Friday, May 28, 2010

Supreme Court Lecture Featured Book About Priest’s Murder in 1921

During the Supreme Court of Ohio’s third Forum on the Law lecture on April 27, an Ohio State University law professor told of how her family’s history and the U.S. history of laws banning interracial marriage led her to write a remarkable book about a 1921 revenge killing of a priest and the resulting trial in Birmingham, Ala.

Sharon Davies, the John C. Elam/Vorys Sater Distinguished Professor of Law at the Moritz College of Law, discussed her book “Rising Road: A True Tale of Love, Race and Religion in America” before a crowd of 200 people in the Supreme Court courtroom.

Davies explained that she came to write the book after becoming interested in U.S. laws banning interracial marriage and procreation in part because of her own personal story of being the daughter of parents who were forced to travel to New York to be married because their union was still illegal in South Carolina.

“It was not until I was 7 years old that these laws were ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court,” she said. “We were considered the evidence of a crime.”

In the book, Davies recounts how Methodist minister Edwin Stephenson murdered Fr. James Coyle on the front porch of the Catholic rectory in August 1921, shortly after learning Coyle performed the marriage ceremony between Stephenson’s 18-year-old daughter and a Puerto Rican.

Here's the video from the event.