Wayne Greenhaw: Fighting the Devil in Dixie

TUE, FEB 8, 2011 (45:25)

Wayne Greenhaw, distinguished writer and former newspaper reporter, discusses his book, Fighting the Devil in Dixie: How Civil Rights Activists Took on the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama.

He tells how the Klan, empowered by Governor George Wallace’s defiance of civil rights laws, grew more violent until confronted by a courageous, determined coalition of blacks and whites. Greenhaw tells the full story, from the Klan’s bombings and murders in the 1950s to Wallace’s run for a fourth term as governor in the early 1980s, when he asked for forgiveness and won re-election with the black vote.

+ BIO: Wayne Greenhaw

Journalist Greenhaw grew up in Alabama and had relatives and family friends deeply ensconced in the Ku Klux Klan. As an individual and later a reporter covering the civil rights movement for the Alabama Journal and the Montgomery Advertiser, Greenhaw made close contact with the heroic and villainous elements of the civil rights era.

He chronicles the famous and the lesser-known, the activists and the people on the sidelines, black and white, who were compelled to make difficult choices to challenge or comply with heinous social customs. He follows the case of a black truck driver killed by the Klan in 1957, against the backdrop of the growing civil rights movement.

Drawing on news archives, interviews, and personal accounts, he recalls the individuals who resisted and those who exploited racism, among them George Wallace. Greenhaw recalls Wallace’s wily use of racism to promote his political career and rise to governor and his later conversion to civil rights advocate. Photographs enhance this record of the complex history of race and politics in the South.

Georgia Center for the Book