Author Gilbert King, Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction visited LDF’s offices in New York, where he was congratulated by LDF’s staff. King’s book Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, recounts the story of an alleged rape in Lake County, Florida in 1949 and the effort by a vicious and racist sheriff to railroad four young black men. LDF Director-Counsel Thurgood Marshall worked tirelessly in defense of Walter Irvin, one of the young men who was brutally beaten and who faced the death penalty for the alleged rape. Despite the lack of evidence that a rape occurred, and strong evidence that Sheriff Willis McCall and his deputies viciously beat and framed the young men, Irvin was only saved from the Florida electric chair by a Governor’s pardon after 3 long years of zealous defense by Marshall and the Legal Defense Fund. In the meantime, Harry Moore, a brilliant and respected NAACP leader in Brevard County, Florida and his wife were killed when a bomb planted under their house exploded on Christmas Eve in 1950. Moore’s involvement in support of Marshall’s defense of the “Groveland boys” is largely believed to be the motivation for local Ku Klux Klansmen.
This summer LDF will host a book talk with Gilbert King at our new offices in Manhattan.