Today, James Seale pleaded not guilty to charges that he was involved in two murders in 1964.
JACKSON, Mississippi (Reuters) - A former Ku Klux Klan member pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges in the 1964 murders of two black teenagers in Mississippi, in a case that highlights violence used by white supremacists during the civil-rights era.
Marshals escorted James Seale, 71, to and from federal court in Jackson for an initial hearing on kidnapping and conspiracy charges.
A three-count indictment says Seale trained a shotgun on the teenagers while his companions beat them. Then they attached heavy weights to the pair and threw them alive into the Mississippi River.
It will be interesting to follow this trial and listen to the evidence. And perhaps the best justice in the case may not be that which will be reserved for James Seale, if he is convicted. Rather, it may be the fact that he pleaded before a black judge today (a female one at that) and even in Mississippi segregation is as illegal as what he did defending it. Black people have the same rights to use the restroom, eat at restaurants and go anywhere that white people do. James Seale lived to see that happen in spite of his efforts.
That isn't to say that there is no more progress to be made, because there is a great deal that still has to be done before we can say that race is no longer an issue in America and that the ugliness of that era is behind us (both in the south and in the rest of America). But this trial shows that no matter how long it takes, justice can be served.