Heart-rending, longtime-coming defense of his record by a Chicago detective who paid dearly for blowing the whistle on JFK’s Secret Service.
A native of St. Louis, the author became a Pinkerton detective and then a Chicago Secret Service agent. In 1961 President Kennedy handpicked Bolden for his personal detail in Washington. A self-described “racial pioneer” at each step of his professional career, he was immensely proud to serve as the first black agent on the presidential detail, and grateful for JFK’s sincere commitment to racial equality. However, Bolden soon collided with the “ol’ boys network.” He endured crude racist caricatures drawn in his service manual, separate accommodations in a “Negro Motel,” casual slurs by other agents and a shockingly blatant outburst by his superior: “You will always be nothing but a nigger. So act like one!” In early November 1963, responding to uneasy intuition and visions that had plagued him since childhood, Bolden told superiors that drinking was rampant within the ranks and that if a crisis occurred, the service could not act swiftly or appropriately to secure the president’s safety. He was in Chicago at the time of the assassination, and after that found the Secret Service wary of his outspokenness. Framed for his role in busting a Chicago counterfeiting bond gang, he was forced to take a lie-detector test and arrested by the feds in May 1964. His first trial ended in a hung jury thanks to a lone black juror; in the second, an all-white jury found him guilty. Bolden was imprisoned for more than five years, mostly in the psychiatric ward of the Springfield Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. In September 1969, after a short stint at a prison camp in Alabama, Bolden was granted parole. Many documents in the case have vanished, but the author tirelessly reconstructs the record in his compelling, if somewhat tedious and repetitious look at an attempt to silence an honorable man.
An astonishing tale of aborted justice.