Can I Do This?

I’m having a small moment of existential doubt about my goal of solving the integration-era bombings. Will I be able to do this? I do not fucking know.

One thing I’d like to know is how many bombers you could have expected there to be in Nashville at that time? My understanding from reading about Birmingham–a city so thoroughly bombed that it was known as “Bombingham”–is that most of those bombings were done by the same Klavern (which I believe was #13, but I’m not looking at my notes, so don’t quote me on it), which means that you probably had forty guys willing to plan violence and, even then, maybe only half those who would do it. Birmingham had a sustained campaign of bombing.

We had a sustained campaign of cross-burnings, but we only had the three bombings.

We know that a couple of folks left here and “became” violent bombers.

Should I be focusing on them and whether these were their actual first crimes? Should I be focusing on the men arrested? Is it too late? I don’t know.

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2 thoughts on “Can I Do This?

  1. Yes You Can! My goodness, B, it looks you’ve already gathered the materials to reconstruct an amazing story. I’m looking forward to reading it, and I don’t expect it to be a ‘finished product.’ There will never be justice for the victims or accountability for the perpetrators, so it’s more than valuable enough, I think, to paint as complete and detailed a picture– whatever your scope– of what was being done and (as best you can determine) by whom.

    Consider William Pepper’s “An Act of State.” It’s a fascinating and exhaustive recounting of what came out of King v. Jowers, and its value transcends any legal remedies (that we know ain’t forthcoming, anyway).

    Go for it.

  2. If I were your research project advisor, I would tell you pretty much what Sam just said. It’s a worthwhile project right now and will remain worthwhile even if you never conclusively nail down whodunnit. (Relax, historians rarely walk away with a conclusive slam-dunk solution; if you do, wowser, but if you don’t, that’s not really the name of the game.) Your project has got weight and significance as a work of local historical research, as a contribution to the scholarly literature, and as a meditation about race, violence, and why we keep being surprised by white supremacy. (Seriously, the stuff you’re doing on women as the connective tissue of supremacist organizations and their north-south reach is revelatory.)

    You are a highly skilled researcher who can not only understand the past on its own terms but critically analyze what this story means for our own moment.

    Well worth doing. Rock on.

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