Fighting the Devil in Dixie

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More About This Title Fighting the Devil in Dixie


Shortly after the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Ku Klux Klan—determined to keep segregation as the way of life in Alabama—staged a resurgence. The strong-armed leadership of governor George C. Wallace, who defied the new civil rights laws and became the poster child for segregationists, empowered the Klan’s most violent members. An intimidating series of gruesome acts of violence threatened to roll back the advances of the nascent civil rights movement.
As Wallace’s power grew, however, blacks began fighting back in the courthouses and schoolhouses, as did young Southern lawyers including Charles “Chuck” Morgan, who became the ACLU’s Southern director; Morris Dees, who cofounded the Southern Poverty Law Center; and Bill Baxley, Alabama attorney general, who successfully prosecuted the bomber of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and legally halted some of Wallace’s agencies designed to slow down integration.
All along, journalist Wayne Greenhaw was interviewing Klan members, detectives, victims, civil rights leaders, and politicians of all stripes. In Fighting the Devil in Dixie, he tells this dramatic story in full for the first time—from the Klan’s kidnappings, bombings, and murders of the 1950s to Wallace’s run for a fourth term as governor in the early 1980s, in which he asked for forgiveness and won with the black vote.
Fighting the Devil in Dixie is an essential document for understanding twentieth-century racial strife in the South and the struggle to end it.


Wayne Greenhaw covered Alabama state government, the Wallace administrations, and civil rights for local and national publications. A winner of the Harper Lee Award as Alabama’s distinguished writer, his other books include The Thunder of Angels, the definitive account of the Montgomery bus boycott.


Fighting the Devil in Dixie does more than take you behind the picket lines, along the dark country roads, and under the white hoods of the civil rights struggle. It takes you inside its very skin, and inside the South’s broken heart. Wayne Greenhaw did not just cover this era, he lived it, really lived it, in conscience, in soul, as well as mind. I’m glad this book got made, and glad he made it.” —Rick Bragg, author of All Over but the Shoutin’, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Ava’s Man

“Wayne Greenhaw writes about civil rights with a journalist’s skills, the ease of a natural-born storyteller, an insider’s perspective, and a sensitive Southerner’s understanding. He was there during the quintessential events of the modern movement, and now you can be too. I recommend it.” —Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former chairman of the NAACP

“Wayne Greenhaw has long been the dean of Alabama journalism—the oracle for visiting national reporters in search of The Story. It’s no surprise, then, that his account of the progressives who took on the state’s racist status quo is authoritative, intimate, and gripping. A valuable addition to the civil rights bibliography.” —Diane McWhorter, author of Carry Me Home

“[This is] the dramatic story of the brave, determined black and white Southerners who took on the haters in Alabama and, against all odds, turned the tide against them. It is an intimate, knowledgeable and overdue account, heartening in its reminder that it is as possible as it is necessary to confront and overcome evil in your own backyard.” —Hodding Carter III, journalist, politician, and educator

“This is such a fresh take on the civil rights struggle. Wayne Greenhaw grew up living and then covering all of this, reporting the good fight then, and now memorably documenting it in this wonderful book.” —Paul Stekler, director, George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire