It’s May 22nd, which is Harvey Milk Day in California – how tragic that it took 31 years and a major movie before he was so recognised. Even worse, on this day in 2002 a Birmingham, Alabama jury unanimously found then-Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Cherry guilty of the murders of Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair (aged 11-14) in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church’s Sunday school class in 1963; twenty-two other children were injured.
Obviously the “worse” part here is the 39 year delay between the bombing and conviction, and the fact that the original trial of co-conspirator Robert Chambliss found him guilty only of possessing dynamite, although there was enough evidence to later convict Cherry and co-conspirator Thomas Blanton.
Justice delayed is still justice delivered, but those men had decades of freedom denied to their victims, and for all those years there was no accounting to comfort the families, friends and community of the girls. But they waited, continued to advocate, remained active and hopeful and clear that there would be an outcome, eventually.
Our timeframe has not been nearly as long, though well and truly long enough, and the fighting still isn’t over, for our Executive, ANF, and our Mental Health colleagues. In the short-term justice will be done – there will be a satisfactory MH EBA outcome. Eventually, and the acute public EBA will be balloted soon (no, I don’t know when, but I know it’s coming, promise).
And then: in two years, 8 months and one week Victorians go to the polls. In 921 days this government will be called to account for its decision to prioritise short-term profit over the welfare and well-being of the public it was elected to serve. Without a strong health care system, without a robust education sector, Victoria has an unnecessarily bleak future, and that’s before factoring in any economic downturn. It might seem a long way away, but this countdown’s 147 days old, and that time’s just flown!
Note: this entry was originally posted on the ANF (Vic. branch)’s Facebook page on 22/5/12