Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities

Book Talk: Closed Ranks

Book Talk: Closed Ranks

The public is invited to a book talk by Foster Dickson, author of Closed Ranks: The Whitehurst Case in Post-Civil Rights Montgomery, on Thursday, February 7 at 4 p.m. at the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities at Pebble Hill.

On a chilly December afternoon in 1975, Bernard Whitehurst Jr., a 33-year-old father of four, was mistaken for a robbery suspect by Montgomery, Alabama, police officers. A brief foot chase ensued, and it ended with one of the pursuing officers shooting and killing Whitehurst in the backyard of an abandoned house. The officer claimed the fleeing man had fired at him; police produced a gun they said had been found near the body. In the months that followed, new information showed that Whitehurst, who was black, was not only the wrong man but had been unarmed, a direct contradiction to the white officer's statement. What became known as the Whitehurst Case erupted when the local district attorney and the family's attorney each began to uncover facts that pointed to wrongdoing by the police, igniting a year-long controversy that resulted in the resignation or firing of police officers, the police chief, and the city's popular New South mayor.

In this latter-day exploration of the Whitehurst Case, author Foster Dickson reviews one of Montgomery’s never-before-told stories, one which is riddled with incompatible narratives. Closed Ranks brings together interviews, police reports, news stories, and other records to carry the reader through the fraught post-civil rights movement period when the "unnecessary" shooting of Bernard Whitehurst Jr. occurred. 

Foster Dickson is a writer, editor and teacher in Montgomery, Alabama.

The event is free, open to the public, and will be followed by refreshments. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

The Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities at Pebble Hill is located at 101 S. Debardeleben Street, Auburn. For more information on the program, call 334-844-4903 or visit www.auburn.edu/cah

 

Last Updated: January 30, 2019