Speakers Friday, May 12, 2023
Deeply poignant and astonishingly personal, this “moving story of a death in Tennessee” (Bill Moyers) shows hope can endure, grace can redeem, and humanity can exist―even in the darkest of places
It was a clash of race, privilege, and circumstance when Alan Robertson first signed up through a church program to visit Cecil Johnson on Death Row, to offer friendship and compassion. Alan’s wife Suzanne had no intention of being involved, but slowly, through phone calls and letters, she began to empathize and understand him. That Cecil and Suzanne eventually became such close friends―a white middle-class woman and a Black man who grew up devoid of advantage―is a testament to perseverance, forgiveness, and love, but also to the notion that differences don’t have to be barriers.
This book recounts a fifteen-year friendship and how trust and compassion were forged despite the difficult circumstances, and how Cecil ended up ministering more to Suzanne’s family than they did to him. The story details how Cecil maintained inexplicable joy and hope despite the tragic events of his life and how Suzanne, Alan, and their two daughters opened their hearts to a man convicted of murder. Cecil Johnson was executed Dec. 2, 2009.
Suzanne Craig Robertson is the author of “He Called Me Sister: A True Story of Finding Humanity on Death Row” (Morehouse Publishing, 2023). She has served as the director of communications of the Tennessee Bar Association and is a former editor of the Tennessee Bar Journal, where, for more than three decades, she covered stories at the intersection of law and society. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and received her master of arts in writing in 2022 from Spalding University in Louisville. She and her husband Alan, who are lifelong Nashvillians, have two daughters and two grandsons.
Our Current Speaker Schedule
|11/10/23||Virginia Ballard — Exec Dir, Project C.U.R.E.|
|11/17/23||Julia Tanner and Beth Easter — Cello and Story: An Autumn/Thanksgiving Surprise|
|11/24/23||No Meeting — Have a Thanksgiving filled with grattitude|
|12/1/23||Leslie Ann Browning — Vanderbilt Children’s Surgery Programs|
|12/8/23||Dr. Alex Langerman, Surgeon — Value of Recording and Data Science in Surgery|
|12/15/23||Daryl Curry — Education in Metro Nashville|
|12/22/23||Enjoy the Holiday Season–no meeting|
|12/29/23||Enjoy the Holiday Season–no meeting|
|1/5/24||Jim Shulman — “A New Year for Me As Professor”|