MAY 10, 2007
An Alabama grand jury indicted former state trooper James Bonard Fowler for the Feb. 18, 1965, killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson, who was trying to protect his mother from being beaten at Mack’s Café.
At Jackson’s funeral, Martin Luther King Jr. called him “a martyred hero of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity.” As a society, he said, “we must be concerned not merely about who murdered him, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderer.”
Authorities reopened the case after journalist John Fleming of the Anniston Star published an interview with Fowler in which he admitted, despite his claim of self-defense, that he had shot Jackson multiple times. And Fleming uncovered Fowler’s killing of another Black man, Nathan Johnson. In 2010, Fowler pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to six months behind bars.