ATLANTA – Activists marched Saturday near the site where four black sharecroppers were killed in 1946, hoping publicity about the lynchings would cause someone to step forward with information so the deaths could join the list of civil rights-era cases being prosecuted.
A white mob pulled two men and two women from a car near the Moore’s Ford bridge about 40 miles east of Atlanta, dragged them down a wagon trail and shot them. No one has been convicted in the killings.
Organizers hoped Saturday’s march, which drew about 100 people, would raise awareness about the murders so the case would have a better chance of proceeding to trial.
“The biggest problem with the cases is the evidence is gone, and most of the witnesses are dead,” said Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Nobody back then would come forward and say anything against the white power structure.”
But the political climate in the South has shifted and convictions on civil rights cases are now possible, said Dees, who represented the widow of murdered Mississippi civil rights activist Medgar Evers during the trial of former Klan leader Sam Bowers.
“Juries now are more persuaded to find guilt with less proof, and I’m speaking as a criminal defense lawyer now,” Dees said.