While we are grateful in this holiday season for the number of Black men being exonerated for crimes they did not commit, it would be even better if they had received justice before having their lives irreparably disrupted, their youths forever erased.

There was always the belief that something was amiss in the convictions of the three men charged in the murder of Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz), particularly after one of them confessed and testified that the others had nothing to do with the assassination on Feb. 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom.

It has taken more than five decades for Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam to have their convictions exonerated, and even longer for four Black men in Groveland, Florida to have their convictions overturned.

In 1949, four Black men were accused of raping a white woman and that false accusation precipitated Klan attacks on the Black community and the murder of Ernest Thomas, one the accused.
Much more needs to be said about both these exonerations as they arrive on the heels of Kyle Rittenhouse being found not guilty in killing two white men in Kenosha, Wisconsin and wounding another.
The incidents, separated by years, reveal once more the disparity in criminal justice when it comes to trying white men and Black men. The exoneration of Aziz and Islam was a gross injustice that stemmed mainly from a failure to consider the prevailing evidence of innocence. In Groveland, the injustice was a consequence of the unforgiving Jim Crow system so clearly evident in southern parts of America back then—and today.

We may see another instance of systemic racism, the unchecked assaults of white men with guns as the trial in Brunswick, Georgia comes to an end. If an underage white boy can cross state lines armed with an automatic rifle, and charge self-defense in the murder of two men, we would love to be wrong in our feelings that a similar acquittal will not occur in Georgia.

Yes, Georgia is on our mind and so is the spate of exonerations now occurring underscoring the injustices in the past.

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