Monday, January 13, 2020

Annual King Lecture Remembers Crusading Black Journalist

by Jim Baggett, Archives Department, Central Library



We hope you will join the Birmingham Public Library and the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists as we host historian Kimberley Mangun for our Seventeenth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture at the Central Library on Sunday, January 19, at 3:00 p.m. Dr. Mangun will discuss her new book, Editor Emory O. Jackson, the Birmingham World, and the Fight for Civil Rights in Alabama, 1940-1975. The event is free and open to the public.

Emory Jackson served as editor of the Birmingham World, our city’s longest running African American newspaper, from 1941 until his death in 1975. As a crusading journalist, Jackson was sometimes at the center of historic events, other times commenting from the sidelines. He battled for the right of every person to vote and he battled against the unfairness and indignities of Jim Crow.

Jackson was a fighter, but he was also an eloquent voice for justice and decency. We see his eloquence, and weary anger, in the newspaper column he wrote three days after four young women died in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. In part, Jackson wrote:

Lethal dynamite has made Sunday, September 15, 1963, a Day of Sorrow and Shame in Birmingham . . . .

Four or more who were attending Sunday School . . . were killed. Their bodies were stacked up on top of each other like bales of hay from the crumbling ruins left by the dynamiting. They were girls. They were children . . . . They were victims of cruel madness, the vile bigotry and the deadly hate of unknown persons.

. . .

Neither the living who were bombed nor those who have not been bombed should give ground to the bombers.

Nothing short of justice and accountability would do, Jackson wrote. As he often did, Emory Jackson served as a voice of conscience for a world that sometimes seemed to not have one.

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