With the pipe bombs being sent last week in the mail, followed by the unspeakably horrific shootings in the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings last Saturday, I reread two powerful columns by editors of the Atlantic Constitution written back in the day.
** On October 14, 1958, the largest synagogue in Atlanta was bombed. The response by Ralph McGill, editor of the Atlantic Constitution, won him a Pulitzer Price. McGill’s word from 1958 ring eerily true for today. Today, journalist Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida, reflected on McGill’s 1958 column.
Among McGill’s piercing words are these: “Let it be understood that when leadership in high places in any degree fails to support constituted authority, it opens the gates to all those who wish to take law in their hands.”
** Another famous and equally poignant editorial, also in the Atlanta Constitution, appeared in the early fall of 1963 and was written by Atlanta Constitution editor Eugene Patterson. It is titled: “A flower for the graves.”
The column by Patterson appeared following the September 16, 1963, bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, in which 4 young African-American girls attending Sunday School (3 of them 14; 1 of them 11) were killed.
Patterson’s column so touched people who read it, the famous CBS evening news anchor Walter Cronkite asked Patterson to read his column aloud on the evening news.
With our mid-term election just days away, Patterson’s column from 55 years ago definitely is worth reading.