Anthony Ray Hinton was falsely convicted of murder in Alabama and spent almost 30 years on Death Row. He was convicted because he was black. And he was released in 2015.
In a recent book he describes what it was like for an innocent man to be convicted for murder and await the time, in the cells, for the smell of burning flesh to be his own flesh.
Unbelievably for many, including his own niece, he made friends there with a man called Henry Hays, a convicted member of the Ku Klux Clan.
These two paragraphs from his memoir sum up his attitude to forgiveness of enemies and the wrongness and folly of execution (which he equates with lynching).
"ARH: I wish that I could have included a lot more about the men on death row — why they ended up being where they are. I wish I could have shown how we failed them. I think it was about five of us [on death row] that graduated from high school. Everybody had quit in the seventh and eighth grade. Tell me that society didn’t play a part. We still fail them because we’re spending more money on prison than we are on school. Since I’ve been out, I’ve been to white schools to speak and I thought I was at a college. They’ve got labs — Bill Gates, here they come. I’m saying, “Imagine if you could put something like this in a black neighborhood.”
I think about lynching. They probably lynched one of the greatest scientists of modern times. They probably lynched someone that could come up with a cure for AIDS, Alzheimer’s, cancer. We don’t know what a person can be. Earlier, we spoke of Henry Hays. Henry could still be alive today and could be in the general population getting blacks and white to come together. He could say, “I was brought up to hate. I’m telling you, it serves no purpose. If anyone knows, I know. I lived it.” But society didn’t want him to be an advocate."
I can't wait to purchase this wonderful testimony of a truly remarkable man.