“A must-read, cannot-put-down history.” — Thomas Friedman, New York Times
Arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in a case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life.
In 1949, Florida's orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor with the help of Sheriff Willis V. McCall, who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old girl cried rape, McCall pursued four young black men who dared envision a future for themselves beyond the groves. The Ku Klux Klan joined the hunt, hell-bent on lynching the men who came to be known as "the Groveland Boys."
Associates thought it was suicidal for Marshall to wade into the "Florida Terror," but the young lawyer would not shrink from the fight despite continuous death threats against him.
Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI's unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund files, Gilbert King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader.
Gilbert King has written about U.S. Supreme Court history for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine's history blog, Past Imperfect. He is the author of The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.
Table of Contents
1 Mink Slide 7
2 Sugar Hill 21
3 Get to Pushin' 33
4 Nigger in a Pit 40
5 Trouble Fixin' to Start 58
6 A Little Bolita 72
7 Wipe this Place Clean 84
8 A Christmas Card 100
9 Don't Shoot White Man 113
10 Quite a Hose Wielder 124
11 Bad Egg 150
12 Atom Smasher 178
13 In any Fight Some Fall 193
14 THis is a Rape Case 210
15 You Have Pissed in my Whiskey 219
16 It's Funny Thing 240
17 No Man Alive or to be Born 258
18 All Over The Place, Like Rats 273
19 Private Parts 283
20 A Genius Here Before US 303
21 The Colored Way 321
22 A Place In The Sun 331
A Note On Sources 366
Selected Bibliography 413
What People are Saying About This
“In the terrifying story of the Groveland boys Gilbert King recreates an extraordinary moment in America’s long, hard struggle for racial justice. Devil in the Grove is a harrowing, haunting, utterly mesmerizing book.”
Michael G. Long
“Gilbert King’s gut-wrenching, and captivating, narrative is civil rights literature at its bestmeticulously researched, brilliantly written, and singularly focused on equal justice for all.”
“The tragic Groveland saga with its Faulknerian echoes of racial injustice spinning around an accusation of rape comes astonishingly alive in Gilbert King’s narrative. It is both heartbreaking and unforgettable.”
“Its rich case history captures the beginning of the end of the most extreme forms of racism. . . . Very few books combine this depth of research and narrative power about a subject of such pivotal significance.”
“This is a haunting and compelling story, one of many in the campaign for racial justice. . . . This book is important because it is disturbing. And in that regard we cannot walk away from the story it tells.”
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