Ku Klux Klan Shakes Anniston, Alabama
From Huffington Post
ANNISTON, Ala. – Down highway 202 on a patch of land not far from where old Forsythe’s grocery store used to be, there’s a dead end that holds the buried skeletons of a small Southern town.
This place along the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is full of old bones. They are buried behind the walls of downtown Anniston’s fading brick storefronts, beneath the cracked pavement where innocent blood was shed, and in the memories of black folks who have lived across the railroad tracks most of their lives.
On last Thursday morning, as the sun shone down that lonely road, Josephine Hawkins (pictured below), a lifelong resident of Anniston, sat on the edge of a guardrail and remembered the hurt that happened here on this swath of beaten-brush 50 years earlier.
"It was unbelievable what they did to them people," said Hawkins, 79, her voice rising just above the hum of nearby traffic. "It was like a terror, just all tore up. There was belief and disbelief all at the same time. But we knew something bad was going to happen, so much was building up."
Back then the Ku Klux Klan and staunch segregationists ran the city — they did so brazenly, and sometimes with the heavy hand of violence. The outside world, outside of the Deep South at least, was made painfully aware of this on May 14, 1961.
It was Mother’s Day, at this very spot. A Ku Klux Klan mob smashed the windows of a Greyhound bus carrying a group of Freedom Riders and tossed a Molotov Cocktail through its shattered glass, setting the bus ablaze.