A former Alabama state trooper pleaded guilty Monday to the shooting death of a man 45 years ago at the height of the civil rights movement.
The trooper, James Bonard Fowler of Black, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter. He had been charged with two counts of murder in the shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson during a melee in a restaurant in Marion in 1965.
More than five years ago, former Alabama state trooper James Fowler admitted to The Anniston Star that he shot an unarmed civil rights worker during a 1965 melee in a small, west-central Alabama town. Until his admission, the public did not know the identity of the man responsible for the gunshot wounds that killed Jimmie Lee Jackson in Marion.
Forty-five years ago, a man named Thad Christian died of a shotgun blast to the stomach on a rural stretch of road south of Jacksonville. Yet, his death did not garner the notice of the other killings that summer. It was covered in the press but quickly faded from the front pages even though the circumstances, according to news reports, were disturbing.
Some 60 family members of people who lost their lives during the civil rights movement are in Atlanta this weekend in the first gathering of its kind to explore what organizers say are the “legal, historical and societal impact” of the killings.
One name often mentioned in the turbulent history of the civil rights movement in this part of Alabama is Kenneth Adams. The case of Willie Brewster, shot down by nightriders in July of 1965, is no exception.
As to the facts of the case of Willie Brewster, a man shot to death by nightriders on a lonely stretch of Alabama 202 more than four decades ago, Harry Sims is as detailed as the frayed onion-skin original report he holds out to a reporter with a shaky hand.
During the darkest days of the civil rights movement, 7-year-old Willie Brewster Jr. took his dying daddy’s hand in an Anniston hospital and held it tight as the reality of the darkest day of his young life came crashing down around him.