Book Regarding Personal Experiences with Race, Racism and the South: THE EDUCATION OF A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN Published on 50th Anniversary of Alabama's University Integration

Share Article

A product of the South, the author reveals his personal struggles with race and racism. His views are often at odds with his moral and spiritual convictions, and he finds himself conflicted -- and at times racked with guilt because of his views -- kept hidden for decades from even his closest friends and family.

When one meets George Devitt, the first impression is that this middle-aged, soft-spoken man is like so many other executives in “Corporate America.” In fact, with his graying hair, conservative dress and executive bearing, he looks like someone sent by “Central Casting” to play the role of a prototypical business executive.

Devitt, whose father was a career Marine, moved often during his youth, but considers Florida his home. But for forty years or more, he harbored a “dirty little secret.” He was, he admits now, a racist. Devitt was not a bomb-throwing, Klan-rally racist. The form of his racism was far more insidious. As a successful corporate executive for almost thirty years, Devitt could, without justification or examination, make or break a man or woman’s career based on his prejudices resulting from the color of their skin.

Well into his 50's, Devitt made a “confession” of the racist views he had harbored for decades. Not to a priest, counselor or therapist, but to a black woman he’d known for three decades. Not just any black woman, this black woman happened to be married to the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder. Dr. Sharon Malone is the woman who received Devitt's confession and when asked, offered her forgiveness. A successful physician who practices in Washington, DC, Sharon Malone is the sister of the late Vivian Malone. While a name unfamiliar to many, her story is not – at least to the generation which remembers the events of the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960’s.

Vivian Malone was one of the two black students who were blocked by Governor George Wallace on the steps of the University of Alabama as they attempted to enroll. June 11th, 2013, will mark exactly fifty years since those historic events which caused a nation and a world to be fixed on their televisions as events unfolded. President John F. Kennedy, his brother, the Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and the eyes of the world were on these two twenty-year old black students whose only goal was to complete their education at an accredited institution. And, as natives of Alabama – the last of the fifty states to integrate its colleges and universities – they believed that they were entitled to an education at one of their state’s public universities. The Courts agreed, and it was the role of the Justice Department and the Attorney General to enforce the orders of the Courts.

History records that the President nationalized the state’s National Guard. Governor Wallace backed down. And Vivian Malone and James Hood enrolled at the University without violence or any major public disturbances.

Upon Devitt making his confession to Dr. Malone, he sought her forgiveness. Dr. Malone gave it freely, upon one condition: she asked that Devitt “memorialize” his views in writing in the form of a book.

Not a published author, "The Education of a Southern Gentleman" is Devitt’s first published book and is available at, among other outlets, The book is planned for release on June 11th, the same day that Dr. Malone will host a screening of the documentary, "Crisis," commemorating the events of five decades earlier.

Recognizing the historical significance of the unfolding events of the time, “Crisis” is a contemporaneous behind-the-scenes documentary filmed during the unfolding of this historic event. The President and the Attorney General provided unprecedented access to the filmmakers who produced "Crisis," which portrays the grace, elegance, dignity and determination demonstrated by two young students who were thrust into the limelight while the subjects of countless threats, taunting and vitriol -- the likes of which few have ever experienced.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

George E. Devitt