Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sorry We Killed You

She’s a black maid who was held by a white man against her will as a slave. He threatened to shoot her if she attempted to leave.

When he raised a metal bar to hit her, she grabbed his gun, which he was using to intimidate her, and shot him. Today that would undoubtedly be termed self defence. But in 1945, after a one-day trial before an all-white all-male jury, she was sentenced to death on the electric chair.

60 years after her death the Georgia (USA) Board of Pardons and Paroles has decided to
pardon Lena Baker. However, they still refuse to find Baker innocent of the crime. Anyway, they plan to present the pardon to her descendants.

The Pardon Board took 60 years to concede that denying her a pardon in 1945 was a grievous error, as there were mitigating circumstances. They could have gone further by saying she wasn't guilty and proclaimed her innocence as well.

John Cole Vodicka, director of a prison-advocacy group said:

"Although in some ways it's 60 years too late, it's gratifying to see that this blatant instance of injustice has finally been recognised for what it was - a legal lynching."

She wasn’t the only coloured person to be legally lynched by America’s notorious white supremacist past.

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