The Story of a Dragging in Jasper, Texas
by Joyce King
On June 7, 1998, James Byrd, Jr., a forty-nine-year-old black man, was dragged to his death while chained to the back of a pickup truck driven by three young white men. It happened just outside of Jasper, a sleepy East Texas logging town that, within twenty-four hours of the discovery of the murder, would be inextricably linked in the nation’s imagination to an exceptionally brutal, modern-day lynching.
In this superbly written examination of the murder and its aftermath, award-winning journalist Joyce King brings us on a journey that begins at the crime scene and extends into the minds of the young men who so casually ended a man’s life. She takes us inside the prison in which two of them met for the first time, and she shows how it played a major role in shaping their attitudes—racial and otherwise. The result is a deeply engrossing psychological portrait of the accused and a powerful indictment of the American prison system’s ability to reform criminals. Finally, King writes with candor and clarity about how the events of that fateful night have affected her—as a black woman, a native Texan, and a journalist given the agonizing assignment of covering the trials of all three defendants. More than a spectacular true-crime debut, Hate Crime is a breathtaking work of reportage and a searing look at how the question of race continues to shape life in America.
From the Hardcover edition.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, November 2011
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