1946 GEORGIA: A JIM CROW EXECUTION
Family fights for long-denied justice
Editor’s note: The family of James Lee Allen asked for help in getting a posthumous pardon for Allen from the state of Georgia. In 1946 Allen, a Black teen, was executed. He was 14 years old when he “confessed” to the crime of raping a white woman.
Please send letters to: Terry E. Barnard, Chairman, Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE, Suite 458 Balcony Level, East Towers, Atlanta, Georgia 30334. Also, please send a copy of your letter to the FS (contact info at end of letters) so that it can be forwarded to Allen’s family. Below are excerpts from a letter his niece sent.
My uncle, James Lee Allen, became the victim of Jim Crow disfranchisement when he was unlawfully judged by a white jury (in violation of Norris v. Alabama).
He was then, subsequently electrocuted on Nov. 15, 1946, at the age of 15,* for allegedly raping a 41-year-old white woman.
He is the youngest person electrocuted for rape in Georgia.
His execution, like many before and after, reeks of injustice and malfeasance. Hence, the reason for this correspondence; we, his family, cannot resurrect him, but we can seek redress.
This request is based upon the violation of 14th and 15th Amendments and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875; his youth (14 at the time of the alleged rape and 15 at the time he was sentenced to death); the police brutality in extracting a so called “self-confession”; Georgia’s tribunal bias (in their defiance of the 1935 Norris v. Alabama Supreme Court ruling, which made his trial and conviction by a white jury illegal); and epidemic discrimination in the legal lynching of innocent African Americans.
The thought of the terror he experienced trapped in that electric chair still haunt us and move us to tears.
When my grandmother, Mrs. Lena B. Allen, received his body from Reidsville’s State Prison; burn marks on both sides of his forehead marked the placement of the electrodes in carrying out his execution.
Today, since exoneration, justice, mercy and closure were extinguished on Nov. 15, 1946; we, his family, the Allen, Arnold, Buchanan, Davenport and Palmers, seek reconciliation.
We request the state of Georgia grant a posthumous pardon for the cruel, nefarious, illegal electrocution of our beloved James Lee Allen.
Elizabeth Palmer, Albany, N.Y.
I am one of the new readers to your newspaper. You are doing excellent work!
Great writing. And the paper’s printed layout looks great. Keep up the good work!
Steve O’Neill, San Francisco
ROSENBERG FUND FOR CHILDREN
Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from a fundraising appeal. For more information on the Rosenberg Fund for Children go to www.rfc.org.
June 17 is the anniversary of my grandparents’ [Ethel and Julius Rosenberg’s] executions. As it approached, I reflected on the date’s significance.
Many members of the Rosenberg Fund for Children network have firsthand memories of the grief and fear the executions elicited among left-wing progressives at the time — a community that felt very much under attack in that moment in history.
Sixty-three years later I still hear from people who were shaken to their core, but whose response was to resist the repression they were experiencing.
Recently another community in this country was targeted in an incomprehensibly heinous way with the shooting at Pulse in Orlando. But they’re also standing strong, and allies are standing with them.
The mission of the Rosenberg Fund for Children is to aid families who are on the front lines of the fight for justice, dignity, and well-being for all, despite great personal risk.
Today, more than ever, I recommit myself to the mission of protecting and embracing them.
Jenn Meeropol, Easthampton, Mass., www.rfc.org
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
An op-ed in the Seattle Times by the Jewish Federation conflated anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. It is part of a national effort to destroy the human rights movement for Palestinian rights.
The misleading and big lie being circulated is that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is anti-Semitic. Hatred of Jews is commonly called anti-Semitism even though Arabs are also Semites.
The BDS campaign has nothing to do with Jew hatred. It is a defense of people whose land has been stolen by Israel, and who are summarily beaten and murdered.
I am a second generation U.S. Jew. I am not a “flimsy cover” for BDS as some writers’ charge. I have spent decades organizing against fascism and decades organizing for Palestine.
BDS is under attack because it is successful. Israel is a key pawn for U.S. policy, keeping the oil rich rebellious Middle East under their military thumb. That is why the U.S. funds Israel lavishly.
Israel pretends to speak for all Jews. It does not.
Now is the time to speak out against injustice — not cover for it as many shamefully do.
Adrienne Weller, Seattle
Wanted: left ideas
I am a prisoner and I am interested in any reading materials you could provide me. I appreciate the work you do disseminating the socialist message.
Chris Bistryski, Monroe, Wash.
Editor’s note: Thanks to our readers, we are able to provide gift subscriptions to prisoners.
The FS welcomes your feedback and opinions. Letters may be edited for length. Please write to 5018 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98118, or e-mail FSnews@mindspring.com.
To listen to this and other articles from this issue, click here.
*Revised Oct. 17, 2016: James Lee Allen was executed at the age of 15. The print version of the Freedom Socialist listed his age as 16.