In 1958 in North Carolina, the world still worked by very black-and-white lines, but kids will be kids, and race laws didn’t match up to playground laws. It was this that led to the destruction of two lives – James Hanover Thompson and his friend David Simpson.
The story came to light recently, when James’ began talking with his brother Dwight about what had happened.
The two boys were playing in the white neighborhood, when a girl kissed each on the cheek – on a dare. But when she repeated the playground fun to her parents, they quickly sent for the authorities. An innocent childlike kiss was transformed into a molestation conviction for two boys – 7 and 9 years old.
In an unthinkable act, the two children were detained for six days – not able to see or speak to their parents. They were beaten badly. Then, they were sent to reform school where they were supposed to stay until they were 21.
"They uh... took us down in the bottom of the police station to a cell. And they had us handcuffed — they started beating us," James says. "They was beating us to our body, you know? They didn't beat us to the face, where nobody could see it; they just punched us all in the stomach, and back and legs. We was hollering and screaming. We thought they was gonna kill us."(cited from npr.org, as quoted from James Hanover Thompson)
With the NCAAP and Eleanor Roosevelt asking for mercy, the governor of North Carolina eventually pardoned the boys, after three long months in detention.
No one knows what the boys could have turned out to be if this event had never happened. Described as coming back “changed” by James’ sister, the boy went on to spend his adult life in and out of prison for robbery. Dwight now travels the country educating students on what happened to his brother, hoping that it will result in something good.We can’t imagine growing up with this life altering and life defining experience, and not getting so much as an apology from the men and the system responsible.
Dwight "Dee" Thompson discuss Kissing Case of 1958- DEE THOMPSON TV
Photo Source: https://storycorps.org