Truth, crushed to the ground …always rises.
Perhaps it is happening that our nation will begin to open its ears and hear the stories of the way it has treated too many of its citizens, because their voices are rising.
In her work investigating the stories of African-Americans, primarily males, who have been killed by police and/or vigilantes, SpiritHouse Project co-founder Ruby Sales receives stories from mothers and relatives of slain and all-but-forgotten husbands, brothers and sons who met their deaths in that way.
They call looking for help as they seek answers or justice or both. Sales, who has been looking into these murders for a while, takes each case with care, concern and outrage that so many have been murdered with local, state and federal governments looking the other way.
This week, she received notice that on Sunday, November 10, there will be a memorial service for a man named Isaiah Nixon, a black man who at age 38 was killed by two white men in 1948 after he had exercised his right to vote.
Nixon’s death has been being investigated by the office of Margaret Burnham, who is a professor of law and the Director of Civil Rights and Restorative Justice at Northeastern University in Boston. Christopher Bridges was a law student at Northeastern working with the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice project when he resurrected the case. He uncovered the story, and, after two years of work to nurture interest in Nixon’s death, Burnham’s his work has resulted in awareness and interest in this man and his situation.
According to Bridges’ work, , Nixon, a United States military veteran, returned to his home in Alston, Georgia, after voting in the Georgia primary election. Shortly thereafter, two white men who were also brothers, showed up at Nixon’s house and ordered him to come to them. When Nixon refused, the two men shot him three times – as his wife and six children looked on, horrified. He was taken to the hospital, but died 48 hours later.
The two men were tried and acquitted of Nixon’s murder and a fund was launched by a local newspaper and the NAACP to relocate his family to Florida.
Isaiah Nixon, who had fought for his country, was shot and killed and nobody seemed to care.
Burnham’s office said the memorial service to be held on November 10 in Mt. Vernon, Georgia, was planned intentionally for that date – as Nixon was a war veteran.
Sales, who says white and black America has bought into the myth that black people are “thugs and animals,” has solicited the expertise and help of Burnham as she investigates deaths such as Nixon’s. These types of murders, she said, are a part of social control wielded by law enforcement.
“Somewhere in our souls, we have given up our children,” Sales said, recalling the ways she remembers personally how police used to terrorize black children and youth. There is a difference between people now and then, she said. Back then, she said, “our parents refused to give our children up.” Today, parents have given into the myth that says black people are …”thugs and animals.”
At Sunday’s memorial service for Nixon, relatives will attend. Although nobody knows where Nixon is buried, there is a move in Alston to construct a permanent marker in his memory.
Some 60 years after his murder, that is good.
But the troubling thing is that for so long, he lay buried somewhere, all but forgotten. He was lynched by gunshot…and forgotten.
Sales believes there are many, many more like Nixon. She is working to make sure the SpiritHouse Project uncovers as many as possible, giving voice to voices that were cruelly silenced just because they were the wrong color.
Truth, crushed to the ground, always wiggles its way out of the dust. It always comes out, always rises. Nixon’s voice is rising.
A candid observation …