Saturday, July 24, 2010

Paris Hilton or Roosevelt Curry?

Who the hell is Roosevelt Curry? The question I imagine most people would ask, especially if they saw his name next to Paris Hilton.

Well, I just learned that he is the grandnephew of Lena Baker.

OK, then who is Lena Baker? You ask. And more importantly what do either of them have to do with Paris Hilton?

Mr. Curry and Ms. Hilton can directly link who they have become specifically from whom they descended...one could say Roosevelt Curry is the ying to Ms. Hilton's yang. More about that later.

Forgetting about Ms. Hilton for a moment, let's focus on Lena Baker, a mother of three, who the state of Georgia electrocuted (one of 20 women executed in Georgia, however the 19 other women hung until they expired) for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery over sixty years ago. Her white court-appointed attorney did not call one witness in her defense, and after a one-day trial she was convicted of the first-degree murder of E.B. Knight and at 44-years old, on March 5, 1945, she was strapped into the electric chair knowing she was about to be painfully reduced to a corpse.

However, thanks to her grandnephew, Roosevelt Curry and John Cole Vodicka, director of the Prison and Jail Project, a civil rights organization based in Americus, Georgia, Ms. Baker was issued, in 2005, six decades after she was put to death, a formal pardon, posthumously, by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Not an easy task, as anyone who has dealt with our justice system can tell you, Mr. Curry dedicated much of his time, effort and money to succeed, all of which demanded he sacrifice a great deal more than what most of us would find tolerable.

Prior to taking this issue to court Roosevelt Curry, glancing down at the concrete marker, the inscription simply lists her name, her date of birth June 8, 1900 -- and the date of her death, May 5, 1945.

"We want to put up a better stone so it will always be taken care of so nobody has to watch over it. A better one. A marble one. We are trying to give her the funeral that she never had, the moment that her family was cheated out of. There are a lot of things we want to do for this funeral, she still was a human being. She was a mother. She was somebody's daughter and also she was a child of God. I wish I could get a million women up in there because this is a woman's fight. This is a woman's fight because the lady's rights was violated." -- Roosevelt Curry
Keeping in mind the difficulty involved, most descendants of people executed decades ago, would not go to the trouble Mr. Curry did to exonerate the great aunt he never met, so you can be certain Lena Baker is only one among many innocents who endured state sanctioned execution.
“This case should be regarded as more than a wrong from a bygone era.

There are still a lot of racial overtones in what goes on in the legal system today. We still have a system that is not foolproof, where racism still plays a part. -- John Cole Vodicka, Advocate for prisoners' rights and the founder of the Prison and Jail Project.
The Lena Baker Story recounts her tragic story.

Now, back to Paris Hilton. Everyone and their great grandmother know who she is. Why is that again? Oh yeah, she was born into an extraordinarily wealthy family and had sex in front of a video camera.

Roosevelt Curry's name doesn't even pre-fill the GOOGLE search box.

We claim to value hard work, strength of character, a sense of morality etc. however it's clear we reward the exact opposite. The Roosevelt Currys and John Cole Vodickas of the world, society's true heroes, will continue to be marginalized by the same people who preach on and on about the decline of Christian morality.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  13:08  

Our nation plants Paris Hilton seeds expecting to harvest Thomas Edison and the like. We reap what we sow.

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