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"She was in the truck," he said. "She identified him. It was a woman's voice. She can get that blood off of her hands."
If the Department of Justice is going to go after anyone, Wright reiterated during the Q&A afterward, it's Carolyn Bryant.
But she's not talking. It's likely we'll hear her story only if she's forced to take the witness stand.
Bryant was 21 in 1955. She's now 72. She refused to speak with 60 Minutes in October 2004, but a cameraman took her picture. With short gray hair and silver-rimmed glasses, she looked as if she could have been some white kid's favorite grandmother.
At the Kansas City, Kansas, Community College forum, Wright dismissed the argument he often hears: that his family's quest for justice is tearing open old wounds.
He tells people, "You must not have been wounded. I was wounded. If I can stand it, you can."
No one knows how many civil rights-era murders remain to be solved, Sykes told the audience.
"Some were never talked about other than that one day, somebody's loved one left and they never saw them again," he said. Many families simply fled Mississippi.
Sykes urged everyone to go home and question their relatives, dig for painful, long-held family secrets.
When the FBI delivered the results of its inquiry to Chiles last week, it announced that there would be no federal charges. This didn't bother Sykes his strategy all along was to go for state charges, he says. As of press time, Chiles had not announced her intentions. It may take weeks before she decides whether to file new charges.
"I promised Ms. Mobley a thorough and fair investigation. I could not promise her a conviction," Sykes says.
But the fact that there's been an investigation is its own form of justice. After all, Sykes says, "J. Edgar Hoover said there would never be an investigation."
On April 19, Sykes plans to give a speech to the Mississippi District Attorneys Association, asking them to support Talent's "Till Bill." It's a major milestone, he says, being able to meet with that state's top law enforcers. Getting them to work with the feds, he says, "will go a long way toward eradicating these last vestiges of slavery, the civil rights murders."
More evidence of how far the country has come over the past 50 years: Today, justice is in the hands of Joyce Chiles, the first black female district attorney elected in Leflore County.