Black and White Justice in Little Dixie: Three Historical Essays

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In 2004, Doug Hunt published "A Course in Applied Lynching," an essay that drew national attention to the 1923 murder of James T. Scott in front of several hundred witnesses, few of whom would testify honestly when the prominent citizen who led the lynch mob went to trial. In 2010 he republished the essay as a short book (Summary Justice) that supported a community-wide effort to understand the Scott lynching and its legacy.

The volume presented here includes an expanded version of the 2004 essay, along with two companion essays about racism and justice in Columbia, Missouri--a heartland city that in many ways typifies all of America. "Names" takes us back to the 1830s to tell the remarkable story of one black couple's fight to free its children from bondage. "Watching the Watchers" takes us forward to 2010 and puts us in the jury box at the trial of a young black man who has been tasered and beaten during a routine traffic stop, and who now faces a charge of refusing to obey a police order. Taken together, the three essays give us a way of thinking more clearly about race and justice in American society, about where we stand now, and through what difficulties we got there.

Black and White Justice

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Doug Hunt is a resident of Columbia, Missouri, and also a full-time student of the city, both its past and its present. In 2010 his work was recognized with the Richard J. Margolis Award, given annually "journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth, humor, wisdom and concern with social justice." His essay on the 1923 lynching of James Scott was listed as "notable" in Best American Essays for 2004. His essay on the 1833-34 struggle of the slave named Sanford to win his freedom was a finalist for in the Missouri Review's editor's prize competition for 2011.

He is an admirer of John McPhee, Tracey Kidder, Melissa Fay Greene, and other nonfiction writers who respect (and even enjoy) hard facts, but who enter imaginatively into the lives of the people they write about. His aim is to combine a historian's accuracy with a novelist's sense of story and character.