Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Battle of Athens

1946.  Athens, Tennessee.  Surrounded by a paid company of thugs in the jail, Paul Cantrell, Pat Mansfield were counting ballots, stealing another election.  Business as usual.  Outside was Bill White with the militia ...

“Would you damn bastards bring those damn ballot boxes out here or we are going to set siege against the jail and blow it down!” Moments later the night exploded in automatic weapons fire punctuated by shotgun blasts.

When it was over, Cantrell and Mansfield had fled, the militia kept order for a few days.  The state came down, an honest ballot count happened, the reform candidates assumed office.  Time passed.

There are no signs or monuments to commemorate the event; people have forgotten or do not wish to remember. But the graying manager of a local store, a friendly sort and so gentle with his grandchildren, squeezed off round after round at the  jail that night. And the driver snoozing behind the wheel of his cab,  not really caring whether he catches a fare or not, helped wrap and toss the deadly bundles of dynamite that sailed through the night air. You can bet they remember.

And so should we.

blog comments powered by Disqus