Charles Manson's legacy as a career criminal and cult leader to the Manson Family was something of a wonder to the nation. The deaths of actress Sharon Tate, three others as well as couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were mourned while Manson's image was became a part of pop culture's Mt. Rushmore of crazed killers. Manson's motive behind instructing the murders has been reported over and over, but his fascination with African-Americans has often gone over looked.
In 2010, Biography released the documentary Manson: The Notorious Crime and Trial, which gave a detailed account of Manson's motive for the killings. Just a year before Tate's death came the assassination of Martin Luther King and soon after, riots throughout the country. "What he was saying was that blacks would get tired of burning their own cities and go to the white section," Catherine Share, a former Manson family member said. "And that would start the white people who were hoarding guns to kill anyone that came near their house. What he was teaching basically, was that we needed to survive this."
While only existing outside of the prison gates for just a few years of his adult life, his friends became his followers and members of the Manson Family. In addition to enjoying the hippie life in the 60's, he enjoyed LSD and misguided assumptions about the world. It's almost why it was so easy for Manson's racist tendencies to break out when it came to plotting what he called "Helter Skelter."
Inspired by cuts from The Beatles' White Album ("Blackbird" "Helter Skelter,") Manson believed a race war was underway and he could win it. The late Vincent T. Bugliosi also broke down Manson's racist mentality in his closing arguments for the case against Manson and three of his followers in 1971.
"Manson told [Susan] Watkins, in January of 1969, the reason "Helter Skelter" hadn't started yet was because the black man could release his frustrations by going up to Haight-Ashbury and having the white man's young daughters," he said. "He said when the young white love left Haight-Ashbury, "Blackie" would have to release his frustrations elsewhere, and that elsewhere would be Helter Skelter. He said it was going to start that summer, that is, the summer of 1969. Manson told Watkins how Helter Skelter was going to start."
To him, militant African-Americans were easy to plant the deaths of the LaBiancas. The couple, presumed important because of the area they lived in, were killed by Tex Watson and other members of the family.
A wallet presumed to be owned by one of the LaBiancas, was intended to be planted on a member of the Black Panther Party. "He said he wanted a black person to pick it up and use the credit cards so that the people, the establishment would think it was some sort of an organized group that killed these people," Barbara Hoyt, an 18-year-old who decided to break free of the Family, recalled during the case.
Founded by Huey P. Newton in 1966, the Black Panther represented community and resilience to the black community while to non-blacks they seemed to be angry, hostile and overwhelmingly intimidating.
"'The blacks would rise up against the whites and everyone would die except the Family.'" Hoyt said during her testimony. Manson says during the race war they would reside in a cave in Death Valley. "'Blackie then would come to Charlie and say, you know, 'I did my thing, I killed them all and, you know, I am tired of killing now. It is all over.' And Charlie would scratch his fuzzy head and kick him in the butt and tell him to go pick the cotton and go be a good ni**er, and he would live happily ever after."
Decades later, fan pages on Facebook include over 2,000 members where they sell t-shirts, necklaces and ironically share hip-hop mash up videos of Manson's TV appearances. There's also 29-year-old Afton Burton, known as Star, who planned on marrying Manson in prison.
Manson, a classic narcissist, didn't believe his influence was that strong. "They want to drop the name on Charlie and say 'It's all his fault.'" Manson said during one of his parole hearings. "I did the best thing I know how. I did nothing. I don't need to kill anyone. I think it. I don't need to live in this physical realm. The spiritual world is where I live."
Nearly 50 years later, the motive lives on. In the years during of the rise of Black Lives Matter and shunning of unlawful police practices have come forward people who have killed in order to start a race war. A white Army veteran from Maryland killed Timothy Caughman, 66, at random in New York earlier this year in hopes to gain media exposure. “Based on certain information it appears that this subject has been harboring these types of feelings for quite some time,” Assistant Chief William Aubry told reporters. “It’s been over 10 years that he’s been harboring these feelings toward male blacks.”
In August, Vocativ shared how 11 white supremacist groups have banded together to start their own race war.
While no one is interested in seeing history repeat itself, you have to wonder just how close we might be to relieving it again.