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Henry Francis Hays

Henry Francis Hays

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Henry Francis Hays was a member of the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 in Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, who was convicted and sentenced to death for a 1981 lynching
Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that...

-style murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 of 19-year old African-American Michael Donald
Michael Donald
Michael Donald was a young African American man who was murdered by two Ku Klux Klan members in Mobile, Alabama, in 1981. The murder is sometimes referred to as the last recorded lynching in the United States.-Lynching:...


The lynching was ordered by KKK leaders, reportedly to "show Klan strength in Alabama." Donald was abducted at random from a Mobile
Mobile, Alabama
Mobile is the third most populous city in the Southern US state of Alabama and is the county seat of Mobile County. It is located on the Mobile River and the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 during the 2010 census. It is the largest...

 street by two men, beaten with a tree limb, strangled, and his throat cut to make sure he was dead. His body was strung up in a tree across the street from his home.

A brief investigation took place and the local police claimed that Donald had been murdered as a result of a disagreement over a drug deal (Donald was, in fact, not involved with drugs). Federal attorneys, as well as public pressure, led the FBI to examine case. Hays and fellow KKK member, James Knowles— the two men who lynched Donald— were arrested, tried, and convicted. Knowles, who appeared as the chief prosecution witness, was convicted of violating Donald's civil rights and sentenced to life in prison. Hays was tried six months later and received a death sentence
Death Sentence
Death Sentence is a short story by the American science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the November 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov.-Plot summary:...


While on death row
Death row
Death row signifies the place, often a section of a prison, that houses individuals awaiting execution. The term is also used figuratively to describe the state of awaiting execution , even in places where no special facility or separate unit for condemned inmates exists.After individuals are found...

, Hays was incarcerated at the Holman Correctional Facility
Holman Correctional Facility
Holman Correctional Facility is an Alabama Department of Corrections prison located in unincorporated southwestern Escambia County, Alabama. The facility is along Alabama State Highway 21, north of Atmore....

 in Escambia County, Alabama
Escambia County, Alabama
-2010:Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:*62.1% White*31.9% Black*4.4% Native American*0.2% Asian*0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander*1.5% Two or more races*1.9% Hispanic or Latino -2000:...

. Hays, Alabama Institutional Serial #Z443, entered death row on February 2, 1984. He was put to death on June 6, 1997.

Donald's mother, Beulah Mae Donald, in assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center is an American nonprofit civil rights organization noted for its legal victories against white supremacist groups; legal representation for victims of hate groups; monitoring of alleged hate groups, militias and extremist organizations; and educational programs that...

, sued United Klans of America
United Klans of America
United Klans of America Inc. was one of the largest Ku Klux Klan organizations in the United States. Led by Robert Shelton, the UKA peaked in popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s, and was the most violent Klan organization of its time. Its headquarters were the Anglo-Saxon Club outside...

 in a civil suit. An all-white jury found the Klan responsible for the lynching of Michael Donald and ordered a seven million dollar judgment. This resulted in the Klan handing over all its assets including its national headquarters in Tuscaloosa. Despite earlier KKK leader's plans, the Donald murder conviction ruined the Klan in Alabama.

Hays was executed in Alabama electric chair
Electric chair
Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body...

 Yellow Mama
Yellow Mama
Yellow Mama is the euphemistic nickname given to Alabama's electric chair.First installed at Kilby State Prison in Montgomery, Alabama, Yellow Mama acquired its yellow color when painted using highway-line paint from the adjacent State Highway Department lab. The chair was built by a British inmate...

 after Governor Fob James
Fob James
Forrest Hood James, Jr., known as Fob James , is an American politician, a civil engineer, and an all-American half-back...

refused to commute his sentence. He was the first white person executed for murder of a black citizen in Alabama since 1913. Hays was 42 years old at the time of his execution.