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Alabama Attorneys General

Richmond Flowers

 

Attorney General: 1963-1967

 

Richmond McDavid Flowers was born on November 11, 1918, in Dothan, Alabama, the fourth son of John Jefferson and Ila McDavid Flowers. He attended Auburn University and law school at the University of Alabama.

 

In November 1942 he was drafted into the army and attended Officer Candidate School at Camp Barkley, Texas. Flowers was assigned to the headquarters of General Douglas McArthur and served as a hospital administrator in the Far East Theater's Surgeon's Office. He attained the rank of captain before he was discharged from the service in April, 1946. That same month he married Mary Catherine Russell in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He returned to law school and completed his legal studies, setting up a small practice in Dothan. His interest in establishing a charity hospital in Dothan prompted Flowers to run for the Alabama Senate in 1954. Flowers was successful in his race and supported much of the legislative agenda of Governor Jim Flosom during his second administration.

 

Flowers ran for and was elected Attorney General in 1962 during the height of the Civil Rights movement in Alabama. In September 1965 he prosecuted Lowndes County Deputy Sheriff T. L. Coleman for the murder of Episcopal seminarian Jonathan M. Daniels and the attempted murder of Catholic priest Richard F. Morrisoe. Daniels and Morrisoe had been arrested with Southern Christian Leadership Conference members attempting to register local black voters. A local jury determined Coleman had acted in self-defense and acquitted him. Flowers also prosecuted four Ku Klux Klansmen for the murder of Detroit housewife Viola Liuzzo, who was gunned down while transporting civil rights workers during the Selma to Montgomery March. Again, a local jury acquitted the accused, although they were later tried and convicted in federal court of violating Liuzzo's civil rights.

 

Relying heavily on the support of newly registered black voters, Richmond Flowers campaigned for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1966, and in a field of twelve, came in a distant second to Lurleen Wallace. His liberal position on civil rights cost him the support of most of the state's conservative voters.

 

Flowers was indicted in federal court in August 1968 of violation of the Hobbs Act, attempting "to obstruct or affect interstate commerce by committing or conspiring to commit extortion" (Hayman, 262).He was convicted on February 27, 1969 and sentenced to eight years. When his last appeal was denied he entered the federal prison in Texarkana, Texas in April, 1972. He was later transferred to the minimum security facilty at Eglin Field, Florida. He was paroled in the fall of 1974 and received a presidential pardon from Jimmy Carter in 1978.

 

Richmond Flowers died on August 9, 2007.

 

Authorities:
John Hayman. Bitter Harvest: Richmond Flowers and the Civil Rights Revolution. Montgomery, Ala.: Blackbelt Press, 1996.