Devil in the Grove

NewBooks 024by Gilbert King

Most of us know the name Thurgood Marshall , an attorney with the NAACP who is remembered for his work in Brown vs. the Board of Education, the landmark civil rights case that led to the desegregation of schools in the South. Few of us have heard of the case of the Groveland boys. Accused of raping a white woman, three young boys are almost lynched in Groveland, Florida in 1949.

Sheriff Willis McCall with the three suspects

Sheriff Willis McCall with the three suspects

The sheriff in this story is right out of In the Heat of the Night. Actually, his brutality is even more shocking. When the case wins a retrial, the sheriff actually shoots two of the boys while transferring them to the courthouse.

Crime scene evidence,and medical examination indicate that the crime never took place. One of the accused was already in jail in another area at the time of the crime. Thurgood Marshall arrives in the sleepy Florida town to defend the young men and finds himself in danger, his car chased by the Southern Knights of the Klan (KKK).

The Southern Knights pof the KKK led by Bill Hendrix, 1949

The Southern Knights pof the KKK led by Bill Hendrix, 1949

This story reads like a movie plot and a chilling and involved tale that impacted the town and the state in the following years. I wish I could say we’ve come a long way since then, but in light of recent killings of young black teenagers, I wonder if our hearts have changed at all.

A disheveled Sheriff McCAll stands by his car after shooting the two detainees

A disheveled Sheriff McCAll stands by his car after shooting the two detainees

Justice Thurgood Marsall

Justice Thurgood Marsall

An important book that records a pivotal era in the history of race in America, I definitely recommend it!!

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