Finally, justice Vernon Dahmer: Three decades after death of slain civil rights leader, Klansman found guilty.

August 28, 1998

THE LESSON of the conviction of the Ku Klux Klan leader who ordered the 1966 murder of Vernon Dahmer is that times are not what they used to be. Thank God. No Mississippi jury 30 years ago would convict a white man of killing an African-American.

Sam Bowers ordered fellow Klansmen to do a "No. 4" on Mr. Dahmer. The home of the Hattiesburg, Miss., NAACP leader was set on fire. He died fighting the blaze. Bowers ordered the deed. He was tried three times. Each trial ended with a hung jury.

Mr. Dahmer's widow -- like Medgar Evers' widow before her -- never gave up hope. It was 1994 before Klansman Byron de la Beckwith was convicted of the 1963 murder of Mr. Evers.

To those who loved these slain civil rights leaders, their assassins' convictions, though delayed, still satisfy. Every American can appreciate that justice has prevailed.

Pub Date: 8/28/98

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