In a small Southern town, a white man murders a black man, then throws his body in the weeds. With this act of violence–which is loosely based on the notorious 1955 killing of Emmett Till–James Baldwin launches an unsparing and at times agonizing probe of the wounds of race. For where once a white storekeeper could have shot a “boy” like Richard Henry with impunity, times have changed. And centuries of brutality and fear, patronage and contempt, are about to erupt in a moment of truth as devastating as a shotgun blast.
In his award-winning play, Baldwin turns a murder and its aftermath into an inquest in which even the most well-intentioned whites are implicated–and in which even a killer receives his share of compassion.