by Wayne Greenhaw
Chicago Review Press
Shortly after the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Ku Klux Klan, determined to keep segregation as the way of life in Alabama, staged a resurgence. The strong-armed leadership of Governor George C. Wallace, who defied the new civil rights laws and became the poster child for segregationists, empowered the Klan's most violent members. An intimidating series of gruesome acts of violence threatened to roll back the advances of the nascent civil rights movement.
As Wallace's power grew, however, blacks began fighting back in the courthouses and schoolhouses, as did young Southern lawyers including Charles Chuck Morgan, who became the ACLU's Southern director; Morris Dees, who co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center; and Bill Baxley, Alabama attorney general, who successfully prosecuted the bomber of Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and legally halted some of Wallace's agencies designed to slow down integration.
All along, journalist Wayne Greenhaw was interviewing Klan members, detectives, victims, civil rights leaders, and politicians of all stripes. In Fighting the Devil in Dixie, he tells this dramatic story in full for the first time from the Klan's kidnappings, bombings, and murders of the 1950s to Wallace's run for a fourth term as governor in the early 1980s, in which he asked for forgiveness and won with the black vote.
Fighting the Devil in Dixie is an essential document for understanding twentieth-century racial strife in the South and the struggle to end it.
About the Author:
Wayne Greenhaw covered Alabama state government, the Wallace administrations, and civil rights for local and national publications. A winner of the Harper Lee Award as Alabama's distinguished writer, his other books include The Thunder of Angels, the definitive account of the Montgomery bus boycott.