Monday, March 02, 2009

Beauty and terror


Natchez was a wonderful place to grow up -- full of interesting people and places. We loved participating in the spring pilgrimage every year -- photo above is of me and my brother Kevin, all dressed up for the pageant.

But there was a dark side to Natchez in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement. My father was the town's pathologist and coroner and every Saturday night, it seemed, he was called out to attend to some brutal murder scene. Because I was a small child, I thought these murders were a normal part of life. I had no idea that the era I was growing up in was an especially violent one.

My father would come home with pictures and tales of each slaying -- a bomb planted in a car, a man set on fire or shot. It was horrifying.

When we would drive past rural gas stations, my father would say, "That's one of their meeting places."

"Meeting place? Of who?" we would ask.

"The KKK," he'd reply.

I recently came across some additional photos of Natchez during my youth. I debated about putting these up, but if these guys decided it was OK to march in public in Natchez in the '60s, then they can march again in this blog. I'll make a concession and not put their names here, even though they are printed on the back of the photos.




10 comments:

Gwen said...

Elizabeth, this is amazing. I can't believe the citizens tolerated the KKK parading around in full regalia. I can imagine everyone, not just African Americans, lived in fear of reprisal. This is very timely and thank you for having the courage to post the truth.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you!

I couldn't believe it when I found these pics - especially that they would walk up and down the street openly and let themselves be photographed -- they must have been so sure that they were right.

eagle1 said...

I don't see ANY landmarks on those photos that prove they are in Natchez. I actually see just the opposite. Not saying they aren't from Natchez, god knows we had our share of that nonsense, but some of those photos look like an entirely different town altogether.

eagle1 said...

kkk photo #2. It appears as the street takes about a 45 degree turn towards an intersection where there's a large billboard. Nowhere in Natchez do we have a street that does that. I know the photos were taken in the 60s but that photo specifically looks more like New Orleans.

Shawn said...

I agree with eagle1. Although I do not deny the dark side of Natchez history, it is clear that those photos were not taken in Natchez.

Elizabeth said...

Hmmm, that is interesting. The names of the back of the photos are guys from Natchez so maybe that's what the link is.

Shawn said...

Not only is the angle of the street in the photos wrong, but it is far too wide for Natchez. If the photos were taken in Natchez, it would have to be somewhere downtown. The buildings in the photos caught my attention first. I tried to figure out where they are and couldn't, because the photos were taken elsewhere. Who are the people in the pics?

Elizabeth said...

Couldn't I get sued or something if I put their names up?

eagle1 said...

Elizabeth, this is my opinion about the people in those photos. My hope is that I don't know any of them. But to be fair, we don't know the history or even the present regarding the people in those photos. The people in those photos may have complete regret for what they did back then, believe it or not, many do. They could be totally reformed. My point is, unless they committed some heinous crime (or you have proof they did) I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Of course, some would argue simply being in the clan was the crime. Regardless, I wouldn't if I were you but hey, I'm not you. Natchez is a small small town, it's not just the person in the photo that may be affected, but the many around that person. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't see any positives for releasing names unless they are connected with some vicious crime.

Elizabeth said...

I agree with you Eagle1. Thanks for writing such an insightful comment.