In 1981 Michael Donald, a young black man in Mobile, Alabama, was picked up by two members of the local Ku Klux Klan, beaten to death and strung up in a tree.
His killers were seeking revenge after a largely black jury in the city failed to convict a black man accused of murdering a white police officer.
Alabama had a brutal history of racial lynchings, but there had not been one in the state since 1955.
One of Michael Donald's killers was eventually found guilty; the first time in 50 years in Alabama that a white man was found guilty of killing a black man.
Off the back of that conviction, a precedent-setting civil case was taken by Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Centre.
The victory in that case and $7 million award to Michael Donald's mother effectively bankrupted the Klan and ended the protected status of the group and its members in Alabama.
Laurence Leamer is a best selling journalist and non-fiction writer whose latest book, The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan, tells this remarkable true story.
He talks to Kathryn Ryan.