The four shots that rang out in Phenix City, Alabama one June night in 1954 became headline news around the world. Crime had flourished in a sin town called the 'poor man's Las Vegas,' but when attorney general Albert Patterson was assassinated on a public street, Phenix City's mob days were numbered. John Patterson continued his father's crusade against crime while pursuing his father's killers. So launched a political career linked with John F. Kennedy and tainted by racial violence in the streets of Alabama.
When his father was murdered two weeks after being elected Alabama attorney general, John Patterson assumed the office and vowed to avenge his father’s death. But the mob eluded his efforts to bring them to justice and Patterson decided to seek the governor’s office in 1958 at a time when racial segregation was the prominent issue in the state. He became the first Southern governor to endorse John Kennedy for president in 1960 and worked hard for his election, only to clash with Kennedy in 1961 over Alabama's tragic involvement in the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion. When Freedom Riders protesting segregation in bus stations were viciously attacked in Alabama in 1961, Patterson blamed the violence on the Freedom Riders themselves – a position that destroyed his friendship with Kennedy and would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Best documentary, Fairhope Film Festival 2008
“The bullet that killed Albert Patterson in 1954 inadvertently killed any hope that Alabama would weather the storms of the Civil Rights era. How that transpired in a part of the tale Clem tells.” Courtney Haden, Birmingham Weekly
“The story of Phenix City has the classic structure of a drama with bad guys and good guys, but the good guys won," Philip Rawls, Associated Press
“A dandy. What the Patterson film does, and does well, is put its subject into the context of his time. Don’t miss it.” Harvey Jackson, Anniston Star
In the Wake of the Assassins is available on Amazon Prime (VOD and DVD)