Interview with William Bradford Huie


William Bradford Huie:

Alright, but your, your white jury, if Hanes had represented James Earl Ray in Memphis, because about 40% of the people are black in Shelby County, Tennessee, anticipated that uh, about at least 3 of the 12 people on the jury would have to be black if they tried Ray. And then, but Hanes still wanted to plead him not guilty, which he did uh, in the arraignment, and wanted to go to trial with him, because he thought he would have a chance to get a hung jury. He thought he could put one or two white men on the jury who would say, "Well, I'd vote with you, but I just don't believe this case has been proved, you see, I don't believe this man's guilty of killing Dr. King beyond a reasonable doubt." So Hanes thought that he had a chance to get a hung jury. He may very well, it might have happened that way. But your, today, uh, this, this is, this has happened as far as your urban juries are concerned. Um, the white jury, well, even in the old, the worst crime that was committed after Black Monday in Alabama was the ritual castration of a man named Edward Aaron. And I wrote about—the Klan seized him. They didn't even know who he was. They just went out to find a black and castrate him. And they just happened to find a man named Edward Aaron, who was 33 years old, had been in the war in the Philippines, and he didn't even know what the movement was about. He didn't—he wasn't anti-anything. But he just happened to be walking down the road on a Saturday night and they took him, and in a ritual they castrated him in a Klan lair outside Birmingham. There were six Klansmen present. Unfortunately for them, two of the young Klansmen got sick during the castration and uh, threw up. And the two of them went home and told their wives about it, and their wives marched them down to the police the next day. Aaron was also let out and he had—then they came back and looking for him, and he had to hide in the creek and he was almost bled to death. Bu he was taken to the VA hospital and he was going to die for about a week, but he recovered. He's living now because we later got him a, a pension, a man, a Senator of New York who's in, uh, who's no longer there, a Republican Senator, um, helped me and a black preacher in Birmingham get a pension for him. And then later when I wrote about his story, a beautiful story, he's living now in Dayton, Ohio, right now, although I never revealed where he was living at the time. And as a result of the story I wrote in TRUE, I gave him the $3,000 that TRUE paid me for the story, and about $24,000 was contributed to him. So I set up a fund for him, about a $30,000 fund. And uh, so he's lived—uh, uh, he's been a semi-invalid because of the injuries he, he sustained, and so forth, but God, he's sad, his story will just make your hair stand—anytime you want to—now the point I'm going to make is that all four of those men were tried in Birmingham, all before all-white juries. And they were charged with what's called mutilation in Alabama law. And uh, all four white juries gave each one of those Ku Klux the maximum sentences, 20 years in prison. No doubt whatever, all white. And this was in 1958. And uh, then later they—they, they were expecting George Wallace to become Governor, and they expected Wallace to pardon them which he later did, and uh …