A long tragic story

I attended a book signing recently. I almost didn’t go because my back was aching quite a bit. Chris and I had been invited to attend this event by the Connie Williams, wife of the author, Ronnie Williams. Connie and Ronnie are friends of ours. They both attend our church, and Ronnie is an associate pastor there. This blog isn’t a happy-make-you-smile kind of offering. It’s a story that started back in 1960, when things were drastically different for Black folks living in the Southern part of the United States. Of course, as you read this, you might think of recent incidents that strike an air of similarity.

Ronnie’s book is titled, Markham Street: The Haunting Truth Behind the murder of My brother, Marvin Leonard Williams. I decided not the read the book before writing this blog. I’m familiar with the story; however, I’m not even going to write about my recollections. What I do want to write about is the stage presentation that was done at the book signing. It was an emotionally steering event. Ronnie read several passages from his book. When he was about to read a particular passage, his emotions got the best of him. He asked his younger son to come up and do it for him. This passage was from a chapter in the book called, Mother’s Words.

What’s all this drama about? Let me not proceed a step further without telling you. Back in 1960, Ronnie’s brother Marvin Leonard Williams was arrested and murdered by the police in Conway, Arkansas. The coverup of the murder started immediately and the journey from 1960 to the writing of Ronnie’s book has taken over sixty years with no justice to be had.

The facilitator for the stage presentation began by asking Ronnie and a friend of his, Fred Allen, who also was onstage, questions about their high school basketball days. There was lighthearted and sometimes comical banter with this topic. The moderator, who was white, was also a basketball player and a contemporary of Ronnie’s. I must admit, I became a bit impatient with this part of the presentation because I was anxious to hear the details of one of the darkest stories to ever occur in Arkansas history. However, even the basketball tales had elements of racism etched in them. Fred Allen, who was a star basketball player, is now being considered for induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Fred shared a story that painted a picture of how racism prevented him from receiving word of several basketball scholarships. He graduated high school from what was then one of the newly desegrated schools in the South. His basketball coach, who was white, received letters from several colleges interested in recruiting him for their basketball team. Fred was shocked to discover later that any colleges had an interest in recruiting him.

Beside the tragedy of the murder of Ronnie’s brother, there were two trials in the decades that followed Marvin’s murder, a criminal one and a civil one. Neither offered decisions that were satisfactory for the Williams family.

There’s a question that has lingered in my mind for years, and it will until I exit this life: How can any human being end the life of another? I honestly think I would be bothered if I took the life of another in self-defense. I could be wrong, but I think most of us on the planet think likewise. Somehow, I think if we didn’t, death from violence of every kind would take a much greater toll than it does now.

If you don’t, I would like to put a plug in for Ronnie’s book here: Markham Street: The Haunting Truth Behind the Murder of My Brother, Marvin Leonard Williams. The book can be purchased on Amazon.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

9 thoughts on “A long tragic story

  1. catterel April 29, 2022 / 7:50 pm

    It would be comforting to say “Those were the bad old days” but shockingly, they aren’t. It’s horrifying to think of murder, even more so to be aware that a young person could be murdered simply for something so inoffensive as skin colour. Like you, I can’t understand how anyone can deliberately end another’s life.
    On a different note, my father was called Ronnie Williams (short for Roland) and his older sister was Connie. I wrote about this a long time ago on my blog https://catterel.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/rhyming-couples/ – so I smiled when I saw the names of your friend and his wife. I hope his book is a resounding success.

    Liked by 3 people

    • oldandblessed April 29, 2022 / 8:17 pm

      Communicating with you and others makes it clear that we live in a very small world.

      Liked by 1 person

      • catterel April 30, 2022 / 11:06 am

        That’s both scary and comforting – it’s good to know there are kindred spirits on the other side of the world all the same.


  2. Linda Lee Adams/Lady Quixote April 30, 2022 / 3:14 am

    I read this several hours ago and can’t stop thinking about it. I remember those days, sixty+ years ago. I did not understand the prejudice then and I don’t understand it now.

    Memoir is my favorite genre. I have downloaded the ebook sample on my tablet, and will read it as soon as I get the kitchen cleaned up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oldandblessed April 30, 2022 / 12:35 pm

      I’m confounded that there are those who want to stifle knowledge about our history It’ s important to know that our history, U.S. history, comes from both bright and dark corners. Knowing history, helps us improve moving forward.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Linda Lee Adams/Lady Quixote April 30, 2022 / 4:19 pm

        I agree. Knowing and understanding our history also helps us understand where we are today.

        This works even with our personal histories, as I have realized through writing my memoir. It’s still a work in progress, but I have learned so much through the simple act of writing down my life story. Even if I never get it finished and published, it’s been well worth the time and effort to remember and record my history.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. CG April 30, 2022 / 5:19 pm

    Ah this tragedy and so many like it are heartbreaking and the worst I think is that we cannot even say it is from the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rangewriter April 30, 2022 / 6:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. And also for shining a light on your friend’s new book release. Like you and the others who’ve commented, I’m perplexed by the act of snuffing out a life. I have a hard enough time doing that with animals when I know the time is right for them. But I know that at times in my life I’ve harbored hatred that made me think I could snuff out a life. Whether I could have actually done so is another matter. But just having the thought is frightening to me now.

    What is particularly perplexing is how easily some people (children included) can plan and carry out mass murder. There is surely evil in humanity. And some people either don’t have a self-regulator or have lost the courage to use it.

    Liked by 1 person

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