William B. Gravely, professor emeritus of religion at the University of Denver and a native of Pickens County, will discuss his new book about the lynching of Willie Earle Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. in Room 126 of Furman University’s Plyler Hall.
His lecture, “Unwanted Attention: How Greenville Handled the Willie Earle Lynching Case,” is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Furman’s Department of History and the Gilpatrick History Society.
Gravely’s new book, “They Stole Him Out of Jail,” is the story of Willie Earle, a 24-year-old African American who was arrested in Pickens County on Feb. 17, 1947 for the murder of a Greenville taxi driver. Earle was abducted from his jail cell by a mob, and then beaten, stabbed and shot to death.
An investigation produced 31 suspects and 26 confessions, but the defendants were acquitted by an all-white jury after a nine-day trial in in May that attracted national attention.
Gravely will be available to sign copies of the book after the lecture.
Gravely joined the religion department at the University of Denver in 1968, and held joint roles with the university’s Doctor of Philosophy program and the Iliff School of Theology. He is the author of “Gilbert Haven, Methodist Abolitionist,” as well as numerous articles on religion and social change.
Gravely is a 1961 graduate of Wofford College, and holds a master of divinity degree from Drew University and a doctor of philosophy from Duke University.
For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.