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Revisiting "M.A.I" INCOLOR ARTICLES: "The Atlanta Child Murders Documentary"

Greetings and Good Monday Morning,

Welcome, welcome, welcome to "M.A.I. Pop Life" blog, it's a sincere pleasure to have you back! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend. So now that we're back at it for another work week, let me send you good virtual vibes this morning in hopes that you are productive today and have a fabulous week! Now, that we're off to a great start let's dive into this week's blog post.

This week, I'm sharing another that I wrote as a contributing writer for INCOLOR Magazine (2018-2019). Although, I wrote for INCOLOR Magazine for a brief time period, it was an incredible honor to be apart of their team of writers producing valuable content for the global majority. I'm incredibly proud of the work that I created for them, and it was during a time when I was trying to bring visibility, credibility, and validation to my work as a new writer and author. I'm so grateful for them, giving me the opportunity to step outside of my box and write something else besides romance novels. Through this experience, I've created a lane for myself that allows me the flexibility to adapt to various writing opportunities and have a voice on critical and exciting subject matter. 

About INCOLOR Magazine

"INCOLOR was an online platform for and by people of color. INCOLOR was originally founded in 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a response to the lack of diversity in the mainstream media. INCOLOR has since expanded into a platform that aims to connect and uplift people of color globally."

About the Article

This week, I'm happy to share the article that I wrote in April 2019, after viewing The Atlanta Child Murders Documentary. This documentary was gripping and it pierced my soul to know that this happened in America. To learn about the murders 29 Black children was haunting and scary to say the least, but the way in which their lives were undervalued by law enforcement was infuriating. I would like to clarify that this documentary was aired on Investigation Discovery, and is different from the documentary with the same subject matter that can be found on Amazon Prime Movies. I found that this story needs to be told, and not swept under the rug. These children deserve to be remembered, and their stories told so that a much more broader and larger discussion about how the missing cases and murders of Black and Brown people are viewed in America. After you read this article, I hope that you are intrigued to learn more about this case and possibly watch the documentary for yourself, or maybe read and explore more about the case surrounding Atlanta Child Murders. #SAYTHEIRNAMES

The Atlanta Child Murders Documentary

Today, the City of Atlanta is the mecca of Black Hollywood and is the home place of business and entertainment in the south. There is no denying the city’s rise in America as a place where affluent African-Americans live and thrive. However, in the late 1970’s, crime in this city reveals a stunning past that rocked its residents to its core. So much so, that the after effects lingers years later. In a new documentary, Investigation Discovery shines the spotlight on The Atlanta Child Murders. This documentary highlights a rash of murders to 29 young African-American children aged 9-14, and 2 adults lasting for 23 months. The City of Atlanta serves as a backdrop for The Atlanta Child Murders creating a cross-section between the lack of value on the lives of missing and murdered black children in America, and a dark memory that terrorized the normalcy of this city that continues to haunt its residents nearly 40 years later.

The Atlanta Child Murders is a three-part documentary providing a thorough analysis of the murders from 1979-1981. It is supported by in-depth commentary from the law enforcement that worked the cases, families of the victims, well-known musicians that are lifelong Atlanta natives, as well as, news footage and media clippings from that timeframe.

Episode 1

The first-episode, starts by giving viewers a clear idea of where the City of Atlanta stands present day as a city that has experienced a, “population explosion”, incredible economic growth and wealth, but also contrasts that with its history of being poor. This information gives perspective to changes that were occurring the city; the election of the first Black mayor, Mayor Maynard Jackson; racial disparities within the Atlanta Police Department, and the way in which law enforcement addressed crime within the Black community in late 1979. It shows that despite economic growth the city was still poor. This episode also gives the viewer a haunting feeling of the ghosts of The Atlanta Child Murders, the Black children whose lives were taken from them. Moreover, introducing an unknown danger, closely resembling the threatening nature of a “Boogie Man” that began to lurk and terrorize Black children within the City of Atlanta.

Episode 2

In episode 2, viewers begin to understand the unfolding of the cases and how the FBI became involved. We hear more from the victim’s family members and how these murders affected their lives, and the rise of racial suspicions surrounding the actual killer (or whether the KKK was involved). This episode builds upon the notion that there is a lack of national attention for the missing and murdered black children in this nation because, the children from these cases were black and from low-income communities.

Episode 3

Finally, in episode 3, a suspect is identified, Wayne Williams. The final episode of the documentary pulls together everything that has been found from the police investigation, and the firsthand accounts of the family members of the victims. It attempts to link together the fiber evidence found on several of the child victims (discussed in episode 1) to the fiber evidence that was found in the home of Wayne Williams when he was arrested. It gives context to the case built by the prosecution. Although a case was built and won against Wayne Williams, the case was not a conviction of murder for any of the children. Some the family members of the victims (and many residents) believed that the KKK were responsible, and that the police wanted to convict a black man for the murders. It is important to note that these murders had a “racial angle” because, many of the murders of African-Americans from the previous decade were thought to be committed by the KKK were also left unsolved. This explains, why the Black community believed the KKK was involved. Williams was convicted of murder for the two adult men, and the prosecution connected the fiber evidence they’d found in ten of the child murder cases to him, but Williams was never charged. Williams has maintained his innocence for more than 30 years. As the episode closes, it begins to question the very evidence that was used to convict Wayne Williams. It leaves the viewer wondering, if he was in fact the killer or was, he a “scapegoat” wrongfully accused and convicted.

Final Thoughts

As I watched this documentary, I wanted to believe that the lives of missing and murdered Black lives have value in America and has gained more importance since that time. On the contrary, this story has reminded me of the lack national attention in the media coverage across the board when we go missing. Many of the black and brown lives in America that have gone missing and murdered has received little to no attention at all. One that most recently comes to mind is, Amber Evans. A young Black activist from Columbus, Ohio, that went missing for more than 50 days with little to no coverage of her disappearance in the national media during that time. The Atlanta Child Murders documentary was thorough in sharing the details of these cases, and at the very least is beginning to give it the national attention that it deserves. In my opinion, I felt it was objective and injected very little, if any, bias into the storyline. I think the bias that most may recognize, is the point that the documentary made as to how law enforcement treated these murder cases. It uncovers deep racial issues within the City of Atlanta amongst, the Black community and law enforcement. The Atlanta Police Department and FBI were adamant in identifying Wayne Williams as the killer, and reinforcing their claim that he dumped a body off the side of the bridge. This is one-piece of information in the documentary that stood out to me because, the police immediately stopped his car after a stakeout on a bridge. Though they didn’t immediately check the river the night they claim one of their officers heard a body fall into during the stakeout. One of the retired officers said that the person that heard the body hit the water, “knows what a body hitting the water sounds like.” My question is, how, and what makes him an expert on “bodies being dumped off a bridge into a river.” They actually said that a body was found two days after that stakeout, the same night Wayne Williams car was pulled over by police. It seems that they would have searched the river as soon as the sound was heard, but they didn’t. So that was suspicious to me. It is interesting that a “serial killer” which is traditionally thought to only be a white male. Although, these murders seemed and looked to be done by a serial killer. I also found it curious that law enforcement ruled out the killer was white or calling them serial murders. Instead, the FBI had psychologists develop a “psychological profile” for a serial killer, but they [psychologists] felt that the offender would be Black. When they checked all of the items off the psychological profile list, the suspect that matched their profile was a black male named, Wayne Williams.

The Atlanta Child Murders should serve as a reminder that in America, the lives of missing and murdered Black children should be just, as important as, the lives of our white counterparts when they go missing and murdered. It proves that even in the City of Atlanta, where there are a significant number of affluent and successful African-Americans living in the city, there is still a lack of value placed on the lives of those that are poor and Black. This lack of urgency to investigate the disappearance African-Americans from law enforcement and to have media coverage (local and national), is not unique to Atlanta or to these cases, it can be found in many cities across America. When it comes to law enforcement, the lives of Black children are treated, as if, they have no value, much like “throwaways”. When you begin to view this issue through this lens, one could argue there is no difference from the treatment of the deaths of the missing and murdered of Black children and the way the killer dumped their bodies.

Thank you for reading my blog this morning. Hey, do me a favor, if you like or love this post, comment on it. I’d love to hear your feedback. Also, please feel free to share it with your family and friends in the social media universe. I greatly appreciate the support.

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