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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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African American Lives 2 Helps Tom Joyner Exhonerate Uncle
October 21, 2009

Thomas and Meeks Griffin, great-uncles to radio personality Tom Joyner, received a posthumous pardon from the South Carolina Parole and Pardons Board. Joyner, his brother, his two sons, scholar and "African American Lives" host Louis "Skip" Gates, and a legal team were present for the unanimous decision.

The Griffin brothers, framed by the actual perpetrator, were indicted in 1913 for the murder of a wealthy Confederate veteran and given two days to prepare their case, which their family sold 130 acres of land to finance. Requests for a delay were denied, and the brothers were executed two years later. The brothers' exhoneration has been repeatedly petitioned but without success.

Joyner first learned the story of his great-uncles when presented with the results of his geneology test on Gates' PBS 2008 special "African American Lives 2." Joyner, Gates, and South Carolina attorney Stephen K. Benjamin proceeded to put together a case petitioning for the exhoneration.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. commented on the events, saying "It's just a great day. justice was served for the Joyner family. I'm sad that it happened to the Joyner family, but I'm glad justice was served. We can't change the past, but we can change how the past is remembered."

Learn more about Tom Joyner



Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
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