Peacemaker; May you rest in peace..
posted by: 4WardEver UK
published: 10th May 2014
Updates listed at the foot of this item
On November 23, 2013, the death penalty abolition movement lost a beloved family member and friend when Delbert, 74, passed away in his home in Chicago. Delbert Tibbs was many things. He was a sage, a poet, a leader and the nicest person you could ever meet, with an intellect, a spirit and a commitment that inspired all of us. It was an honor to know this peacemaker, and to learn from him.
A man of peace, Delbert was a death row survivor who had experienced a great deal of violence perpetrated against him. A former seminary student, Delbert was traveling around the country and was in Florida in February 1974 when the state police stopped him. Police questioned him about the rape of Cynthia Nadeau, 16, and the murder of her hitchhiking companion, Terry Millroy, 27, in Fort Myers.
According to Nadeau, the offender was 5-foot-6, dark skinned and with a large afro. Meanwhile, Delbert was 6-foot-3, light complexioned and with short-cropped hair. So, Delbert was released. Yet, after viewing some photos, Nadeau changed her description and said Delbert Tibbs was actually the killer and rapist.
A warrant was issued, Delbert was arrested in Mississippi and was extradited to Florida. An all-white jury found Delbert guilty in less than two days.
A profile of Delbert Tibbs (incl video)
Delbert Lee Tibbs was convicted in 1974 of the murder of a 27-year-old man near Fort Myers, Florida, and the rape of the man’s 17-year-old female companion. Tibbs was sentence to death for the murder and life for the rape.
The victims were hitchhiking when, according to the young woman, they were picked up by an African American man who shot her boyfriend to death, raped her, and left her bleeding and unconscious beside a secluded road.
The uncommon life and natural death of Delbert Tibbs
Wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in Florida 40 years ago, this remarkable man of faith was exonerated—and then dedicated the remaining decades of his life to the poetic advocacy of racial justice in America.
Pete Seeger once sang about him. Studs Terkel once wrote about him. He counted Joan Baez among his advocates. He was the subject of a wonderful play, “The Exonerated,” which was turned into a made-for-television movie.
Delbert Tibbs, who left death row and fought against it, dies at 74
It is not easy: “you stand waiting for a train or a bus that may never come, no friend drives by to catch a ride; cold, tired. Call yourself a poet, but work all day mopping floors and looking out for thieves”.
Those lines, describing the experience of an innocent man on death row, are from a poem by Delbert Tibbs, who in 1974 was convicted in Florida of a rape and a murder that he had nothing to do with, it was later found. He spent nearly three years in prison before the State Supreme Court reversed his convictions, vacated his death sentence and freed him.
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