A black man shot for an attempt to use whites-only bathroom in 1966.
A black life is always at risk. It was so 50 long years ago and it is so now. Young black Alabama student Sammy Younge Jr. could not even imagine that trying to visit a toilet at a gas station could cost him his existence.
Though Marvin Segrest, a 67-year-old white night attendant perfectly could. Being ‘allergic to black people’ Segrest was not going to let Younge ‘desecrate’his whites-only bathroom at any cost.
The argument turned into a quarrel an hour before midnight on Jan. 3, 1966.
Living in the southern territory where white minority was desperately trying to deprive black people from their voting rights Segrest knew no better proof-point than to reach for his gun.
Later he would say he thought Younge was armed, as he mistook a golf club Sammy took from a bus luggage rack for a gun. The only witness of the situation, a white bus driver, would side with Segrest.
Younge tried to run away but he was shot in the back of his head. The Macon County sheriff, who was also white, saw the case as a “dispute,” not “one of these civil rights cases.”
It would have been just a story of the past if Segrest hadn’t been arrested and indicted for second-degree murder solely after an outburst of students’ protests and demonstrations in Tuskegee.
After Segrest was tried and acquitted peaceful protests grew more violent. They resulted into an appointment of black sheriff and introduction of African-Americans in the elective offices.
What is the moral of the story? We still have lots of black people dying over white supremacy and racial bias, segregation isn’t gone yet. But we need to remember that our voices would be heard if we say the same things together and most importantly, at the same time.
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