What’s in a name?? In the flesh we all bleed the same and in print we all read the same; correct? Not necessarily so perhaps. For instance take notice of how names of a demographic peer group, all children of Atlanta, are presented: CHRIS TUCKER, THOMAS DeCARLO CALLAWAY, JONATHAN SMITH, ANDRE BENJAMIN, PATRICK BROWN, MICHAEL SANTIAGO RENDER; juxtaposed to: Edward Smith, Alfred Evans, Milton Harvey, Yusuf Bell, Angel Lanier, Jeffery Mathis, Eric Middlebrooks, Christopher Richardson, Latonya Wilson, Aaron Wyche, Anthony Carter, Earl Terrell, Clifford Jones, Darron Glass, Charles Stephens, Aaron Jackson, Patrick Rogers, Lubie Geter, Terry Pue, Patrick Baltazar, Curtis Walker, Joseph Bell, Timothy Hill, William Barrett, Eddie Duncan, Larry Rogers, Michael McIntosh, Jimmy Ray Payne, John Porter and Nathaniel Cater.
As suggested by the appearance some fame and acclaim are attributed to few that are written differently. (Feel free to research who they are). Conversely, the latter would be reduced to regular folk status. In a perfect world, we would be trying to differentiate the talents that separated the bold names from those perceived as plain folks. Instead we have an obvious answer as to why which is those first 6 people stand out is that they were given the opportunity to grow and glow by just living. Literally. The latter 30 names had their wings clipped way to soon. Who knows what they could have become? United in infamy as the collective group of victims of the Atlanta Child Murders. Between the years of 1979 and 1981 the events in Atlanta had African American parents throughout the nation transfixed in fear at the thought of those occurrences spreading.
Over the past 5 weeks a riveting series, “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children,” has been offering an unprecedented look at the abduction and murder of at least 30 African American children and young adults. The series was able to merge the fear and anger I felt as an adolescent living it with the fear and anger I feel as an adult having to still live it.
Executive produced and directed by the Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmakers Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre, and Joshua Bennett for Show of Force shared in the vision with fellow Executive Producers John Legend, Mike Jackson, and Ty Stiklorius for Get Lifted Co. in association with Roc Nation; the film was presented through HBO. Sam Pollard shared the process, “I had just completed in 2017 a film about Maynard Jackson, and I screened it at a film festival in North Carolina where Josh Bennett from Show of Force saw the film and thought the small segment I did on the Atlanta Child Murders could use a deeper exploration and maybe be a documentary series.”
Mayo Chermayeff continues, “We all put together a proposal and brought the series to HBO. We all felt that the case was still raw and for many unfinished. Justice had not been served and that made us go deeper to better understand and present the racial biases, the flawed investigation and the realities of the original trial––that made this case so intriguing and relevant.
The cliff note version of the case has attributed the bulk of the murders to one man: Wayne Williams. As the sole culprit to this horror was a realization that was hard to swallow despite his conviction. The film crystalizes and strengthens those hypotheses. Sam: “I came into the project thinking Wayne was guilty of all the murders. Now I am not so sure he did any of them.” Mayo further elaborates, “As we looked into each crime individually, we found that there were viable alternate suspects and viable alternate theories that existed for almost every case. I think that the pedophile rings and the neighborhood predators that were preying on these young and vulnerable victims––clearly put some of them in harm’s way. I believe that the material uncovered about the Sanders family and the Klan involvement is real––and to watch the footage of the appeal, and see the number of times that law enforcement claimed “they could not recall” was absolutely stunning.
The Wayne Williams trial and appeal was deeply unfair and unjust. Did he commit a crime? Maybe. Was he given fair trial? Absolutely not. The city and law enforcement wanted this to end ––and when they found a suspect that they could close the books with, they did.”
Atlanta over the years since this case has blossomed into one of the most influential cities in the nation. That was indeed by design and nothing was going to foil the plans. Yet this chapter of the city’s history is too hard to ignore. So, what does a re examining of the cases really mean? Mayo suggests, “This is a community that was torn apart by this series of crimes. For many they have healed from these wounds over many years and moved on, but for the families they will never find closure for the loss of their child.”
I believe that the intention of the mayor (Keisha Lance Bottoms) and the chief of police (Erika Shields) looking back into these crimes is genuine. I believe that they both gave very frank interviews about their intentions and beliefs. But will the manpower and the funds and the evidence exist to pursue such an endeavor to a conclusion? Likely not.
Our opinions on this theory might differ, but one thing is conclusive as Sam concludes, Sam: “‘Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children’ is probably the most complex look at that horrific period in Atlanta’s history that has never been tackled like this before.” Kudos to the team!!!
Oohhh, by the way…..Last we checked Wayne Williams was still under arrest in February, so who are we blaming for Ahmaud Arbery?
Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.