I learned just about an hour ago that Mr. John Seigenthaler, a renowned journalist, champion of human rights, proud Nashvillian, man of faith, and friend of TADP died today at his home surrounded by the family he loved. He was 86.
I had the profound privilege of meeting with Mr. Seigenthaler on several occasions over the past few years as he offered his insight and guidance to me about TADP’s ongoing efforts to repeal the state’s death penalty. He was passionate in his belief that the death penalty was an unfair, racially biased, costly policy that did not honor life but only compounded tragedy and compromised human dignity.
Though his plate was always more than full, he never hesitated to help those of us on the front lines of this work when we needed him. In 2010, Mr. Seigenthaler helped TADP to organize an event at the First Amendment Center, featuring both national and local experts on the death penalty. He also played a crucial role in the successful effort to garner clemency for Tennessee death row inmate Gaile Owens, who came within months of execution, before former Governor Phil Bredesen commuted her sentence in 2011.
TADP board members Amy Sayward and Margaret Vandiver published a book of essays a few years ago called Tennessee’s New Abolitionists: The Fight to End the Death Penalty in the Volunteer State. And once again, Mr Seigenthaler was there to help, providing a blurb for the back of the book stating:
The meaning of the admonition—four words most often forgotten, ignored or intentionally violated–seems so simple: ‘Thou shall not kill.’ Here nineteen essayists remind us that there have been those among us who understood the meaning—and who sought to give Life to The Law.
Thank you Mr. John Seigenthaler for giving life to “The Law.” We are profoundly grateful.
Photo provided by First Amendment Center.
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