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Toxic Justice and MLK

posted Jan 18, 2010, 2:28 PM by Nancy Swan   [ updated Jan 19, 2010, 6:06 AM by Thomas Swan ]
Today on Martin Luther King Day I wanted to share my connection to this great and powerful man.  His influence and words of peace, activism, and inspiration will live on forever.  

Just before Martin Luther King day in 2000  I discovered something was horribly wrong with my toxic tort case.  Swan v Carboline was scheduled for a jury trial in a little over two weeks.    I discovered that no witnesses had been notified and no trial preparation had taken place.   My attorney, Paul Minor, had not returned my calls for six months.  The only contact I had had been through his secretary, who had refused to give me any information. 

By that time, I had endured fifteen years of being followed by private investigators and harassment by criminals. I had survived  intensive and repetitive litigation preparation, the trauma of the murder of my judge, Vincent Sherry, the removal of Judge Jerry O. Terry for bias, and the suicide of another after his indictment for embezzlement, and two lengthy, but successful, Mississippi Supreme Court appeals.  I just want it to be over.  But not that way.

I was  frightened, and had no where to turn for help.  No attorney would give me advice because I was already represented by an attorney, Paul Minor.  I had placed my family's welfare in the hands of someone who had now become our adversary.   I blamed myself and I blamed Paul Minor.  I despair and out of options, I wanted to die.  I slipped into a deep depression. 

My children called with encouraging and loving words.  My husband hugged and pleaded with me to fight back.  My only friend offered to help.  But, I had no strength.  My toxic injuries had already left me in a weakened state.  In pain and weak,  I just wanted to go to sleep.  

A few days later, on Martin Luther King Day, my son Tommy called from college and woke me from from the dark abyss in which I willed myself to sleep.   He said he had emailed me a quote from Martin Luther King.  "You can fight back. You can do this,"  he said. 

I drug myself to the computer, the effort leaving me breathless.  There, on the screen read, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter"  --Martin Luther King Jr.   I read the words aloud.  I printed the quote and taped it to my computer.  

The power and poetry of MLK's words everything changed.   The quote became my rally-call.   It gave me strength to not give up, even in the darkness of despondency.  I repeated it to others, to encourage them as well.   It gave me the courage to find a way to fight back, by refusing to be intimidated into silence.   My book, Toxic Justice and this website are the result of the power of Martin Luther King Jr.'s wisdom and his continued presence.

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