J. B. Stoner

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J.B. Stoner
Born (1924-04-13)April 13, 1924
La Fayette, Georgia
Died April 23, 2005(2005-04-23) (aged 81)
La Fayette, Georgia
Occupation Attorney
Parent(s) Jesse Benjamin Stoner Sr.
Minnie Stoner

Jesse Benjamin "J.B." Stoner (April 13, 1924 – April 23, 2005) was an American segregationist convicted in 1980 of the 1958 bombing of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.[1]

He was a founder and long-time chairman of the National States' Rights Party and publisher of its newsletter, The Thunderbolt. Stoner unsuccessfully attempted to run as a Democrat for several political offices in order to promote his white supremacist agenda.

Early life[edit]

Stoner's family ran a sight-seeing company on Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and in nearby Chattanooga. At age two, Stoner contracted childhood polio, which impaired a leg, causing a lifelong limp. His father Jesse Benjamin Stoner, Sr., died when he was five; his mother Minnie died when he was 17.[2]

Stoner admired segregationist politician Theodore G. Bilbo. Stoner became active in white supremacist groups and traveled to Washington, D.C. to support Bilbo.

Education and career[edit]

Stoner rechartered a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Chattanooga when he was 18 years old.[2] Stoner once said that "being a Jew [should] be a crime punishable by death".[1] He ran the National States' Rights Party, which attracted such fringe political figures as Addison Roswell Thompson, a perennial Democratic candidate for governor of Louisiana and mayor of New Orleans.

Stoner earned a law degree, and served as the attorney for James Earl Ray.[3] The Federal Bureau of Investigation also considered Stoner to be a suspect in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and in several bombings of synagogues and black churches during the 1950s and 1960s, such as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

Stoner ran for governor of Georgia in 1970.[1] During this campaign, where he called himself the "candidate of love", he described Adolf Hitler as "too moderate," black people as an extension of the ape family, and Jews as "vipers of hell".[1] The primary was won by civil rights supporter and future President Jimmy Carter. Stoner then ran for the United States Senate in 1972, finishing fifth in the Democratic Party primary with just over 40,000 votes. The nomination and election went to Sam Nunn.

During his Senate campaign, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that television stations had to play his ads due to the fairness doctrine. His ads included the word "nigger". Stoner also ran for lieutenant governor in 1974 and the United States Senate in 1980. His best showing was 73,000 votes (10 percent) in his campaign for lieutenant governor in 1974, when he sought to succeed Lester G. Maddox in Georgia's second highest constitutional office. Maddox lost the gubernatorial nomination that year to former legislator George D. Busbee.

In his 1974 campaign for lieutenant governor, Stoner placed signs on the Macon Transit Company buses, which Mayor Ronnie Thompson ordered removed. Stoner promptly went to federal court to secure the return of his paid signs under his First Amendment protection. He urged, tongue-in-cheek, Georgia blacks to support his nemesis Thompson for governor. Stoner polled more votes for lieutenant governor than were cast for all four candidates in the Republican gubernatorial primary, which Thompson had only barely won.[citation needed]

In 1978, Stoner ran in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and polled 37,654 votes (5.4 percent).

Bethel Baptist Church bombing[edit]

Stoner was a suspect of the 1958 bombing of the Bethel Baptist Church, but was not indicted until 1977. A mostly white jury found him guilty in 1980, and sentenced him to ten years.[4] Stoner was suspected by prosecutors of as many as a dozen other bombings, but was not prosecuted.[1]

After his conviction, Stoner appealed for three years, and when his appeals ran out,[5] he lived in hiding as a fugitive for four months.[6] In 1984, he was permanently removed from the roster of lawyers who may appear before the United States Supreme Court.[7] Stoner was released from prison in 1986 for good behavior, having served 3 1/2 years of his sentence.[4][8] Stoner ran again for lieutenant governor in 1990.[citation needed]


Until his death at age 81, Stoner lived in northwest Georgia at a nursing home, still defending his segregationist views but acknowledging that his side had lost. His left side was partially paralyzed from a stroke.[2] Stoner is buried at Forrest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Published works[edit]

  • Stoner, J.B. (1946). The gospel of Jesus Christ versus the Jews : Christianity's attitude toward the Jews as explained from the Holy Bible. Chattanooga, Tenn: Stoner Anti-Jewish Party. p. 58. OCLC 17628735. 
  • Stoner, J.B. (1974). Christ not a Jew and Jews not God's chosen people. Marietta, Ga.: Thunderbolt. p. 11. OCLC 1674734. 


Ephemeral materials, 198—by J B Stoner; Crusade Against Corruption. Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements, University of Kansas.

Audiovisual recordings[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "J. B. Stoner, 81, Fervent Racist and Benchmark for Extremism, Dies". New York Times. April 29, 2005. Retrieved 2010-12-31. J. B. Stoner, an unapologetic racist whose conviction for bombing a church, divisive political campaigns and vituperations about Jews and blacks made him a benchmark for racial extremism in the United States, died on Saturday at a nursing home in La Fayette, Ga. He was 81. The cause was complications of pneumonia, Judith Ragon, wife of Mr. Stoner's second cousin, Ronald Ragon, told The Associated Press. 
  2. ^ a b c Holley, Joe (28 April 2005). "Virulent Segregationist J.B. Stoner Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "James Earl Ray's Brother Stays At Stoner Headquarters". TimesDaily. 20 February 1978. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "J.B. Stoner, 81; White Supremacist Bombed Black Church". Los Angeles Times. 28 April 2005. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Associated Press (1982-08-14). "AROUND THE NATION; Conviction in Bombing In Alabama Is Upheld". New York Times.
  6. ^ UPI (1983-06-03)."AROUND THE NATION; Segregationist Gives Up To Serve Bombing Term". New York Times.
  7. ^ UPI (1984-10-04). "High Court Bars J. B. Stoner". New York Times.
  8. ^ "Bomber Gets Prison Release". United Press International in the New York Times. November 6, 1986. Retrieved 2010-12-31. J. B. Stoner, convicted in 1960 of a bombing near a black church, left prison today after serving three and a half years of a 10-year sentence. Mr. Stoner, 64 years old, was released early for good behavior. Mr. Stoner, the longtime chairman of the white-supremacist National States Rights Party, was guilty of setting off an explosion near the Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville on June 29, 1958. No one was hurt in the blast.