A Famous Story Came From The Plight Of A Man On Death Row

Barb wire fence around prison
William Anderson
April 30, 2020

Walter McMillian was a Black man living in Monroeville, Alabama when a terrible crime took place: the murder of a white woman. It left the community outraged. 

Gun sales increased, police failed to solve the crime, and Walter’s life would be changed forever by what happened next.

The police knew he was innocent, but he’d been involved in an interracial affair, so that made him a target. Thirsty for a scapegoat, they scooped him up - and he was put on Death Row BEFORE he even had a trial! 

His airtight alibi - being with numerous people when the crime was committed - didn’t matter. The judge had something else in mind.

Judge Robert E. Lee Key decided to override the jury’s life sentence and instead give Walter death. 

That could have been it - but a young Black lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, and his organization the Equal Justice Initiative, exposed suppressed evidence and a coerced witness. The state was forced to make a change.

Walter was freed, and went on to fight against the death penalty - and the sheriff that locked him up remained in office until 2018

Walter’s story was dramatized in the movie Just Mercy, but the unjust, draconian death penalty remains intact. The clear message is seemingly being ignored.

The racist, unjust death penalty is a stain on the USA. It’s past time for us to catch up with numerous other nations in abolishing the practice. As long as it stands, the risk of legalized lynching will always be there! And that’s a risk we can’t afford to take as Black people.

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