Dimon Kendrick-Holmes: Looking back prompts many to move on

December 13, 2013 

This week, somebody asked me why we decided to run our Kenneth Walker 10th anniversary coverage at the start of the holidays.

Um, because the event occurred this time exactly 10 years ago?

Believe me when I say we weren't trying to fire another shot in the War on Christmas or get special recognition on FOX News. We love Christmas around here, and on Dec. 25, barring snowstorms and unforeseen production errors, we're going to wish you a Merry Christmas above our masthead just like we always do.

Several years ago, a newspaper not too far from here replaced "Merry Christmas" on the front page with "Happy Holidays," and the readers weren't very merry about it. Neither was the publisher, or probably the poor soul in the newsroom who decided to part with tradition. I'm guessing it was somebody who was stuck on the skeleton crew on Christmas Eve and wasn't exactly feeling the spirit of the season.

But I digress. Maybe because I'm trying to avoid the big question: Should we have recognized the anniversary at all?

I still think so. It was a major story in our city a decade ago, and it has lingered like most stories don't. It surely changed us, or at least greatly affected us, as a community -- and it certainly changed the lives of certain individuals and families.

Some say we should have left the Walker story alone because we've already healed. If it's true that we've healed, than how have we healed? What lessons did we learn? How should we respond when another tragedy hits our community that's beyond our control? As a newspaper, those are the questions we want to ask, and try to answer.

Others say we should have left it alone because we haven't healed. If it's true we haven't healed, then shouldn't we realize we have a problem and work to solve it? Again, those are the questions we want to ask and to answer.

Some say we shouldn't have brought it up because it wasn't about race. Others say we shouldn't have brought it up because it was about race.

Many say we should have run a story on just one day instead of three.

On Sunday, we put all the stories and facts of the past 10 years into context. On Monday, we told you about the settlement with the Walker family. On Tuesday, we examined the frustration of many in the black community, along with their struggle to find healing and hope.

But no one seems to agree on which story we should have run. Folks who liked the first story disliked the second, folks who liked the second disliked the third, and so on.

We tried not to overdo it. On Monday, we gave more attention to the Auburn

football team, which didn't please Alabama fans. On Tuesday, we gave more attention to the sale of Jay Automotive Group.

But we felt like the 10th anniversary was the right time to think about it and talk about it. It's unpleasant to be sure. Whenever we mention what happened in Phenix City six and seven decades ago, we still get angry calls from readers saying we should move on.

After 10 years, many Columbus readers are saying the same thing about the Kenneth Walker shooting. It's human nature to block out what's unpleasant and to focus on what you can control, especially around the holidays.

So, at least for now, we'll move on to something else, and let you get back to celebrating Christmas.

Contact Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, at dkholmes@ledger-enquirer.com

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