More than three years ago, in the summer of 2013, I began work on a book about the Whitehurst Case, a police-shooting controversy in Montgomery, Alabama in 1975, 1976, and 1977. The project was brought to me by the youngest son and namesake of the victim Bernard Whitehurst, Jr., and fairly soon I was also meeting with his mother Florence and his brother Stacy. Though Bernard III asked me to help them tell their family’s story, all three family members told me that uncovering information was going to be particularly difficult. They were right.
Next month, I will turn in a nearly 80,000-word manuscript to NewSouth Books, who will publish the book. The content is based on and backed up by hundreds of sources that include police reports, newspaper articles, and personal interviews. I’m confident in the veracity and the fairness of what I’ve written, despite these facts: documents have gone missing, other documents cannot legally be shared, and interview requests have gone unanswered.
This is my last call to anyone who may be aware of my work, but who may not have come forth yet to tell their side of this story. I learned, after my book on Clark Walker was published, how people can appear after the publication, after the book is already on shelves and say, You never talked to ME . . . I learned then that some silent people expect a writer to find them, to find out about them, to magically know that they are out there waiting to be found. While I may be a good researcher who asks tough questions, I’m not telepathic.
Over the last few years, I’ve mailed out interview requests that have gone unanswered, and I’ve searched fruitlessly for addresses and whereabouts— but what I don’t want is for someone to appear after the fact and tell me about some nugget, some tidbit, some detail that only they knew. History and posterity deserve for the story of the Whitehurst Case to be told as fully as it possibly can be.
I’m making my final revisions now, cross-checking my sources, and making sure that my citations are accurate. The research and the fact-finding are over, so if there’s someone out there, waiting to be found, it’s time for you to come to me, and let’s talk.