'Lynching, Willie Earle, and the Church' by Will Gravely
The Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School and Professor William Willimon, S.T.D., will host a discussion with William B. Gravely, Ph.D., D' 69, the author of the 2019 book, They Stole Him Out of Jail: Willie Earle, South Carolina's Last Lynching Victim published by the University of South Carolina Press.
A professor emeritus at the University of Denver, Gravely will share the context of the Earle's lynching and subsequent trial, and its importance for today. Joining the conversation will be Willimon, professor of the practice of Christian ministry, and David Emmanuel Goatley, Ph.D., a research professor of theology and Black Church Studies and director of the Office of Black Church Studies at the Divinity School.
The book tells the story of Willie Earle, an African American man arrested for the murder of a South Carolina taxi driver. Earle was then abducted from his jail cell by a mob and beaten, stabbed, and shot to death on Feb. 17, 1947. An investigation produced 31 suspects and 26 confessions, but after a nine-day trial that attracted national press attention, the defendants were acquitted by an all-white jury.
Gravely analyzes the flaws in the investigation and prosecution. More than 70 years later, the crisis in criminal justice-especially as it pertains to African Americans-remains a national challenge. They Stole Him Out of Jail is a reminder not only of past traumas but of how far South Carolina and the country has yet to go.