Robertson, Suzanne Craig



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 a writer, former statewide legal magazine editor and bar association communicator, where for more than 30 years she interviewed and wrote stories about state Supreme Court justices, recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, lawyer-missionaries, low-income people in need of legal services, women who broke through glass ceilings, the legal system, and more. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, she also recently earned a Master of Arts from the Nasland-Mann School of Creative and Professional Writing at Spalding University in Louisville. She lives with her husband in Nashville. Follow her @suzanne_writes on Instagram and @SuzanneCRobert2 on Twitter/X.

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