The Murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson!


On the evening of February 18, 1965, a group of civil rights activists gathered at the Zion United Methodist Church in Marion, Alabama for a night march in support of James Orange, the recently arrested field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

27 year-old, Jimmie Lee Jackson–an Army veteran and church Deacon–his eighty-two year old grandfather Cager Lee, and his mother Viola participated in the protest. After the meeting at the church, state troopers–who knew of the protest thanks to surveillance by the FBI–attacked the protesters.


Wandering through crowd, Jimmie finds his grandfather, and the two seek refuge in the nearby Mack’s Café. Inside, Viola Jackson was attacked by two state troopers and fell to the ground. While Jackson was rescuing his mother, a trooper grabbed him and shoved him into a cigarette machine and shot him twice in the stomach.

A witness to the shooting overheard one trooper ask, “Who got him?” Another responded “I got him.” This was James Bonard Fowler. Jimmie was taken to Good Samaritan hospital in nearby Selma.


Several days later, Colonel Al Lingo of the state police walked into the hospital and served an arrest warrant to Jackson: assault and battery with intent to murder a police officer.

Ain’t that some bull shiggity? The man laying there with a policeman’s bullet in him and they’re serving HIM with an arrest warrant.

Anyway, in spite of being shot twice by the policeman, Jimmie Lee Jackson appeared to be on the way to recovery.


At 9pm, as Dr. William Dinkins recalled, Jackson was sitting up in his bed talking and in good spirits. Thirty minutes later, Dinkins received a call from the hospital that “another doctor” had decided Jimmie needed to undergo further surgery. Dinkins argued against it but eventually was forced to proceed.

Who the hell was this “other doctor”?

During surgery, Jackson was under a safe dose of anesthesia. Minutes later, “his blood turned dark” and Dr. Dinkins stated to the other doctor that Jackson “should be put on 100% oxygen”. Instead, the other doctor decided to increase the levels of anesthesia and in minutes Jimmie Lee stopped breathing and died.

Dr. Dinkins was adamant that Jimmie Lee Jackson could have survived had this second surgery not occurred.


Though he readily admitted to the shooting in the event’s aftermath, Trooper, James Fowler, did not face any criminal charges until 2007.

-Fowler was reassigned to Birmingham.

-In 1968 he was dismissed from the state troopers after physically attacking his supervisor. 

-He enlisted in the US Army.

-After the war, he became a heroin trafficker in northern Thailand.

-In Thailand, he was convicted of heroin trafficking and served five years in a Thai prison.

-In 2007, Fowler was also being investigated by the FBI for the 1966 shooting death of Nathan Johnson, a black man fatally shot after being taken to the Alabaster jail.

-2010 Fowler pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case of Jimmie Lee Jackson. He was sentenced to six months in prison but was released one month early for a surgical procedure.

-He later said that he never received any negative reaction from supervisors about the case.

Mr. Jackson’s death has been cited as one of the catalysts for the March 7, 1965, march from Selma to Montgomery, which became known as “Bloody Sunday.”


  1. Reblogged this on Seek The Best Blog and commented:
    Courtesy of The Time Tunnel.
    In this post, Ron Brown, masterfully details one of the UGLY sides of black history.
    It’s very tempting to gloss over this portion of our history, but that does a huge disservice to all of the sacrifices that were made to hold our country up to its democratic ideal.
    Thanks for this awesome piece Ron, again, it’s hard to look at but we MUST.
    Love always,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the reblog Cuz.

      YES INDEED these pieces are hard to read and the history behind them is tragic and sad.

      We ALWAYS tell the stories of our great leaders and what they went through.

      But, sometimes we have to look deeper to really get a grasp of the context, time and place!

      I’m focusing on police involved killings this week in preparation for protests in my small hometown over the killing of an 18 yo high school kid be the Chief of PoPos.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good grief!
    “but was released one month early for a surgical procedure” – Too bad Fowler didn’t receive the same ‘treatment’ that the *other doctor* gave Jimmie.
    Thank you for this. 😥😠

    Liked by 1 person

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