Century Marks

Indiscriminate love: In August 1998, Sam Bowers, a former Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was finally convicted of a crime he had committed over three decades earlier. In 1966 Bowers and some fellow Klansmen torched the house of Vernon Dahmer. The fire killed Dahmer and injured one of his three children. Dahmer’s offense was that he had allowed black people to pay their poll taxes in his grocery store. At the 1998 retrial of the case, a newspaper reporter was surprised to see that Will Campbell, a maverick Baptist preacher known for his civil rights activism, had befriended both Dahmer’s widow and Bowers himself. The reporter asked Campbell why he befriended both a murderer and the widow of the victim. The ever-salty Campbell replied: “Because I’m a Christian, G-dammit!” (Thomas G. Long, Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian).


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