• The Three Death Sentences of Clarence Henderson

  • A Battle for Racial Justice at the Dawn of the Civil Rights Era
  • By: Chris Joyner
  • Narrated by: John Lescault
  • Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The story of Clarence Henderson, a Black sharecropper convicted and sentenced to death three times for a murder he didn’t commit

This is the story of Clarence Henderson, a wrongfully accused Black sharecropper, who was sentenced to die three different times for a murder he didn’t commit, and of the prosecution desperate to pin the crime on him despite scant evidence. His first trial lasted only a day and featured a lackluster public defense. 

The book also tells the story of Homer Chase, a former World War II paratrooper and New England radical who was sent to the South by the Communist Party to recruit African Americans to the cause, while offering them a chance at increased freedom.

And it’s the story of Thurgood Marshall’s NAACP and their battle against not only entrenched racism but a Communist Party — despite facing nearly as much prejudice as those they were trying to help — intent on winning the hearts and minds of Black voters. The bitter battle between the two groups played out as the sides sparred over who would take the lead on Henderson’s defense, a period in which he spent years in prison away from a daughter he had never seen.

Through it all, Chris Joyner reveals a portrait of a community and a country at a crossroads, trying to choose between the path it knows is right and the path of least resistance. The case pitted powerful forces — often those steering legal and journalistic institutions — attempting to use racism and Red-Scare tactics against a populace that by and large believed the case against Henderson was suspect at best.

Ultimately, it’s a hopeful story about how, even when things look dark, some small measure of justice can be achieved against all the odds and that actual progress is possible. It’s the rare book that is timely, yet still manages to shed an informative light on America’s past and future as well as its present.

©2020 Chris Joyner. Published in 2020 by ABRAMS, an imprint of ABRAMS, New York. All rights reserved (P)2022 Blackstone Publishing

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it's a History Book that reads like a screenplay.

This book needs to be required reading in any African American Study course. Great job

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For the History Buff Into Civil Rights and Journalism



Historical account of the trials and journalism surrounding Clarence Henderson out of Georgia, a Black sharecropper accused of rape and murder. A two stories in one type book because it also covers Homer Chase who was sent south by the Communist Party to recruit Blacks. Told in a story telling style, well narrated and a great work listen if you are a history buff. Parallels the differences in journalistic accounting of seen today. Worth the credit.