Currently making the rounds for the 2016 United States Presidential Election is this letter from the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, to Dr. Ben Carson on the subject of global warming. In short it informs Dr. Carson that there is evidence of global warming, and that an example of that evidence is included on the pictured thumb drive for his convenience. Although polite snark is always fun to see spread around, this reminded me of an earlier moment of snark that took place in 1976 in the state of Alabama, when a staunchly pro-civil rights and human rights Attorney General named Bill Baxley got to play with a supremacist organization.
The incident that sparked the confrontation was Baxley announcing he was reopening a closed investigation into the 1963 16th Street Church bombing – specifically because Baxley was convinced there was more than enough evidence to actually prosecute the individuals responsible for the attack. In response he got this charming letter:
The part where he is named “an honorary NIGGER” is an extra level of charming. This letter came in 1976, when the tumult of the 1970s was winding down but the nation was still struggling with very real internal stability issues from the early 1970s. Bluntly put, it was not unreasonable for Baxley to fear for his life. The extremist organization that sent this letter was connected to violent groups, mainly the resurgent Ku Klux Klan, so his response was rather brave and utterly delightful.
What makes it doubly wonderful for me is the fact that he put it onto the official stationary of the Attorney General’s office and logged it publicly as a formal communication.
Oh and Baxley did successfully complete his prosecution. I believe on the grounds he was a solid government official and a damn brave one, I’ll close with a period image of him.