This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Just over 30 years after she witnessed the murders of her friends, Terry Jackson-Mitchell met with their families in a reunion that sent years of loss, pain and fear drifting away into a summer sky.
Terry and a girlfriend were jogging with Ted Fields and David Martin toward Liberty Park on Aug. 20, 1980, when the young men were gunned down by a white supremacist. Terry, then 15, was wounded by a fragmented rifle slug.
She and her friend are white. Ted and David were black.
Given the times, the racial divide was as deep here in Salt Lake City as anywhere in the nation. So were the beliefs among some members of the Fields and Martin families that the girls had somehow contributed to their friends' deaths -- if only for being white girls with black men.
On Saturday evening, though, the walls crumbled when Terry, Ted Fields' father, Ted Sr., and David's mother, Johnnie Mae Martin, joined with friends and families at Liberty Park to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.
The march had been organized by the Utah Coalition of Progressives at the park, to be concluded at a plaque honoring Ted and David.
Mrs. Martin told me Monday that for a long time, she believed that Terry's dad, then leader of a biker club, had either killed the two "or had it done."
But Saturday, she apologized to Terry's father, and both wept and embraced. "He said, 'I wasn't even in town.' "
"And then I looked at Terry," Mrs. Martin said. "She's gone through so much since then. My son was taken from me, but I didn't see it. She saw it. And it has to be hard. She was just a child."
That evening in 1980 was the last time she saw her son. Ted and David had gone to a church choir rehearsal, then headed out for their run.
"The next thing I knew we got a call," she said. "They were gone."
Sometimes, she said, people would ask her what she wished would happen to their killer, Joseph Paul Franklin, who's now on death row in Missouri for another of many murders.
"I say, 'God would take care of him. I never hated him, but I wondered why [he did it]. I feel anyone who has that much hatred in him has to be sick. And he's not the only one."
Now as then, she said, "we have racism in every race. We may as well face it. We don't need that.
"I can't judge you, because I don't know you," she told me. "We just need to get to know each other."
Just as Mrs. Martin told me about her son, so had Ted Fields Sr., a retired pastor and career military man who raised his seven children at Hill Air Force Base and Clearfield. Ted Jr., who graduated from Clearfield High, became friends with David at church.
His son was a skinny kid who liked basketball and was just getting into boxing.
"David and Ted were so much alike," Mr. Fields said. "Ted was dating David's sister. They'd work on their cars together."
Ted was attending Westminster College and working at Northwest Pipeline, where he had arranged for David to have a job interview.
Ted was 20 when he died. David was 18.
After the families had gathered Saturday, Terry -- who for decades had kept her enduring agony a secret to almost everyone -- took the microphone. As recently as last week, when I wrote a column about her, Terry wanted privacy and asked that her full name not be used. Now, she's out of the shadow.
As she put it, Ted and David "always walk with me in August. I miss them. By divine grace, I am living and they are not. I lived to experience a full life with my husband, two beautiful daughters and a granddaughter."
Terry spoke of "scenes of a nightmare. So vivid. So real. I can remember their laughter, their voices, their last words they spoke before they left this plane."
And she asked why we abide hate speech, why political leaders shy away from protecting those affected by hate-related crimes and affronts.
"We must rationally acknowledge and discuss the history of racism and other hate-related energies and crimes, on our economy, community, humanity, the sacredness of life and spirit," Terry said.
"Racism," she said, "is real to me. It is tangible to me."
Her own family is like many in this nation, she said. "We are fortunate to have the rich colorful hues of strong black, Mexican, Indian and white that created the ties of who we are physically, emotionally and spiritually."
And she quoted King: "In some not too distant tomorrow, the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty."
On Saturday evening at the park, King's vision may well have come true.
Peg McEntee is a columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week columnist Peg McEntee wrote about two young black men murdered just outside Liberty Park 30 years ago. One of the girls with them was Terry Jackson-Mitchell. Now married with children and a grandchild -- and a successful businesswoman -- Jackson-Mitchell asked for privacy in that column. On Saturday -- the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech -- she took the microphone in a Liberty Park ceremony and delivered the following speech.
Until recently August has been a challenging month for me. My friends always walk with me in August. I miss them. They were so young (18 and 20) when they were killed for being black. By Divine Grace, I am alive and they are not. At the age of 15 I survived. I lived to experience a full life with my husband, two beautiful daughters and granddaughter. Ted and Dave didn't. Their parents and loved ones miss them every single day and especially today.
August 20th was the 30th anniversary of their tragic murders and me being shot by a racist serial killer. At that corner, in the middle of the street, their blood was shed and they went to the Light. I stayed here, reluctantly.
I come here every year on the anniversary. This year I left a note, a candle and a crystal on the plaque. I arrived at the same time the event happened that night. A flood of memories came over me, scenes of a nightmare. So vivid. So real. I could hear their voices and remember the conversations we had throughout the evening until we came to the crosswalk where they were murdered. I could see their brilliant red blood against the black pavement and white painted lines. I can remember their laughter, their voices, their last words they spoke before they left this plane. I saw everything unfold in front of me. My past and my present. I stayed for awhile and remembered the scenes of that night and the devastation it left in its wake. Racism is real to me. It is tangible to me.
The man that murdered Ted and Dave used the n-word with the same inflection in his tone of voice that "Dr. Laura" used when she addressed a caller who was hurt by insensitive people who used that word around her. The caller was black and her husband white. Dr. Laura told the caller to "not be so sensitive." And "If you're that sensitive maybe you shouldn't have married outside of your race."
That comment really struck a nerve with me... Will we ever just be one race...The human race. Don't we all have red blood? When it's donated and accepted there is no race attached to the type of blood it is. We all bleed the same color.
I saw an interview with Dr. Laura talking about taking back her rights to free speech. Sarah Palin stands with her on this issue. The n-word is okay to use in Sara's house but not the r-word. We all know that words are powerful. They can leave you feeling like you are on top of the world or on the brink of killing something. We know this.
Clearly though, with the infamous Dr. Laura n-word incident we know we have a long way to go. I don't know about you, but I had to force myself to listen to her disgraceful behavior and advice to one of her fans.
Why are we tolerating hate speech? Why do our political leaders shy away from creating protection for those who are effected by hate related crimes and affronts? We are at a point in time where we must rationally acknowledge and discuss the history and effects of racism and other hate related energies and crimes, on our economy, community, humanity, the sacredness of life and spirit.
In many civilized countries it is against the law to be racist. It is a crime. It is a crime that America is not one of those civilized nations. Someday I hope that the United States of America will stand with the HUMAN RACE and protect us all.
Today we celebrate a speech that is a part of our nation's history. A speech that brought about civil rights in our country. It stirs you to a place of understanding the far-reaching effects of racism. Even though it was written in 1963, many of the truths Dr. King spoke of are still true today. Some people say that now that we have a black president that racism is gone. Like a magic wand waived over us all and it disappeared. Wouldn't that be nice? But racism is like cancer. If you don't address it immediately it will grow until it kills. We are in need of rational dialogue to kill it once and for all. We have to talk about it.
My children know some of my pain over this event in my life. Of course sometimes as a mother, my pain is their pain, unfortunately. But when I look at them I see them as Life's perfect union of all that is good in humanity. Our family is like many in our country. We are fortunate to have the rich colorful hues of strong black, Mexican, Indian and white ancestors that created the ties of who we are physically, emotionally and spiritually. We come from a long line of open minded love. By life experience alone I know that love is not the color of skin, it's the color of water.
For me, these are the timeless truths that speak to my heart and make me pay attention to the Light that brought us here and will escort us on the way home.
I think Dr. King said it best in 1963:
"Let us all hope the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities. In some not too distant tomorrow, the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty."
Rest in peace Dr. King, Ted Fields and Dave Martin. You are missed dearly. We have never and will never forget you.
To read Terry Jackson-Mitchell's entire speech and Peg McEntee's earlier columns about the night racial violence shocked Salt Lake City, go to www.sltrib.com/mcentee