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After some time, the FBI became involved and found evidence linking Hays and Knowles to the crime. Two and a half years later, Hays and Knowles were arrested. Hays was placed on death row and executed in 1997.

Hays was the first white man executed for a “white-on-black” crime in the state since 1913. Knowles testified against Hays to avoid the death penalty, and was given a life sentence. A third accomplice, Benjamin Cox, was convicted in 1989 and given life in prison as well.

Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, brought a wrongful death suit against the United Klans of America on behalf of Donald’s mother in federal court in the Southern District of Alabama.

The $7 million lawsuit was settled, and it bankrupted the United Klans of America. Donald’s mother used the settlement to buy her first home. In 2006, Sam Jones, Mobile’s first Black mayor, named a street after Michael Donald in a ceremony.

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Little Known Black History Fact: Michael Donald  was originally published on

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