An African-American serviceman is gunned down on a rural Georgia road in July 1964. This shocking murder ensnares a wide range of characters including the journalists who cover it, the lawmen who must solve it, the civil rights leaders who capitalize upon it, the politicians who exploit it, and the Atlanta magnate who fears its impact on the New South image he desperately wants to protect. 
Walt Drake kicked off a truly memorable event for the Decatur Rotary Club introducing his longtime friend and fraternity brother, retired WSB anchorman John Pruitt. Walt noted that after John graduated from Davidson College in 1964, he was hired as a cub reporter by WSB in Atlanta.
John became both an eyewitness and reporter to one of the key events of our time in the South, the civil rights struggle. Providing more background on John’s distinguished career, Walt stated that the Civil Rights Act was signed by President Johnson on July 2 and John started work on July 4.
On John’s first day on the job at WSB, he was sent to cover a segregationist rally where four young African American men protesting the meeting were 
nearly beaten to death. John’s story made the national news that night. Not too bad for your first day on the job! With 10 Emmy awards and a member of the Geogia Broadcasters Hall of Fame, John may be the most honored and respected newsroom anchor in Atlanta’s history.
Highlights of John Pruitt’s Talk
During his talk, John stated passionately that he was honored and privileged to have been able to cover the civil rights movement in Atlanta during this unprecedented period of American history in the South. John talked about his new historical novel, Tell It True.
Why did he write a historical fiction novel set in the 1960s? John gave us some background from the era. He is trying to capture a moment in time during the civil rights movement that was truly explosive. A fictional novel allows him to manipulate events to tell a cohesive story and he noted that good historical fiction can enhance the understanding of history. 
He provided some background for the novel. He related that the civil rights movement had been largely non-violent, but opposition became fierce, and we seemed to be moving to a period in time where non-violence was fading, and people were moving towards confrontation on both sides of the issue. John mentioned that no politician could get elected to office unless they were committed to segregation and as an example, segregationist Lester Maddox was elected governor of Georgia in 1966.
He mentioned that in Atlanta, it was only through a few visionary leaders on both sides of the issue in politics, the news media and religion that allowed Atlanta to rise above extreme violence and become a leader in civil rights. These leaders had a choice to make. Would we see nightly images of violent police crack downs on the news or images of peaceful protest in Atlanta? 
The novel employs characters that represent these times: a powerful sheriff running a fiefdom in his county investigates the brutal murder of an African American traveling through Georgia which echoes an actual event. For the sheriff, when the FBI, national news media and religious leaders all come to his door asking questions and making power plays, it changes everything.

John Pruitt Visits Decatur Rotary