Martyrs, Civil Rights and Quenette Shehane: The Tale of Birmingham

Vulcan has stood tall over Birmingham’s collapse

Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches and with it the usual pronouncements and the glorification (deification?) of the Civil Rights struggle, though this righteous struggle is far from over. The continued battle for Black equality that transpires on a daily basis will be showcased on ESPN with the discussion of the Image of the Black Athlete, attempting to gloss over the thuggish personalities that comprise the bulk of the NBA and NFL rosters.

It is sports that provide -simultaneously – the best and worst examples of Black people for the inhabitants of Black Run America (BRA) to digest. For the past forty years, hearty helpings of the former have been all that those who watch sports decided to feast upon, though the spectacular talents of Black athletes is without question the only positive example one can find from the Black community.

The state of Mississippi hopes to introduce a required Civil Rights course for every grade level, K-12, in the next year. Nothing is more virtuous then learning about where 21st Century man has evolved from, the antiquated racism of the past replaced with a tolerant understanding for all races.

We once joked about the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the lack of any historical Black figures that the two members of Wyld Stallions went back in time to retrieve. If this movie were made today, it would only be Civil Rights figures that these two figures went back in time to see and bring to the future so they could pass history.

Kids today learn only of fictional Black heroes in school, the rest of history littered with the exploits of oppressive white males who dared retard the inevitable creation of Black Run America (BRA). Every Black person who faced adversity in this long march to joyous extra-equality has become a martyr in some capacity, with a number of them enjoying virtual sainthood.

On Monday we celebrate the ultimate hero for BRA, Martin Luther King Jr. Those who fail to sufficiently grovel before this deity dare to incur the wrath of BRA’s most vigilante enforces of civility.

Civil Rights ushered in a new era for the United States, the most vivid representation of this being the complete abandonment of major United States cities to Black people. The train stations that once deemed Black people second class citizens were the first to go, white flight sealing their fate to demolition.

We could discuss for hours the decline of a variety of cities across the nation, but today we focus on one that represented a South Africa for Black people. Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife even compared this city to South Africa and the fate of both nations under Black rule are inextricably linked.

In a sane society, Birmingham would be a thriving metropolis. In the world governed by BRA, it is a crumbling city whose sky scrapers stand resolute as monuments to a people who once lived, died and thrived there.

You will hear a lot about martyrs of the Civil Rights movement, of those who died to make this country a better place. But the people you will never, ever hear about are those whites who were the victims of this extra-equal class that Disingenuous White Liberals (DWLs) strenuously protect today.

Birmingham is a city that once had a thriving business sector, though almost all Fortune 500 companies have moved their company headquarters out of the town. The city school system, nearly 100 percent Black, faces a $30 million budget shortfall.

Like DeKalb County in Georgia, the city will be forced to close many schools. Those Black people capable of fleeing the dying city are forcing the lily-white suburbs of Birmingham to move even farther out, though the poor credit scores keep many of these families from affording homes in these thriving cities.

Perhaps no better building or structure in the country serves as a metaphor for all that is wrong with BRA then the once magnificent Legion Field. Situated in an area of Birmingham that the Marines who battled in Mogadishu would be fearful of, the stadium was once the home of legendary Iron Bowl between the University of Alabama and Auburn University.

Both schools have since stopped playing the annual game there, with the stadium antiquated and falling into disrepair. But once, it resembled those edifices built at the World of Tomorrow fairs, heralding a new era of unimaginable prosperity.

The Civil Rights victory signaled the abandonment of Birmingham to the victors. The spoils were short lived.

Legion Field has a become a deadly joke, with one writer at The Birmingham News wondering if the city deserved a college football bowl game. Comments from those who attended the game failed to mention the Black aspect of the situation:

The city did a good job of moving the traffic to the stadium but once you get there you have to deal with the people that live around the stadium screaming at you and almost jumping in front of your car to get you to park in their yard. After I parked, I stopped and talked to 4-5 kentucky fans that were still outside the stadium sitting in chairs in the same yard I was parked in. Two were staying with the cars because they did not expect the game to be in this type of area. Like I said, I support the bowl each year but it is getting harder and harder to do so.” — bamamac2112

• “John: “Brusque and unapologetic” describes most service-type workers in Birmingham. Go to any food establishment and you can see it.

Having attended an event at Legion Field, we at SBPDL can tell you the area around Legion Field is all-Black, save for the gated campus of Birmingham Southern. A veritable fortress, Birmingham Southern once had a libertarian attitude to the Black people who encircled the campus in their domiciles. This was until the rape and murder of a white coed there named Quenttee Shehane:

On a cold evening in Birmingham 30 years ago, a recent college graduate volunteered to go buy salad dressing for a party on campus. Leaving the nearby convenience store, she was abducted.

Her nude, frozen, bullet-riddled body was found the next evening.
 
The trip to the store on Dec. 20, 1976, ended with the murder of Quenette Shehane, but it would mark the start of the victims’ rights movement in Alabama, a crusade led by her mother, Miriam Shehane of Clio.
 
Easing the pain
Victims of Crime and Leniency, or VOCAL, was organized in 1982 after Miriam Shehane had begun to find that the overwhelming pain of her daughter’s killing was compounded by her experience as the three men charged in her abduction, rape and murder were tried in court — twice each for two of the men, three times for the third.
 
During the five years after the murder, she had to relieve the agonizing testimony in seven trials. She didn’t want others to endure the same and began tirelessly lobbying for laws aimed at helping the families of victims of crimes.
 
Despite all her success in easing the pain of others, three decades have not lessened her loss.

“It’s not worth it,” she told The Dothan Eagle in a recent interview. “I’d rather have my daughter back.”
 
Quenette Shehane, 21, had graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a degree in elementary education. She had visited her family in Clio and was back on campus for a party with friends. She would soon be enrolling in graduate school at Auburn University and looked forward to a career teaching.
 
Justice served?
But around 5 p.m., with darkness falling, she was abducted in the parking lot of the convenience store, her car loaded with Christmas presents was stolen, and her life was taken.

After the seven trials, the man believed to have pulled the trigger, Wallace Norell Thomas, was sentenced to death and executed in 1990. Eddie Bernard Neal was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Jerry Lee Jones, convicted three times, had his death sentence commuted and is eligible for parole again in 2008.

All three men mentioned above are Black. The only memory of Quenette Shehane is her mothers continue crusade on her behalf, and the fence erected around Birmingham Southern to keep out the population. 


No school system discusses her death in text books, no college devotes hours of lecture time discussing what her death represents. Only a silent fence surrounding Birmingham Southern is a reminder to those that she once lived.

Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of other people like Quenette Shehane have had their stories censored, because it doesn’t conform with the world view as advanced by DWLs, Crusading White Pedagogues and the adherents of BRA.

Birmingham is now the killing fields, where Black-on-Black crime is an every day occurrence. Worse, it operates a school where only 52 percent graduate high school and few dare discipline students:

Something is very wrong when:
— Students in Birmingham schools are being arrested at a rate that far exceeds the arrests in similar- or larger-sized school systems like Jefferson County.

— Principals and teachers are calling on police officers — known as school resource officers — to break up schoolyard skirmishes or calm down angry students.

— A 16-year-old boy is pushed to the ground, sprayed with Mace and handcuffed for yelling a curse word in a school hallway. 

— Young kids — 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds — face criminal charges for behavior that would not be considered illegal outside the school building.

Yes, something is terribly wrong. But, as News reporters Marie Leech and Carol Robinson reported last week, city and school officials know the current city schools disciplinary system is broken, and they’re trying to fix it.

How serious is the problem? Consider that Birmingham, with about 25 percent of the public school population in Jefferson County, accounts for 82 percent of the arrests that are referred to the Jefferson County Family Court. And if an 18-year-old is arrested at school, even for a minor infraction, he ends up in jail, not at Family Court.

The reality check comes from Brian Huff, the presiding judge at Jefferson County Family Court: “(W)e’re arresting children for offenses no one should be arrested for.”

Police records show that more than 250 arrests have been made in Birmingham schools from August through February. During the same period in the larger Jefferson County school system, there were only 54 arrests.

The solution starts with simple common sense. As Huff points out, the school system’s zero-tolerance policy “is a horrible idea. It should be judged on a case-by-case basis.”

 Birmingham is a Black city. It’s problems are based on that Black population. A fence around Birmingham Southern is because of the actions of three Black people who preyed upon a white girl whose name is scarcely remembered today.

She played for the losing team in the struggle team in the Civil Rights struggle, only because she was seen as collateral damage.

During the media bombardment of Civil Rights talk, we at Stuff Black People Don’t Like remember Quenette Shehane. Like countless others, she has no voice to represent her in BRA. She is just another uncounted statistic.

Birmingham is another statistic, lost in the struggle as BRA was created. Legion Field, the home to memories still fresh in many peoples mind, will be torn down one day since it is obsolete and in an area of Birmingham few dare travel into with armed guard.

The dead have no voice, unless they were killed by venomous white racists. Then and only then do they become an asset to the continued propaganda used to maintain BRA’s hegemony. Everything else is liability.

On Martin Luther King Day we honor the memory of Quenette Shehane. We remember those that BRA deems collateral damage.

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