Monday, May 20 2013 2:57 AM EDT2013-05-20 06:57:27 GMT
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FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) -
On the night of January 10, 1966, Harold Dahmer escaped in his 56' Ford to get help for his family after their house was fire bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. Now pieces of that same truck will become an exhibit when the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opens in 2017.
"I never heard a gunshot, never heard any of that," said Dennis Dahmer. The crackling of flames was all Dennis heard as his family's house was fire bombed by three carloads of Klansmen. Only twelve at the time, and shaking in the darkness, he crawled towards the back door.
"By that time my only brother, Harold, was up out of the bed. He came around and the flames were so intense, so hot," said Dennis. He hid in the barn with his family while their father, Vernon-a well known Civil Rights Activist, fended off the Klansmen's bullets; alone and entrapped in the burning house. While their father distracted the KKK, Harold was quick to action.
"He ran under the carport and he got into that truck, backed up and left," said Dennis. Harold was able to get help for his family. That rusty, bullet-pegged truck is all that remains from a night of turmoil and struggle that ended in the death of Civil Rights Activist, Vernon Dahmer. His murder came just a day after he announced that his black neighbors could pay their poll tax at his store.
"I wish that this hadn't come up like this. I wish it hadn't destroyed my family, " said Harold Dahmer. It's because of his father's sacrifice for equality that Mississippi's first Civil Rights Museum will contain an exhibit of the 56' Ford in his honor.
On Vernon's tombstone you'll find the eulogy, "if you don't vote, you don't count."