Down the dirt road they came, four black cars. It was about midnight on a hot night near our farmhouse one mile south of Ladonia, Texas, in July 1950. My father's first thought was that it was probably a group of my high school football team coming to play a prank on me. But then, when the car lights were turned off, my father thought this might not be just a case of high school mischief.
When the cars stopped in front of my grandfather's first home, a silver cloud of dust swirled up around the cars and my father could see four men getting out of the first two cars. They went to the front door and, without knocking, they drug Harrison Jones, our African American field hand, out of bed and still in his underwear; they threw him in the back seat of the second car. The cars started up again and after they passed our house fifty yards or so, their lights came back on and disappeared down the road.
They took Harrison Jones to the railroad tracks east of town and bludgeoned him to death with blunt instruments of some kind. Then they poured whiskey over his body in an attempt to show that he was drunk and got run over by a train. There were two problems with that story: Harrison didn't drink and the trains didn't run that night.
There was no police report, nothing in the newspapers or radio. There was only a rumor going around that Harrison had looked at a white high school girl's legs. If looking at a girl's legs carries a death penalty, 95 percent of the men worldwide should be put to death. But, I digress.
The pathologist's autopsy report showed that Harrison Jones died of pneumonia. Even with Mr. Jones' many broken bones and a fractured skull, no one questioned the doctor's report.
Today, I think the question is, "Who murdered Harrison Jones?"
The answer is, "I did and all of the people who knew something and said nothing."
Fifty years later, my conscience hurt to me so bad that I asked an investigative reporter from the Dallas Observer to meet me in Ladonia and get to the truth and get it in his newspaper. For more details of this true story, it is in Chapter 3 of my book, Hillary and Other Bullies. And you can also view the story as the paper's feature story in the Dallas Observer at https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/case-closed-6389916.
From this experience of silence when I was in high school, I have promised myself that I will not be silent again when I know justice is not being done. I am currently being fined for attorney fees of $10,224.50 for trying to bring justice to the Trafalgar Stump Dump lawsuit. Considering the cost of the wounded that I helped evacuate out of Vietnam, that price is small in comparison. I have promised myself I will never be silenced again. Freedom is not free.
Lt. Colonel, Jim Parsons (RET)
Editorial on 01/08/2020
Print Headline: Once silent to injustice but never again