Still searching for justice after decades

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Justice can sometimes be an elusive thing. But we should never stop believing we can achieve it, even after decades. This week, the U.S. Attorney’s office has asked the FBI to launch a new inquiry into the death of Ben Chester White, an elderly black farmhand who was brutally murdered in 1966.

In spite of the difficult struggles that gripped the South in the 1960s, investigators believed they knew who was responsible for White’s death. Three men were arrested. One defendant, Ernest Avants, was acquitted, a trial for the second ended with a hung jury and the third man’s case was dropped.

Anyone familiar with the crime will agree that justice was not served. And it wasn’t the first time.

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Justice also has eluded the ghosts of Wharlest Jackson, Henry Dee, Charles Moore and others like them who were killed because they were black.

Details of the crimes are enough to turn the stomachs of even the most hardened souls. Each murder has gone unsolved for decades leaving loved ones doubting whether justice will ever be served.

We hope that through renewed efforts, improved investigative work and a new, more peaceful climate each of the murders can be solved and the guilty persons receive their punishment on earth.

It hurts many to hear Avants casually use racial epithets before a national audience but it gives a glimpse of what the 1960s in Mississippi were like.

And as longtime civil rights pioneer Charles Evers said after listening to Avants’ racially-charged comments during a television interview, &uot;Where does it all end?&uot;

We hope that one day soon we can say it ends with justice.