THE EXECUTION OF WILLIE FRANCIS
Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South
by Gilbert King

Basic Civitas Books/February 2009

On May 3, 1946, in St. Martinsville, Louisiana, a seventeen-year-old black boy was scheduled for execution by electric chair. Willie Francis had been charged with murder; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. When the executioners flipped the switch, Willie screamed and writhed as electricity coursed through his body. But Willie Francis did not die.

Having miraculously survived, Willie was informed that the state would attempt to execute him a second time within a week. The ensuing legal battle went all the way to the Supreme Court, asking: Could the state electrocute someone twice? A gripping narrative about a brutal crime and its shocking aftermath, THE EXECUTION OF WILLIE FRANCIS offers a heroic—and ultimately tragic—tale of one man’s quest for moral justice in a nation still blinded by race.

About the Author
Gilbert King has written about Supreme Court history and the death penalty for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and he is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine's history blog, Past Imperfect, as well as the Washington Post's, The Root. His book, THE EXECUTION OF WILLIE FRANCIS was published in 2008. Gilbert is also a photographer whose work has appeared in Glamour and New York Magazine, as well as international editions of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and a French bulldog named Louis. For more information, please go to www.GilbertKing.com