Phoebe Zerwick | Beyond Innocence (in store)
In conversation with David Zucchino (Wilmington's Lie)
In June 1985, a young Black man in Winston-Salem, N.C. named Darryl Hunt was falsely convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of a white copyeditor at the local paper. Many in the community believed him innocent and crusaded for his release even as subsequent trials and appeals reinforced his sentence. Finally, in 2003, the tireless efforts of his attorney combined with an award-winning series of articles by Phoebe Zerwick in the Winston-Salem Journal led to the DNA evidence that exonerated Hunt.
But Hunt's story was far from over. As Zerwick poignantly reveals, it is singularly significant in the annals of the miscarriage of justice and for the legacy Hunt ultimately bequeathed. Part true crime drama, part chronicle of a life cut short by systemic racism, Beyond Innocence powerfully illuminates the sustained catastrophe faced by an innocent person in prison and the civil death nearly everyone who has been incarcerated experiences attempting to restart their lives. Freed after nineteen years behind bars, Darryl Hunt became a national advocate for social justice, and his case inspired lasting reforms, among them a law that allows those on death row to appeal their sentence with evidence of racial bias. He was a beacon of hope for so many—until he could no longer bear the burden of what he had endured and took his own life.
Phoebe Zerwick is an award-winning investigative journalist, narrative writer, and college professor. Her writing has appeared in O Magazine, National Geographic, The Nation, Winston-Salem Journal, and Glamour, among other publications. Her work has been recognized by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Investigative Reporters, and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, Columbia University, and the North Carolina Press Association, and featured in the HBO documentary The Trials of Darryl Hunt. She is the director of the journalism program at Wake Forest University.
A deeply reported, gripping narrative of injustice, exoneration, and the lifelong impact of incarceration, Beyond Innocence is the poignant saga of one remarkable life that sheds vitally important light on the failures of the American justice system at every levelIn June 1985, a young Black man in Winston-Salem, N.C.
WINNER OF THE 2021 PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NONFICTION
From Pulitzer Prize-winner David Zucchino comes a searing account of the Wilmington riot and coup of 1898, an extraordinary event unknown to most Americans.
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