West Asheville. Hank Williams, Jr., David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Schwarzchild, Espy & Radelet

Henry Schwarzchild and Watt Espy, circa 1987.
Watt wrote hundreds of letters to libraries, historians and organizations throughout the U.S., seeking information.  One of the organizations he wrote to in the mid-1970s was the American Civil Liberties Union in New York.  His letters to the ACLU fell into the hands of the Director of their Capital Punishment Project, Henry Schwarzschild (1926-1996), a man who stands second to none on the list of contributors to the anti-death penalty movement in the last half of the twentieth century.[9] To say the least, Schwarzschild was curious about who this Alabama native was who was so interested in the death penalty. In 1976, he arranged to meet Watt in Headland. Schwarzschild was immediately struck by Espy’s work, his impeccable data collection methods, his persistence, and his knowledge. He quickly realized the importance of the project. And so he began to call friends at the University of Alabama, and convinced them to hire Espy as a clerk in the library at the University of Alabama Law School. Consequently, in August 1977, Espy and his collection moved 200 miles northwest to Tuscaloosa, where he made his home for the next 8 ½ years.[10] Until his death in 1996, Schwarzschild was Watt Espy’s strongest supporter. We would not be here tonight honoring Watt Espy had it not been for the invaluable support that Watt received from Henry.
- Excerpt from an essay written by Michael Radelet, Professor of Sociology at University of Colorado at Boulder and death penalty expert. To read full essay, click here.  To see Radelet deliver a speech using this very essay, go to Watty Espy under categories in the right sidebar and search for the dedication ceremony of Watt's archive at the University of New York at Albany (UAlbany).
[9] For a discussion of some of Schwarzschild’s contributions, see Herbert H. Haines, Against Capital Punishment: The Anti-Death Penalty Movement in America, 1972-1994 (1996).
[10] Jay Reevs, Execution Chronicler the Final Punishment (sic), Gainesville Sun, Sept. 20, 1987.
Above is a letter Henry Schwarzchild wrote to Watt Espy in 1980, assisting, encouraging, supporting and advising him.  If you need more evidence for the kind of person Schwarzchild was, simply click here for something pretty profound.   And, for a short clip of Schwarzchild on Firing Line, click here.
To Do Justly: The Life and Times of Henry Schwarzschild Trailer from Jacob Condon on Vimeo.

Henry Schwarzchild and Michael Radelet, circa 1987.

In the '80s, Mike Radelet was a professor of sociology at The University of Florida in Gainsville.  He and Watt Espy had both a unique friendship and a collaborative working relationship that lasted until Espy's death in 2009.  To see what activities Radelet is up to nowadays, click here.


Anonymous said...

We recently had a donor (Gil Wanger) to the National Death Penalty Archive who had his donation named the Henry Schwarzschild collection because he was so fond of Henry. I forwarded the link for Henry's trailer to Gil, who was a close friend of Henry's, and unless I am mistaken, he also knew Watt. As you may know, Gil is an attorney (now retired) in Michigan, who drafted the provision of the Michigan Constitution that prohibits capital punishment. Jim Acker

Anonymous said...

I couldn't find much of anything about the dedication of part of Gil Wanger's death penalty collection in September, but what I did find is below. It was a good event: Mike Meltsner spoke about the death penalty battles of the 1960s and 1970s and Gil added his reflections about Henry Schwarzschild. Here's the link: