1997: Henry Francis Hays, whose crime cost the Klan

On this date in 1997, an Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan went to Alabama’s “Yellow Mama” for lynching a black teenager.

Henry Francis Hays, son of a top Klan officer in Alabama, had vented dissatisfaction with a jury’s failure to convict a black defendant for a white policeman’s murder by grabbing and stringing up a random black, 19-year-old Michael Donald.

Hays and his 17-year-old accomplice skated for more than two years because Mobile’s finest figured a publicly hanged black man probably had it coming from some drug deal.* Only through the victim’s mother’s persistence — she got Jesse Jackson involved, which helped involve the FBI — did the real murderers feel the heat.

Before long, the Klan would wish it had stayed out of the kitchen.

After Hays’ conviction, Michael Donald’s mother brought a civil action against the United Klans of America with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The $7 million liability verdict she won financially destroyed the United Klans — perpetrators of some of the 1960s’ most infamous anti-civil rights terror — and Donald was awarded its national headquarters building in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

This novel keys on the Michael Donald lynching as part of a (fictional) Mobile teen’s coming of age.

Hays wasn’t through making the sort of history he’d rather not have made.

When his turn in the electric chair finally came in 1997, he became the first white in Alabama put to death for an offense against a black in 84 years.**

Seemingly less cocksure in answering for his crime than he had been in committing it, Hays had always maintained his innocence. A few days before walking his last mile, he finally confessed to the Mobile chapter head of the NAACP.

* Michael Donald was not, in fact, involved in drugs.

** There haven’t been any other executions for white-on-black crime since Henry Hays, a span of 11 more years and 22 more executions as of this writing. (via the Death Penalty Information Center’s Execution Database)

On this day..

16 thoughts on “1997: Henry Francis Hays, whose crime cost the Klan

  1. We kunnen je helpen om binnen een paar werkdagen zowel het praktische als het theoretische duikbrevet te halen en je te helpen een echt en geregistreerd rijbewijs te behalen, zodat je jezelf niet hoeft te stressen met het schrijven van moeilijke examens en het besteden van zoveel tijd en geld.

  2. Did Henry Hayes get executed by the electric chair, I’m just a bit confused because other websites tell me things like he had a heart attack, died by incarceration, etc. Thank you for reading this

  3. I’d question the applicability of the term “lynching.” The death of Michael Donald sounds much more like a revenge murder, motivated by racialism. Historically, lynchings have been public events that were supported by a local social consensus, and lynchers purported to be rendering justice upon someone guilty of a specific crime. If the person acquitted of killing the police officer had been killed, it would be reasonable to call that a lynching. I don’t see how a random act of racial revenge counts as a “lynching.”

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  5. Lynching ” Evil Terrorist ” NATIVE AMERICANS Day before Yesterday

    Lynching ” Evil Terrorist ” AFRICANS yesterday

    Lynching” Evil Terrorist ” MUSLIMS Today in iraq & Abu Gharaib prison & Gontanamobay prison

    White baby Killers? are worst Tyrants on the Planet —- Their strategy? is always same garbage PROPAGANDA ——-

    we are killing ” Evil Terrorist ”

    Patriot Act made Lynching Universal —– yeah we could Lynch any one any where

    Just dont forget to Label them as ” Evil Terrorist ”

    Obama Healthcare bill ” so called Death Injection ”

    made Celebrity Overdose Universal —- Now doctors can give death injection to any one —-

    yeah baby —– USA is Freedom, democracy, Liberty

    oucchhhh i am getting sick of it

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  7. The Racism is extremly high in south evangelical U.S. States!
    1. To much Linch we have in South U.S. Ku Klux Klan States!
    2. Ku Klux Klan is a Evangelical+Racism Organisation!
    3. Look in Internet! Ku Klux Klan and Jesus! Lk.3:9., Lk.19:27.
    4. Bible is especial danger for black people in U.S.A.
    5. Because the Bible make Slavery- and Racismpropagand to!
    6. Theoretikal, America is today to Racismcountry!

  8. America is a christian rassist Country, today to!!!
    1. Slavery and Racism is a normal christian+Bible=Standard!
    2. The Bible make Slavery and Racism Propaganda today to!
    3. Who liked the Bible, liked Racism, Violence, War to!
    4. The Bible is a black Enemy 200 Years long in white U.S.A.
    5. The Bible is a most criminal book of the World!

  9. There have been other executions for white perp on black victim murders.

    Tommy Strickler, executed in Virginia for the abduction and murder of JMU Student Lee Ann Whitlock.

    Kermit Smith in North Carolina for the abduction, rape and murder of 20 year old college cheerleader Whelette Collins.

    Brandon Hedrick for the abduction, rape and murder of Lisa Crider in Appomattox County, Virginia.

    Those are ones I can recall off the top of my head.

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  11. U know this picture is beyond disturbing, but for this to be going on in 1981. I thought people had gotten they shit together and learned that everyone is beyond equal. KkK you let others run yal life and tell yall what to do. Come up north and see how we do cause we are not buying that crap. I just wonder now in 2009 is it still going on in mobile or in alittle secret town no one knows about? Can anyone answer that?

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