The story of a freed slave who joined with a Confederate soldier to fight for justice in the Jim Crow South will be the focus of the next Conversations on Race and Policing.

Award-winning author Ben Montgomery will present “A Shot in the Moonlight: How a Freed Slave and Confederate Soldier Fought for Justice in the Jim Crow South,” beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, on Zoom. It can be accessed from a PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android at  

The program takes its name from Montgomery’s latest book, “A Shot in the Moonlight,” which tells the true story of George Dinning, a freed slave who in 1899 joined forces with a Confederate war hero-turned-lawyer named Bennett H. Young to search of justice in the South, where laws that enforced racial segregation were on the books at the end of Reconstruction in 1877 through the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s.

A Shot in the Moonlight book cover

Montgomery, who also wrote “The Leper Spy” and “The Man Who Walked Backward,” was a finalist in 2010 for the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting and won the Dart Award and Casey Medal for a series called “For Their Own Good,” about abuse at Florida's oldest reform school. In 2018, he won a National Headliner award for journalistic innovation for a project exploring police shootings in Florida. He was among the first fellows for Images and Voices of Hope in 2015 and was selected to be the fall 2018 T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor at the University of Montana in Missoula.

Montgomery, who also produces a daily news letter on Axios on news and issues in the greater Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area, will be formally introduced by Rafik A. Mohamed, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, who will also facilitate the question-and-answer session. 

Conversations on Race and Policing began in the aftermath of the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of four Minneapolis, Minn., police officers. A video of the incident posted on social media has led to widespread protests, the firing of four police officers, the arrest of one officer on a second-degree murder charge, the other three on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder – and a spotlight worldwide on race and policing.

Previous forums also are posted online (more recordings will soon be available for viewing) on the CSUSB History Club Lecture Series YouTube channel.

The ongoing Conversations on Race and Policing series is hosted by CSUSB students Marlo Brooks and Yvette Relles-Powell.

The series is organized by Brooks and Relles-Powell, CSUSB faculty members Mary Texeira (sociology) and Jeremy Murray (history), Robie Madrigal, public affairs/communication specialist for the CSUSB John M. Pfau Library, and community member Stan Futch, president of the Westside Action Group.  

For more information, contact Robie Madrigal at or Jeremy Murray at