The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan

The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan

by Laurence Leamer

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The New York Times bestselling author of The Kennedy Women chronicles the powerful and spellbinding true story of a brutal race-based killing in 1981 and subsequent trials that undid one of the most pernicious organizations in American history—the Ku Klux Klan.

On a Friday night in March 1981 Henry Hays and James Knowles scoured the streets of Mobile in their car, hunting for a black man. The young men were members of Klavern 900 of the United Klans of America. They were seeking to retaliate after a largely black jury could not reach a verdict in a trial involving a black man accused of the murder of a white man. The two Klansmen found nineteen-year-old Michael Donald walking home alone. Hays and Knowles abducted him, beat him, cut his throat, and left his body hanging from a tree branch in a racially mixed residential neighborhood.

Arrested, charged, and convicted, Hays was sentenced to death—the first time in more than half a century that the state of Alabama sentenced a white man to death for killing a black man. On behalf of Michael’s grieving mother, Morris Dees, the legendary civil rights lawyer and cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a civil suit against the members of the local Klan unit involved and the UKA, the largest Klan organization. Charging them with conspiracy, Dees put the Klan on trial, resulting in a verdict that would level a deadly blow to its organization.

Based on numerous interviews and extensive archival research, The Lynching brings to life two dramatic trials, during which the Alabama Klan’s motives and philosophy were exposed for the evil they represent. In addition to telling a gripping and consequential story, Laurence Leamer chronicles the KKK and its activities in the second half the twentieth century, and illuminates its lingering effect on race relations in America today.

The Lynching includes sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062458353
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 31,355
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Laurence Leamer is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including The Kennedy Women and The Price of Justice. He has worked in a French factory and a West Virginia coal mine, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal. His play, Rose, was produced off Broadway last year. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida, and Washington, D.C., with his wife, Vesna Obradovic Leamer.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Fists Against the Earth 1

Part 1 Night of the Burning Cross

Klan Business 5

A Public Display 12

Thirteen Knots 15

"Good Job, Tiger" 20

A Precious Enclave 23

The Klan's Signature 30

The Value of Things 34

Bloody Nails 37

An Open Casket 42

A Major Injustice 47

Missionary Work 54

Prayers in the Night 56

A Lesser Grime 62

Black Sheep 68

A Capital Offense 71

The Second-Most-Hated Man 77

A Matter of Justice 79

"The Forces of Evil" 84

"Sizzling of the Flesh" 88

A Verdict 94

Part 2 A Time of Judgment

"Where in the Hell …" 101

Sunday School 105

Turning Back the Tide 111

"Who Is Shelton?" 114

The Day of Reckoning 119

Freedom Rides 125

A Personal Brawl 129

Riding Again 134

Eternal Vigilance 141

The Schoolhouse Door 143

Good Working People 150

"Seeds of Hate" 156

A Race Thing 161

Scrawny Pine 169

A Follower of Christ 177

A Pain in the Stomach 184

A Political Prisoner 188

Never 191

Censored 195

Lowering the Boom 201

Private Matters 204

Fighting the Fight 213

A Wannabe 217

Part 3 Roll Call of Justice

"Novel, but Unlikely" 225

An Eye for an Eye 228

A Clear and Powerful Message 231

Natural Consequences 234

A Book of Prophecy 237

"As You Lie, You Forget" 241

Intruders in the Night 246

"Blood Will Flow" 248

Shots in the Night 253

The End of an Era 262

Sending a Signal 265

Curveballs 271

"Nice Job, Daddy" 276

Purity of the Race 282

A Jury of One's Peers 288

Trading Places 290

"That's My Mom" 294

Remembrance 301

A Question of Justice 306

Death Has No Hold 312

Where Are They Now? 319

Acknowledgments 323

Notes 327

Bibliography 355

Index 359

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The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Long--tedious--hard to keep all the characters straight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, I learned quite a bit from reading this book.
JEN-E-- More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully written historical piece of literature! It's a shame that racial tensions in American and around the world will always exist, but there also exists a sensitivity towards African Americans and there place in society that did not exist in 1961 or 1981, for that matter. Nonetheless, that sensitivity exists in Morris Dees Jr. and let that be a testimate that same sensitivity exists in many white America today. Thank you Morris Dees for everything you have done! You are a true hero! Thank you for the other Morris Dees of the world who give everything they have towards the plight of African Americans of today and yesterday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very raw