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‘Without Mercy’ author to talk about race, crime

1/31/2014, 6 a.m.

Former AJC editor David Beasley will read and sign copies of his book, “Without Mercy: The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South” on Feb. 11, at the Carter Presidential Library & Museum Theater.

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David Beasley

The reading/book signing takes place at 7 p.m.

The book explores the Dec. 9, 1938, execution of six black men in 81 minutes in the electric chair at Georgia’s Tattnall Prison.

A seventh man, who was white, was pardoned by Gov. E.D. Rivers, underscoring the major role played by race in determining who lived and who died.

The executions were a record for the state that still stands today.

The new Tattnall prison, built with funds from FDR’s New Deal, as well as the fact that the men were tried and executed, rather than lynched, were thought to be a sign of progress at the time.

But while the black men were arrested, convicted, sentenced and executed in as little as six weeks, Gov. Rivers pardoned white killers and criminals, allowed the Ku Klux Klan to infiltrate his administration and bankrupted the state.

Beasley, who is the co-author of “Inside Coca-Cola,” effectively juxtaposes the lives of the black men who were executed with white men who were not. Critics say his vivid and harrowing account ultimately puts capital punishment itself on trial.

The Carter Center is at 441 Freedom Parkway in Atlanta.

For more information, call 404-865-7100 or visit www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov.