Thomas Moore’s quest, to see justice for his murdered brother and friend, ended on Friday with the sentencing of Klansman James Ford Seale to three life terms in prison. It took Moore 43 years to witness that justice.
Seale was convicted in June of the 1964 murders in Mississippi of Charles Moore and his friend Henry Dee. By all accounts, that conviction would never have happened had it not been for the dogged determination of Moore, a longtime Colorado Springs resident.
And, though Seale’s conviction and sentencing has generated widespread media attention, just two years ago when the murder investigation was reopened, the editor of the newspaper where the crimes occurred publicly announced in a signed front-page editorial that she did not plan to publish any stories about the investigation into the heinous murders – which she described as “1960s racial incidents.”
Keep reading for Webb’s editorial and excerpts of Moore’s response.This was the editorial that Editor Mary Lou Webb published in the July 28, 2005 Mississippi Franklin Advocate:
“The Franklin Advocate has weighed the issues and decided not to ‘re-visit the 1960s racial incidents which took place in this county and Southwest Mississippi.
“The editor sees no new evidence – no reason – to put a new generation through painful memories.
“In less than two weeks Franklin County children will be in school — preparing for the future while making new friends. How precious those friendships will grow as time passes.
“Halfway around the world our young people are dying because their young people were not allowed to forgive and forget.
“Let that not be the legacy we leave our children.”
When Moore, now 63, saw that editorial in 2005, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He responded with a lengthy, passionate letter to Webb – which was never published in the Mississippi newspaper.
Here are some excerpts from Moore’s letter:
“Your desire and efforts to censor our angry, bloody past, remove it from history, misinform and misguide our children, will only fan the small flames of justice I have helped to rekindle throughout Franklin County this summer,” Moore predicted.
“You see no new evidence because your eyes are closed. Listen to the people of Franklin County and you will not only see new evidence, you will hear it, smell it, and breathe it in.
The palpable fear I found in the people of Franklin County, black and white, is all the evidence needed. You know that justice must be done to begin the process of removing this fear.”
Moore, who served two tours in Vietnam, and also in Korea and in Panama, addressed Webb’s comparison of rural Mississippi to the theater of the war on terror.
“I say we still have terrorists living … in Franklin County,” Moore wrote.
“What is the difference between someone who blows themselves up to kill their enemy and someone who chains two souls to a jeep motor and throws them into the Mississippi River after torturing them and whipping them?
“These same people terrorized the black and white communities through coordinated efforts of cross burnings, propaganda and whisper campaigns, beatings, murders and explosions.
“The Klan and its supporters were and are as fundamentalist in their beliefs and actions as the suicide bombers weve seen in Iraq.
“Mary Lou, there is no difference.”
On Friday, Moore was in the courtroom, as Seale was sentenced to three life terms in prison. To his brother’s murderer, Moore read the following prepared statement:
“I hope you perhaps spend the rest of your natural life in prison thinking of what you did to Charles Moore and Henry Dee and how you ran for a long time but you got caught.
“I hope the spirit of Charles and Henry come to your cell every night and visit with you to teach you what is meant by love of your fellow man.”
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org