Last Thursday in Alabama someone shot William Moore, a white postman from Baltimore who was engaged in a one-man march through the South to protest racial segregation. Unarmed and unaccompanied, Moore provided an easy target for the Alabama marks-men. He died instantly.
On the day of his death, Moore had been stopped by an investigator from the Alabama State Police. "I asked him to call off his walk or at least to take off the integrationist signs he was wearing," the investigator later told a New York Times reporter. "I warned him about the racial situation in Alabama but he wouldn't listen. He told me in a very nice way that he wanted to prove something and couldn't if he turned back." Half an hour later Moore was dead.
Perhaps it requires a death like Moore's to reawaken the deadened moral nerve of this nation. Certainly abstractions have failed to convey what is happening in the South. It may be that only isolated episodes, like lynchings and murders, can remind us of the horror of this changing region.
The Kennedy Administration, extrapolating from statistics, argues that integration will be accomplished within the next decade. But will law or argument or rarely enforced threats, ever reconcile men like Moore's murderers to the fact that they must accept integration?