Today, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) released the following statement on the news that Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr. died this morning. Blanton was the last surviving Klansman convicted for the murder of four little girls in a bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Senator Jones, then the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, secured Blanton’s conviction nearly 40 years after the crime.
“Tommy Blanton is responsible for one of the darkest days in Alabama’s history, and he will go to his resting place without ever having atoned for his actions or apologizing to the countless people he hurt. The fact that after the bombing, he went on to remain a free man for nearly four decades speaks to a broader systemic failure to hold him and his accomplices accountable. That he died at this moment, when the country is trying to reconcile the multi-generational failure to end systemic racism, seems fitting.
However, what the families of those girls, and the entire community of Birmingham, do know today is that when we come together and demand justice, we can achieve it. At this moment in our nation when we have all come to realize that the journey to racial justice has taken far too long, we must come together. Tommy Blanton may be gone, but we still have work to do.”