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Description de l’éditeur
Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America recounts the story of three innocent victims, all of whom suffered violent deaths through no fault of their own: Vaudine Maddox in 1933 in Tuscaloosa, Sergeant Gene Ballard in 1979 in Birmingham, and Michael Donald in 1981 in Mobile.
The death of Vaudine Maddox—and the lynchings that followed—serves as a cautionary tale about the violence that occurred in the same region nearly fifty-years later, highlighting the cowardice, ignorance, and happenstance that sustained a culture of racial intolerance far into the future.Nearly half a century later, after a black bank robber was acquitted for the murder of police Sergeant Gene Ballard, two Klansmen took it upon themselves to exact revenge on an innocent victim--nineteen-year-old African American Michael Donald. Donald’s murder--deemed the last lynching in America--reignited the race debate in America and culminated in a courtroom drama in which the United Klans of America were at long last put on trial.
While tracing the relationships among these murders, B. J. Hollars’s research led him deep into the heart of Alabama’s racial, political, and legal landscapes. A work of literary journalism, Thirteen Loops draws upon rarely examined primary sources, court documents, newspaper reports, and first-hand accounts in an effort to unravel the twisted tale of a pair of interconnected murders that forever altered United States’ race relations.
In 1981, Michael Donald, a 19-year-old black man from Mobile, Alabama, was lynched by two members of the KKK, the killers making 13 loops as they tightened the rope around his neck. Through newspaper accounts and copious interviews, Hollars has wrought a highly stylized and frequently jumbled account of the murder and its aftermath, with discussions of two other homicides (the 1979 shooting of a Birmingham police officer, and the 1933 murder of a white girl in Tuscaloosa)) adds more confusion than perspective. However, the substantive central narrative justifies the effort of following these twists and turns. After years of confessions, trials, and appeals, one of Donald's killers died in the electric chair in 1997, becoming the first white man in 84 years to be executed for the murder of a black person. As a result of the civil proceedings, the United Klans of America, one of the most violent sects of the KKK, was ordered to pay seven million dollars in damages to Donald's mother, and the verdict bankrupted the organization. Hollars compares Donald's legacy to those of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, James Meredith, and Martin Luther King Jr. Though this might be a stretch, Donald's life and death are certainly worth remembering.