Bus burner’s son takes a different path
Richard Couch is, essentially, in the same line of work as Atticus Finch.
From a modest, spare law office in an Oxford industrial park, Couch has taken on a long list of defendants, often as a court-appointed attorney. Most of his clients are young, he tells me, and poor. Many of them are people of color.
When I ask why he keeps doing this work, he doesn’t mention his father — the man who, 50 years ago this week, joined a mob of Klansmen who attacked a Freedom Riders bus just outside of Anniston.
He talks, instead, about his experiences in an Oxford elementary school.
“You know, those schools didn’t integrate until the late ’60s or early ’70s,” he said. “When I was in first grade, there were just two black kids in the whole school. And those kids caught hell.”
Couch recalls seeing white students “beat the snot out of” a black classmate. No one lifted a finger to help. No one spoke out.
“If you want to talk about something that bothers me, that bothers me,” he said. “That’s really disturbing.”