On Jan. 23, 1957, Willie Edwards Jr. was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Montgomery, Alabama. Edwards, 24, at the time was kidnapped from his delivery truck and forced to jump to his death from a bridge. It all started when Edwards was eating dinner with his family, when he got a call from his boss at the Winn-Dixie asking if he could cover a shift for another driver. Edwards left his two daughters and pregnant wife at home that evening but unfortunately never came back. Years after the incident, a former Klansman said he and other Ku Klux Klan members pulled Edwards out of his truck at gunpoint, terrorized him, and brought him to a high bridge over the Alabama River. The KKK members told him to jump or they’d shoot him. Edwards jumped.
Edwards’s oldest daughter, Malinda Edwards was only 3-years-old at the time of the tragedy. During an interview with StoryCorps, she told her sister, Mildred Betts, about the moment she learned what happened to her father.
“That night she sat in the room and watched him dress. She says she watched every stitch of clothing that he put on. And he kissed her goodbye,” Malinda said. “But the next day he didn’t come back.”
Malinda mother, Sarah Jean Salter, didn’t know where Willie was for months.
“Then, she said, ‘We found him washed up in the river.’ And she had to identify the body. The jeans he put on, she had sewn them up herself and she remembered the thread. She remembered the color of his underwear and his shirt and his T-shirt,” Malinda said.
“And she told me, ‘When you get married, don’t you let your husband go out the door without knowing what he has on every day, ’cause you don’t know if he’s coming back.’ “
Mildred told her sister that she couldn’t believe that the men were never held accountable for their actions. All four men connected to the case are now passed away.
“Only thing I accomplished was that his death certificate was changed to murder,” Malinda said. “People now know he was slain by people with no heart, no feeling.”
Mildred told her sister how proud…