Forget Me Not

Harrison Ocie Jones born 1920 lynched 1951

Back in Dallas, on a downtown sidewalk, Jones says he would agree to exhume his father's remains, and he's sure his family would, too.

"I would like to see the truth to be told at least," he says. "Maybe those guys are dead. If they are dead, they are dead. I'm 57. I imagine they are dead. I don't know...The truth is the truth. Let it come out. Why not?"

He doesn't doubt the story told by his uncle and other older family members, but now that he's heard it, he'd like to find out for sure if it's true. Surprisingly, Jones is not angry or seeking some sort of revenge. If anybody can actually be tied to the killing, Jones doesn't even expect a trial.

Jim Parsons lived for a short and miserable time in Ladonia, Texas, a place where in 1951 white men beat to death a black sharecropper, he says. Parsons says the killing and subsequent lack of action by authorities changed the course of his life.
Mark Graham
Jim Parsons lived for a short and miserable time in Ladonia, Texas, a place where in 1951 white men beat to death a black sharecropper, he says. Parsons says the killing and subsequent lack of action by authorities changed the course of his life.

"They didn't get away with it. I mean they really didn't let it get out, but you have to live with yourself," he says. "They knew it was wrong. They probably suffered all their lives knowing that it was wrong. Oh yeah, they had to have known. I mean everybody knows right and wrong. You don't go through with life like that."

Parsons is less magnanimous.

"Those men at the Nuremberg trial, the men were getting up in years, and still they are bringing those Nazi war crimes to justice, and some of them are 85 or 90," Parsons says. "I do think there needs to be some sort of punishment for it; I don't think we should ever let things go. There needs to be some closure brought to it. For all of us who have had this on our minds for 50 years.

"I think they have a right to know what happened to their father. What is the truth? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a car did fall on him. Whatever it is, I think we have a right to know."

The younger woman on the porch, who lived her whole life in Fannin County, maintains that her faith is in a power higher than local authorities.

"I was young at that time...I was maybe a little older than they was, but they just thought this is just the way that you do it. You just beat 'em, hang 'em up, and don't say nothing about it," she says. "But now, see, everything is turned back. God's going to really fix this thing, baby."

Fanny Lou Hamer's quote and the folk song lyrics were taken from Trouble in Mind by Leon F. Litwack.

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