Unjustifiable Chapter Six: Point 14

The killing of Bonita Carter in 1979 changed Birmingham, and its leadership. Protests following her death forced the city to reshape its police department, four decades before Black Lives Matter made its greatest impact.

It was a decade after Black civil rights leaders had gathered in Birmingham to issue a list of demands, or 14 points, to their white peers in Birmingham, seeking acknowledgement that Black people were still treated as second class citizens.

They pointed out longstanding police violence against Black residents, that Black people consistently received less courtesy and respect from police. That white people got a benefit of the doubt as Black people got a bullet.

Today, conversations across the country are almost the same. On the final episode of Unjustifiable, John Archibald and Roy S. Johnson discuss what has changed, and what Bonita Carter still has to teach us.

Reckon Radio presents: “Unjustifiable,” an investigative series from Pulitzer-prize winning columnist John Archibald and Roy S. Johnson examining an overlooked moment of civil rights history in the heart of the South. Subscribe on Apple PodcastsSpotifyAcast or your favorite podcasting app.

Below is a full transcript of Episode Six.

Roy S. Johnson: Bonita. Beatrice. Carter. That was her name. That is her name. In 2020, she would be 61 years old.

Jasmyn Story: “I want to thank you all for being here today. My name is Jasmyn Elise Story. I serve you as the deputy director of the Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity. And before I begin, I want to take time to honor those among us and gone, who poured love into Bonita while she was on this earth, her friends, her family, her classmates, her neighbors. I want us all to remember that love was poured into her as she poured love into others. And the absence that that creates deserves our pause in reverence. So for the family and friends in the audience today, would you please let us know that you are here, stand, clap, raise your hand. We want to honor you. And for those of us here to honor Bonita, let’s give a moment of silence for those who survived without her name.”

Johnson: In October 2019, four decades after Bonita Carter died, a few politicians, family members and friends gathered in front of the store that used to be known as Jerry’s in a little community called Kingston, 25 blocks east of the city center in Birmingham, Alabama. They came to put up a new sign, to better tell Bonita’s story. To better honor her.

John Archibald: That sign was shrouded in black cloth, to start. But when the veil fell it showed Miss Carter’s picture in black and white, the same one my old colleague Solomon Crenshaw got from her family on that surreal day after her death in 1979. Bonita smiles in the photo, in a crocheted cap that looks like lace. So young. Her graying sisters look on through hugs and tears. The sign reads:

Johnson: “Bonita Beatrice Carter was shot and killed by Birmingham Police Officer George Sands, responding to an altercation at Jerry’s Convenience Store in the Stockham neighborhood near Kingston. Carter was two blocks from the home she shared with her parents when this tragic shooting occurred. Bonita was a member of Parker Memorial Baptist Church and graduated from C.W. Hayes High School. Her death sparked civil unrest and weeks of protest in the streets of Birmingham. Bonita Carter’s death would forever change politics in Birmingham, largely influencing Dr. Richard Arrington to run for mayor and ultimately becoming elected as the first African-American Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama.”

Uche Bean: “Good morning. Thank you all for joining us this morning. My name is Uche Bean and I serve as the administrator for the office of social justice and racial equity. It is an absolute honor to have you all here today. I want to introduce you to my boss and one of my favorite people in the world, Mayor Randall Woodfin.”

Randall Woodfin: “Good morning. I am very happy to stand before you all this morning in the area that I have known for quite some time. But today we stand in memory of a woman who would become a martyr for our community. That was 1979. Today is 2019 an all you have to do is look at the current headlines to see that Bonita’s heartbreaking story feels all too familiar in today’s climate. But if we’re being truthful, Bonita’s true legacy is that she would be a catalyst for change here in the city of Birmingham. 40 years later, we still mourn Bonita’s death. It’s a reminder that the evils of racism can bear fatal consequences. But I think as we think about this tragedy, triumph rose. A stronger and more united Birmingham, one that stands in defiance of its racist past. One, that values life of all colors, creeds, religions, sexual orientations and other affiliations. Bonita Beatrice Carter is a name synonymous with hope. And so today we’re here to dedicate this sign in her memory.

“Bonita. Beatrice. Carter. Say her name.”

Johnson: I’m Roy S. Johnson

Archibald: And I’m John Archibald and this is “Unjustifiable.” Not just the story of Bonita Carter, but how attention, and intention, changed a community. How thoughtless and careless and racist policies brought us to the world we now live in, where the weight of the past sits on all our shoulders. 

Johnson: And on some of our necks.

Archibald: How it shouldn’t require death for a world to respond to injustice. But sometimes … it does. 

We started this whole project asking what it was about Bonita Carter that caused such momentous upheaval in her city, a city long known for segregation and brutality and racism. I should say that I — a white guy — started by asking that question. I imagine you, Roy, a Black man, may have had a few thoughts on that.

Johnson: Enough was enough. Enough is enough. John, you actually conceived the idea for this podcast and began your research long before we knew George Floyd. Before we knew Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor. Before what seems to be an awakening of sorts for white people in this country, who had so long been unwilling to see what we, as Black people, knew about racial inequality. To feel what we’ve felt. Maybe the question now is how the story of Bonita Carter can inform and inspire us, all of us, to action — now, after generations of so-called justified police killings, after having to teach our children – especially our sons, including my son – how to survive an encounter with a police officer, after decades of feeling powerless, feeling unheard, feeling as if our voices didn’t matter.

Archibald: It sends chills up my back to think that I’ve never had to have that conversation with my kids. And that’s something people take for granted.

Johnson: And my son is 26 years old and I still feel that chill whenever he goes out.

Archibald: Catherine Conner grew up outside Birmingham and wrote her doctoral dissertation on the politics of the city.

Catherine Conner: My name is Catherine Conner and I have a PhD in American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m a historical expert in race, capitalism and politics.

Archibald: She was in it up to her elbows — reams of documents and untold hours of deep academic research and thought. I asked her what we could learn from Bonita Carter in the 21st century, and she didn’t really hesitate.

Roy: She went all the way back to April of 1969, ten years before Bonita was killed, when a group of prominent Black Birmingham citizens wrote a list of 14 points to their white counterparts, imploring them, as so-called “men of goodwill,” to use their influence and authority to see the wrongs of the past and present, and to  — and this is a quote — “immediately correct all of the long-standing injustices suffered by the Negro community in Metropolitan Birmingham.”

Archibald: Bull Connor was gone from Birmingham by then, but he was president of the Alabama Public Service Commission still, and so revered in some parts that in 1971 the Alabama Department of Transportation named a highway for him, as an “outstanding citizen.”

Johnson: A highway outside Selma, of all places. Talk about a slap in the face.

Archibald: Catherine Conner wants to make it clear that she is not related to Bull Connor, by the way. They spell their names differently and everything.

Conner: When you grew up in Alabama and in Birmingham at the time, especially with the last name I had, there was always these associations of ‘oh are you related to Bull Connor’ who unleashed violence against Black protestors in the Spring of 1963.

Johnson: Think of 1969, though. Martin Luther King had been dead less than a year when those Black civic leaders called for white leaders to see, as King had done from a Birmingham Jail in ‘63. They called for 14 very specific changes.

Johnson: One: They called for an immediate end to police brutality — immediate — at the city, county and state levels.

Archibald: They called for a citizens’ review board, for better relations between the police and Black citizens.

Johnson: They called for Black judges, and the inclusion of more Black people in city government and on policy-making boards. They called for sensitivity training for police officers, for the immediate integration in squad cars, particularly in those patrolling Black communities, and there was more. This is Catherine Conner:

Conner: “Its final point I think is really kind of telling. And it gets to something that we’ve been talking about for the last decade, at least in the last decade in America.”

Archibald: She quotes that critical last point here:

Conner: “Finally, we know and can document the fact that police brutality continues in the Negro community. We also know that there have been few, if any, cases where policemen have been reprimanded, indicted or convicted for brutality in the Black community. It is our considered and corporate judgment that an acknowledgement on your part of the fact that police and sheriff department personnel do in fact treat Black people with less courtesy and respect and that they do in fact use undue physical force in arresting Blacks is an essential first step in the process of bringing about an immediate and urgent end to this system of dual treatment of citizens.”

Johnson: It’s pretty basic. In Point 14, they were simply asking for courtesy. For respect. Acknowledgement. They were making that final point — perhaps it’s really just a starting point — a half century ago, before Neil Armstrong took a giant leap on the moon, before Woodstock. Before Bonita Carter. Long before George Floyd. Why are we still asking?

Conner: “And so they’re saying those things 50 years ago. They’re saying those things in 1979, 10 years after that statement, and they’re saying them now. And I feel like just being unable to recognize that that is a truth, that has long been a truth, that white people in power can’t recognize that. And our systems of power, both economically and politically don’t address that problem is something that we are continuing to face and will face until we change those systems.

So, what can we learn from Bonita Carter? Even though you can have more police who are African American on a force, and you can have a Black mayor, that’s not going to solve the problem. That is not going to solve the problem for how and why white officers shoot Black citizens. It’s not going to solve the problem of, of joblessness and unemployment that was affecting neighborhoods like Kingston in 1979.

You can have these symbols change, but it’s never going to bring about fundamental change unless, there’s a recognition by those in power that there’s an unequal society at play. And we’re having that conversation repeatedly.”

Archibald: It’s worth noting now that many of the things asked for in Points 1-13 have come to pass in Birmingham and Jefferson County. The mayor is Black, the police chief, the District Attorney, the sheriff. There have been community policing programs, integration of the force, better training. But other things have happened, too. The population has shifted, and white people fled for the suburbs in the wake of desegregation, and even more after Arrington was elected. There are still major problems with crime, and schools, and poverty, like there have always been, but the police department is more measured than it was in decades past. But it is clear there is still a lot of work to do on Point 14.

Johnson: You might remember Brian Burghard of FatalEncounters.org in Episode 3. According to his data, there’ve been 24 intentional use-of-force police killings in Birmingham in the 21st Century. That’s not counting car chases or off-duty crimes. The math is pretty easy — a little more than one police killing year. That’s a dramatic improvement from an historical view.

Archibald: Birmingham requires a little explanation sometimes. Here’s Uche Bean again, who introduced Mayor Woodfin a little earlier.

Bean: “You know, it’s funny sometimes when I have conversations with people who don’t live here and they live in areas where the police force makeup is different than Birmingham, or even the city’s makeup is different than Birmingham. I have to almost give them a precursor and an understanding as to where we are when I’m talking about the city and who makes up our police force. When we have these conversations about police shootings, and then I’ll bring up the Bonita Carter incident and they’ll ask me like, what’s the difference now? And I’m like, yeah, the police force is different because of the things that were put in place.

Are there still issues? Absolutely. Nothing’s perfect. Right. But I think that you have to celebrate your wins, even if there are some losses, you have to celebrate the wins. And I think that it’s a clear difference from 40 years ago.”

Archibald: “This may seem like a weird question, but say you’re with your son growing up, do you feel safer driving through Birmingham than you do in one of the suburbs?”

Bean: “Yes, honestly, I do. And that’s only because of experience, not because of a preconceived thought or what I’ve heard. I went to Altamont, one of the best schools in Birmingham. I was one of two Black kids that graduated in my class. Before that I went to Advent. I have been around, um, privileged white children, my whole life. And their families. And they’ve been kind to me. So, I didn’t feel, well a few times I felt, you know, racism, but, overall that’s who I grew up with. I’ve been stopped by the police on my way to school in Forest Park. I’ve been stopped in Mountain Brook a few times, headed to a friend’s house. Me, I was driving a Volvo most times.

Roy: Mountain Brook is almost exclusively white, the wealthiest city in Alabama. Forest Park is a wealthy, largely white section of Birmingham.

Bean: “I’ve been asked to step out of my car on my prom night while we were in Mountain Brook. So, you know, I’ve had experiences that have been less than kind with police officers outside of Birmingham. My experiences with police officers in Birmingham have not been that way. They’ve been normal incidents like, ‘Hey, you know, license.’ But I felt different ways. Like they didn’t believe… I had a cop ask me when I was on my way to school.. It’s like a Thursday morning. It was like seven o’clock in the morning. I was like, I’m headed to school. They were like, ‘what school?’ I said, Altamont. They were like, ‘you go to Altamont?’ Questioning me. I was 16.”

Johnson: A lot of reform took place in Birmingham. But Point 14 remains unfulfilled. Unjustifiable will return right after this.

-Ad Break-

Archibald: Before we left, we were talking about ways Birmingham has addressed policing. We met Brian Burghart earlier. He’s the guy who founded Fatal Encounters in 2012 to track police killings in a way that hadn’t been done before. He collects them and stores them in a database. He has counted 28,000 in the 21st century alone  — 1,000 more since we talked to him in 2019.

Johnson: Just reading all their names — just their names — would take us five or six hours. At least. Now, many of them may have done wrong. Many might have been looking for trouble. Though none deserved to be killed as a matter of routine, like so many were in Birmingham in the 1940s and ‘50s. You never heard most of their names.

Voice: Michael Anglin Jr. 

Jovan Young. 

Rickey Gross. 

Haines E. Holloway-Lilliston.  

Kawanza Jamal Beaty. 

Danzel Boyd. 

Anonymous. Anonymous.


Archibald: This isn’t just about Birmingham, or the South. It is epidemic across America for centuries. Since slavery, lynching, Jim Crow, since the Black Panthers protested police brutality in the 60s. There’s no excuse for not knowing that. Not knowing that aspect of American history. Our history. But so many don’t.  I asked Brian what has changed.

Burghart:If you look at Ferguson, the reason these places are historical hotspots is because nothing really changed. Baltimore, nothing has really changed. Los Angeles. Los Angeles police department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department, and CHP are among the highest numbers of deaths in the United States… You know, I wasn’t around for these deaths, plainly but, in having researched 27,000 of them, I start to question many things about this narrative, about things improving in the United States. So that’s, I know it’s a really cynical thing to say, but I bet I’m not the only one saying it.”

Archibald: “Well, uh, forget improvement for a moment. Do you feel like we’re changed at all? I mean, are we going in the wrong direction?”

Burghart: “Um, I see things that suggest we’re going in the wrong direction. I notice that names of officers are withheld more frequently, and names of person killed is withheld for longer and longer periods of time. And part of that I believe is to put distance between the act and the announcement so that people who might be tempted to, you know, cause disturbances are less likely to because people get over it, you know, after a certain period of time. I do these updates week to week and I notice just creeping up over the years how many are ‘name withheld by police’ for a longer period of time. And then because the media has a very short attention span, sometimes they just drop out and that person has been, you know, disappeared. You know, in the way that we used to talk about Russia disappearing people, that person’s been killed by the government and his name was never released. And so, the facts of his or her demise are never released. That person, it’s as though they never existed. And that’s a really spooky place for a country to be in.

Archibald: If you look at the index cards in Birmingham from the 30s through the ‘70s, and the press clippings that coincide with them — however fawning they may be — they at least named names of the shooters and the victims. It’s rare today — Ferguson, perhaps being the exception — to imagine a citizens panel, like the one convened for Bonita Carter, hearing sworn witness testimony in a public forum. Information these days is more often like a state secret.

Johnson: The way Burghart sees it, police violence proliferated as the mythology of law enforcement grew. Police shootings went long unquestioned, in part, because they were so celebrated by Hollywood and pop culture.

Burghart: “There’s a reason it happens and … people like to think that it’s a bad guy. You know. it’s a movie. It’s all a movie. You know, these guys getting killed by police, you know, it’s a good guy shooting a bad guy. The other factors, you know, can be squishier, but I see in the press all the time how these things are not described in real terms, like the officer arrived at the scene. Where, where else do you use words at the scene? Except in movies.”

Archibald: I hear the words of that Todd Snider song, “Tension,” right now.

“After the bad guy, killed off all the under-developed characters, the good guy put a bullet right through his head. And the screenwriter stood up and told us all the loose ends had been tied. Justice is irrelevant; violent problems need violent solutions. ‘Cause in America we like our bad guys dead. Perferably after some kind of kick ass car chase or something.”

Archibald: Man, I love that song. Todd is the poet laureate of me. So for decades cops pointed to Bonita Carter and shrugged, and questioned her character. White people suspected that she must be a bad guy.  They asked why she got in Buster Pickett’s car in the first place. That’s how I remember it. But it’s a little more complicated. Bean has thoughts about that.

Bean: “Even with her friends telling her don’t do it, don’t do it come back. Like what would, what would push someone to do that? It’s a mindset, the mentality that has been created over years.”

Archibald: She can relate.

Bean: “I remember riding in the car w my daughter’s father. And he’s in the military. Right? So he served in our country still to this day. … we were not even in Alabama, we were in another state and we were just driving. I mean, doing nothing. We were just driving down the street and I remember the police coming down the street, kind of behind us, but not really behind us. And then, um, they sped past us. they were going somewhere else. Right. He pulled over and I was like, you know, like my heart kinda jumped a little bit, but he pulled over and he kinda, you know, was taken aback a bit.”

“And I was like, are you okay? And he was like, I don’t know why. I just got scared. That right there showed me that it didn’t matter that he served the country. He’s never been arrested. He’s never been in trouble. You know, he went to, um, to the Alabama School of Fine Arts. He’s an artist. Okay. And he serves in the military, right. Grew up in a good neighborhood, both parents and still has some fear of the police and being pulled over and not being able to explain that to a police officer that may have, uh, a prejudged idea of what Black man is in America.”

Johnson: We have so far to go, John, trying to heal old wounds, and we’re still looking for that elusive Point 14.

Bean: “It’s very simple. I won’t say in every case, but I will say in many cases that there’ll be a de-escalation tactic for people that are not Black and Brown, but Black and Brown people do not get that de-escalation chance. And that split second of a choice of criminalizing a Black person versus a white person or a person not of color. I think that’s the problem. Um, unfortunately there are a lot of factors to that, of course. And it can all be pushed down to systematic racism and how the country was built and how, even when we talk about terror lynchings, the reason for lynchings was to protect white women. That was the background is the criminalization and the, uh, brutality of the Black man and how you have to protect, you know, the town and the residents from the scary Black people. So we understand the historical reference behind why Black people are often criminalized. But I think when the victim, the person who cannot speak for themselves, the person who was killed and their story was not allowed to be told and they get criminalized, I think that’s a problem. And we’ve seen it countless times again.”

Archibald: It all goes back so long. And it is undeniable. Based on irrational white fear. Based on the weaponization of that fear. I remember reading through the letters Mayor David Vann received in the aftermath of Bonita Carter’s death. Catherine Conner sent them to me, actually. One came from an Avondale woman three weeks after George Sands shot Bonita.

Archibald: On the side of the letter, written horizontally, it said “they are outsmarting the whites.”

Johnson: Wow. That’s hard to hear, though not surprising. Not a bit. Irrational white fear birthed a legacy of hyper-criminalized Black men. Of dead Black men. Tamir Rice, a young boy criminalized for playing. Trayvon Martin, made into some kind of ‘thug’ while the grown man who killed him was depicted as the victim. George Floyd, for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill, cried “I can’t breathe” as Minneapolis officer Dereck Chauvin’s knee crushed his neck for 8 minutes 26 seconds. As he called out his dead mother’s name.

Archibald: I wrote a story about Bonita Carter recently, and the comments from readers below it were brutal. Uche Bean noticed.

Bean: “The comments under your article and other articles when they were discussing Bonita Carter and seeing people literally being, I mean, easily writing, ‘Oh, she was a criminal. No one wants to talk about the police officers being killed.’ Let me make this very clear. There are people that are out here to protect and serve and they do just that. And we are thankful, and I think people sometimes don’t want to thank police officers for going out there and doing duty, right?

“But we have to start discussing what the police force was created for. We have to discuss the history of the police force. We have to discuss the tactics that are used when it comes to de-escalating and when it comes to apprehending people and detaining people. We have to discuss that. If we don’t discuss it and be very honest and truthful about the training and about, uh, the lack of empathy and the lack of understanding — the historical reference between Black folks and the police — none of this is going to change.”

Johnson: We started out by asking “why?” Why did the police shooting of Bonita Carter make such a powerful impact?

Archibald: Why Bonita Carter? What was it about her that made her special? We asked Brian. I, for one, was a little taken aback by the answer.

Burghart: “I think you’ll find that, um, aside from the fact that she was a woman, that is going to be a completely typical case. It just sounds like, you know, many thousands that I’ve looked at. It’s not, it doesn’t sound unusual except where it was. I mean, if that had happened in, Chicago, nothing, if that had happened in Miami, less than nothing, you know.”

Archibald: “So what about here made the difference?”

Burghart: Your history with, with, um, with racial antagonism?

Archibald: So, she was just like thousands of other cases. And people were able to see them through her. Things began to change. Because people finally demanded it.

Johnson: Enough was enough, as I said before. After all those bombings, all those beatings and lynchings and shootings, enough was enough in Birmingham in 1979. The death of a 20-year-old who sang in the church choir and laughed at hats through convenience store windows and could not help but smile, even in a world that often did not smile back. In a world that was often ugly. Killing Bonita Carter was a last straw. Alas, it was not THE last straw. There would be more, sadly and tragically. There would be George Floyd. The tragedy that was Bonita Carter galvanized and released the pain, grief and anger Black Birmingham had long held inside. It was also a tragedy from which white Birmingham could not look away. It sickened everyone. Well, almost everyone.

Archibald: Let’s go back to Uche Bean.

Bean: “Um, I think Birmingham has a very distinct history in dealing with clear racial strife and them dealing with it and being resilient. And by “them,” I mean the Black residents of the city. And then I think it comes to a point, um, somewhat with life. Like you can deal with something up to a point and then when you decide that you can’t do it anymore, that’s when the change occurs.”

Johnson: Richard Arrington — he had just turned 85 — stepped to the microphone at that sign rededication last year. He spoke of the changes in Birmingham, changes within the police department, and Bonita Carter’s legacy.

Arrington: “For me, a senior citizen. Every time I have driven by this site, the Bonita Carter tragedy resonates with me. I thought many times that the city of Birmingham failed Bonita. One of our long-time employees with a dubious work record and to whom the city had given the power of arrest and the use of deadly force and who remained a police officer, despite a dozen citizen complaints of abuse, ended up taking Bonita’s life.”

Archibald: But it also changed everything, turning the city known for civil wrong—uncivilized wrong—into a civil rights city.

Arrington:Her death united an oppressed Black community and led her to demand and to go to work for freedom. It gave the city its first Black mayor, which has been followed by, I believe, four more Black mayors. It changed this city’s labor force at the time that the Bonita Carter incident occurred, only 12% of the employees in the city of Birmingham were Black and they were doing important things. But most of them are cleaning the halls and picking up the garbage and working in the streets we had at that time. One, we had just one Black department head. Since that time, it’s been a transformation and you see that today in a dynamic young mayor. Sity employees here, we all part of the legacy of Bonita Carter.”

Johnson: The killing of Bonita Carter was a true moment in time. Those rare moments must be seized, and it was.

Arrington: “You know, some events in history, we simply say they are attributed to time. You know, we said, ‘well, it was about time. It was going to happen anyway.’ And the way I say that sometimes myself. Sometimes people say, ‘but you know how I, how did you do that, mayor? How did you get to be the mayor?’ I say it was just time. Well, that’s not always true. Time can be so neutral. It’s what you do with time that matters. And that is what’s important about the Bonita Carter incident. Some events in history are attributed to a particular event that took place. I think Birmingham’s transition to a better city, began with the death of Bonita Carter. Thank you.”

Archibald. There is much to do with our time.

Bean: “I want to say things are changing because I see an acknowledgement and honestly, crazy enough, I think that’s, that’s just what we wanted in the beginning. You know, don’t say you don’t see color, don’t turn a blind eye. The blind eye is what continues the cycle. It feeds it actually. Your refusal to even acknowledge that these things are going on and these inequities exist, if you don’t at least acknowledge, there’s a problem, then you can’t even begin to fix it. So, I think the first step at this point is acknowledgement. Yes, they’re still obvious cases of inequitable treatment of different cases and different situations that have occurred. But I believe that people are now becoming more aware of that. And that’s the only hope that I can have at least in my generation. And then my hope is that when my children and my children’s children are here, that it’ll go from just awareness to actual actions. And that’s going to take people, unfortunately, it’s going to continue to take tragic events. There’s going to be more lives that are going to be lost. There’s casualties in war, and this is war. It’s a war in my mind of being just and being right and everyone being literally equal, not the fake equal that was created when Black people were still slaves, but the actual, real equal that everyone is supposed to be equal. At this time, they’re not, but my hope is that they will.”

Archibald: In the end we return to the beginning. To that night of tragedy on an early Summer evening. And to Jasmyn Elise Story’s powerful words. They stick with us still.

Story: “I ask all of those who joined us today to turn to someone near you. And I want you to turn to that person and say, I promise to tell Bonita’s story. And as you think about this promise, I want you to remember that this is not a promise for this moment. It is a promise that should continue throughout this day. Tell her story throughout this day. Tell her story. Throughout this year. We are honored, Bonita, to be in the presence of your new memory spot, a place to remind us that we are dedicated to honoring you every single day. Thank you all.”

Voice: Richard Anderson Jackson, Nelson Collins, James Edward Jenkins, Eugene Whitfield.

Johnson: Dead

Voice: Harrison Lee, Sam Sims, Eddie Lewis, John Brown

Archibald: Dead.

Johnson: Just like…

Voice: Michael Brown

Johnson: Just like…

Voice: Tamir Rice

Johnson: Just like…

Voice: Breonna Taylor

Johnson: Just like…

Voice: George Floyd

Johnson: And just like…

Archibald: Bonita Carter

Archibald: I worried, once, because I did not fully understand the story of Bonita Carter, and how her death changed a city and a community. I worried because I recalled the details of her killing incorrectly.

I know now that one could never understand the anger for Bonita Carter — or Floyd or Taylor or Rice or anyone else — by focusing only on the seconds that led to their deaths.

That anger was built over generations. It is justifiable.

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