

It was around 11:30 PM. Henry Alexander, Raymond Britt, Sonny Kyle Livingston Jr,  and James York sat nearby about to execute their latest terrorist act: kidnap a black man who they’d heard had said “something” to a white woman.


They walked up to Edwards’s truck, pointed a gun at him, and ordered him into their vehicle.


The men shoved and slapped him as they drove. One man pointed his gun at Mr. Edwards and threatened to castrate him. Sobbing and begging the men not to harm him, Edwards repeatedly denied having said anything to any white woman.


When the men reached the Tyler-Goodwyn Bridge, they ordered Edwards out of the car and gave a choice to him: jump or they’d shoot him.  Edwards climbed the railing of the bridge and fell 125 feet to his death.


The next morning, Edwards’s truck was found in the store parking lot, the dome light still on.  Others assumed him simply missing.  Perhaps he’d gone to California, a place he’d always wanted to go. 


Fishermen found Edwards’s decomposed body in April and Sarah officially became a widow. The police closed their missing persons case.


Sarah left Montgomery in 1961 and never returned.


Attorney General Bill Baxley

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

Bill Baxley had become Alabama’s Attorney General in 1971. He considered it part of his job to try to uncover evidence of Alabama’s murderous racist past.


In 1976  Edward R. Fields— founder of the “National States’ Rights Party” and “Grand Dragon” of the New Order Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — sent Baxley a threatening letter regarding Baxley’s policy. Baxley famously wrote back, telling Fields, “Kiss my ass.”


KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr


KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr


In a conversation with Raymond Britt, Britt told Baxley that he, Britt, had left the Klan after he and the others had killed Edwards.


On February 20, 1976 Baxley gave Britt immunity for his testimony and filed first-degree murder charges against Livingston, Alexander, and York.


Because the cause of Edwards’s death was difficult to determine,  the court twice denied the indictments.


 “Merely forcing a person to jump from a bridge does not naturally and probably lead to the death of such a person,” Judge Frank Embry ruled. 


FBI intervenes

The intervention that ended the investigation came from the FBI. It informed Baxley that Henry Alexander was their primary Klan informant in the area and asked Baxley to give him “some consideration.”


“Consideration” was something Alexander had enjoyed many times. Alabama had previously indicted Alexander for four church bombings, the bombings of two homes, and the assault of a black woman riding on a bus, He was never prosecuted.


At that point, unable to proceed with any confidence in a conviction, Baxley abandoned the case against the men and dropped all charges .


Henry Alexander’s conscience

Jimmy York died in 1979


Henry Alexander died  in 1993, but before he did he confessed and told the whole story to his wife Diane. One of the things he said was, “That man never hurt anybody. I was just running my mouth. I caused it.”


She was sickened by the story. Ashamed. “Henry lived a lie all his life, and he made me live it, too,” she said. Alexander’s family refused to believe the confession and wanted nothing to do with the revelation Diane wanted.


After Henry’s death, Diane wrote to Sarah Jean Salter who lived in Buffalo, NY.  “I hope maybe one day I can meet you to tell you face to face how sorry I am,” the letter said. “May God bless you and your family and I pray that this letter helps you somehow.” 


Later she met in person with Melinda O’Neill, Edwards’s daughter, who was three at the time of her father’s murder.


In 1997, as a result of requests by Willie Edwards’ daughter Malinda Edwards, the Alabama Department of Vital Statistics changed her father’s cause of death from “unknown” to “homicide.” (Northeastern University School of Law entry)


A 1999 Montgomery County grand jury declined to indict any of the surviving suspects for the murder of Willie Edwards Jr. (see Feb 14)


Raymond C. Britt died in December 2004


FBI re-investigation 


In September 1993, the FBI began an investigation into its own possible part in preventing a prosecution of the murder. (NYT article)


On July 9, 2013, the US Justice Department officially closed its investigation with the following statement. It is assumed that the redacted name is that of Sonny Livingston.


The State of Alabama has declined to authorize a third prosecution of XXXX, the only living subject, under Alabama law.  It should be noted that additional witnesses and subjects have died since the second grand jury declined to indict based upon insufficient evidence, and all individuals other than XXXXXX alleged to have had direct knowledge of this incident are now deceased.  Accordingly, this matter should be closed.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama concurs in this recommendation.  (justice.gov site)


Other Sources:

New York Times article


KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

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December 6 Music et al

December 6 Music et al

Brian Epstein

December 6, 1961: The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best) meet with Brian Epstein for further discussions about his proposal to manage them. He wants 25 percent of their gross fees each week, in return for which he will be responsible for arranging their bookings. He promises that their bookings will be better organized, more prestigious, and will expand beyond the Liverpool area. He also promises that they will never again play for less than 15 pounds, except for Cavern lunchtime sessions, for which he will get their fee doubled to ten pounds. Most important of all, he promises to get them out of their recording contract with Bert Kaempfert in Germany, then use his influence to garner them a contract with a major British label. John Lennon, as leader of The Beatles, accepts on their behalf. There is no contract signing at this point, because the standard contracts are so exploitive that Epstein is disgusted by them; he promises The Beatles that he will prepare a fairer document. (see Dec 9)

1st Beatles Christmas record

 

December 6, 1963, The Beatles released their first Christmas recording: The Beatles Christmas Record. (see Dec 7)


Rubber Soul

December 6 Music et al

December 6, 1965, US release of Rubber Soul.  The American version differed markedly from the UK release. Capitol removed the tracks "Drive My Car," "Nowhere Man," "What Goes On," and "If I Needed Someone," and replaced them with two from the UK Help! album, "I've Just Seen a Face" and "It's Only Love." The song sequence,  placing the Help! tracks at the beginning of each side, Rubber Soul appeared as a "folk rock" album to angle The Beatles into that emergent American genre during 1965. The changes angered the Beatles. (Beatles, see Dec 17; see Rubber Soul for more)
December 6 Music et al

Beggars BanquetDecember 6 Music et al

December 6, 1968: The Rolling Stones released Beggars Banquet album.

December 6 Music et al

Altamont Free Concert

December 6, 1969: (at the Altamont Speedway in northern California, between Tracy and Livermore) headlined and organized by The Rolling Stones, it also featured, in order of appearance: Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Jefferson Airplane, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform, but declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue (see Rolling Stones Altamont Banquet and NYT article)

Steam

December 6 – 19, 1969:  “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” by Steam #1 on the Billboard Hot 1

December 6 Music et al,

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December 2 Music et al

December 2 Music et al

Beatles on TV

December 2, 1963: The Beatles appeared on one of the more popular TV shows in the UK, Morecambe and Wise. From the Beatles Bible site:
 

In the morning they rehearsed their act prior to filming in the afternoon. The Beatles performed three songs to a small studio audience: This Boy, All My Loving and I Want To Hold Your Hand.

They were then joined by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise for some banter and a light-hearted version of golden oldie Moonlight Bay.

The episode of The Morecambe And Wise Show was shown on the ITV network on Saturday 18 April 1964 at 8.25 pm. It was repeated on 24 July the following year on The Best Of Morecambe And Wise.

The audio recording of Moonlight Bay was released on Anthology 1 in 1995. (see Dec 4)  

Monkees

Daydream Believer

December 2 – December 29, 1967 – “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones LtdDecember 2 Music et al

December 2, 1967 – January 5, 1968 – The Monkees Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. the Billboard #1 album.
December 2 Music et al

see Wonderwall Music for more

December 2, 1968: George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music album released. (see Dec 20)

George Harrison/Delaney & Bonnie

December 2, 1969: on December 1, George Harrison had watched husband and wife act Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett perform at the Albert Hall in London. On December 2 he joined them on stage in Bristol, for his first stage appearance since The Beatles' final concert on 29 August 1966. Freed from the attentions of Beatlemania, he was able to be a largely anonymous band member, although he did sing songs including Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby on at least one occasion. Harrison stayed on the tour for six dates until it ended. They played two shows each night, in Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool and Croydon. (see Dec 15)
 

Thriller

December 2, 1983: MTV broadcasts Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video with a running time of 13 minutes and 42 seconds! (JIC, see September 22, 1992; Korematsu, see January 30, 2011) 
 

December 2 Music et al, December 2 Music et al, December 2 Music et al, December 2 Music et al, 

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