Jennifer Berry Hawes is a reporter at The Post and Courier in Charleston, where she works on the Watchdog and Public Service team, which focuses on investigations and other in-depth stories. She was part of the team that produced “Till Death Do Us Part,” a series about domestic violence that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2015. She also was a Pulitzer finalist in feature writing in 2019 for a series of stories that re-examined the 1944 execution of George Stinney Jr., a 14-year-old African American youth, and clues that point to a wealthy white man as the real killer. Her book, Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness, chronicles the Emanuel AME Church shooting and its impact on the survivors and victims’ loved ones. Jennifer graduated from Roosevelt University in Chicago and now lives in Charleston with her husband and two children.
Grace Will Lead Us Home has been nominated for several highly-acclaimed literary and peace prizes including the 2020 Christopher Award for best Books for Adults, who honors outstanding books every year. The Dayton Literary Peace Prize , which recognizes the power of the written word to promote peace, named Grace Will Lead Us Home as a nonfiction finalist for 2020. Previously, the title was shortlisted for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and nominated for the 2020 Silver Gavel award.
Jennifer has appeared on all the major cable TV news networks to discuss the Emanuel shooting, Dylann Roof’s trial, and her new book. She has been interviewed by The Washington Post and on multiple NPR shows, national Christian radio, and regional NPR affiliates, among many others. She has delivered talks about Grace Will Lead Us Home at many bookstores, including Parnassus in Tennessee and Litchfield Books in South Carolina, as well as the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta. She also delivered the keynote address at the annual gala of a major AME church in Charleston and delivered an address at the Call Me Mister Leadership Institute at Clemson University.Download Bio
Grace Will Lead Us HomeThe Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness
St. Martin's Press
A deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes.
Grace Will Lead Us Home was named a 2020 nonfiction finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
Grace Will Lead Us Home shortlisted for 2020 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize Honors the best in American nonfiction writing.
Jennifer Berry Hawes discusses Grace Will Lead Us Home on NPR’s “Walter Edgar’s Journal.”
Read the New York Times‘ review of Grace Will Lead Us Home.
Grace Will Lead Us Home an editor’s pick for Plough Quarterly Magazine.
ABC 4 News interviewed Hawes on Grace Will Lead Us Home.
O, the Oprah Magazine names Grace Will Lead Us Home as one of the Best Books by Women of Summer 2019.
NPR’s “On Second Thought” interviews Hawes on Grace Will Lead Us Home.
Read Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s feature on Hawes and Grace Will Lead Us Home.
Review of Grace Will Lead Us Home from Sojourners Magazine.
Check out Hawes’ guest appearance on FOX 5 Atlanta.
Grace Will Lead Us Home is one of the New York Times‘ 100 Notable Books of 2019.
Listen to Hawes talk about the Emanuel AME Church shooting anniversary with an AME minister on the NPR show 1A with Joshua Johnson.
NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with Jennifer Berry Hawes about Grace Will Lead Us Home on the Weekend Edition Sunday.
NPR’s The Takeaway with John Hockenberry interviewed Hawes when Dylann Roof’s sentencing trial began in 2017.
—The New York Times Editor's Choice
"In Grace Will Lead Us Home, Hawes delivers a rich and powerful account of the events, actors and consequences of the Mother Emanuel tragedy, drawing upon her considerable talents as a decorated investigative journalist."
—Charleston Post and Courier
"In heartbreaking detail, this tour de force of reportage contrasts the goodness and bravery of the victims with the actions of the dead-eyed killer on a mission of hate."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
"Fresh and compelling… Hawes captures candid scenes deftly. People are drawn with insight and depth, and the book’s pace clips along like that of a cliff-hanger or mystery."
"Hawes is a poised writer and a patient observer... She lands the book with moral force and great feeling."
—The New York Times (weekday book review)
"Hawes is a talented storyteller, recounting every phase of this saga while focusing on the individual tales of survivors and family members. At once horrifying and inspiring, engaging and thought-provoking, this is a definitive must-read about the Charleston tragedy."
—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
"A groundbreaking, accessible work of investigative reporting."
—Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
"With empathy and kindness, Hawes bears witness to one of the most horrific incidents in recent American history."
—Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"Grace Will Lead Us Home is more than a recounting of the crime and its aftermath... Hawes reflects on the power of anger, pain, and forgiveness in this moving and personal look at a group of people whose legacies are shaping today’s South."
—Garden & Gun
“In Grace Will Lead Us Home, Jennifer Berry Hawes breathes poetry into tragedy to bring to life the epic grief that haunted a nation’s moral imagination. Written like a novel, observed like a sage, and narrated with scholarly rigor, Hawes’ stirring account of a dark night in Charleston shows how it seared the American conscience while forcing lionized politicians to find courage, and tin man religious leaders to find a heart, for the people they both claimed to serve. If white supremacy is ever to meet a death knell, this ringing endorsement of fallen yet redeemable humanity will echo loudly in our hearts."
—Michael Eric Dyson
"The great value of this book is that it tells the stories of the survivors and victims’ families on their own terms, in all of their humanity, while also showing us how Charleston's tortured history of racism and gun violence came together on that night in June."
"Jennifer Berry Hawes has written a remarkable document on one of the most horrific acts of this young century. But it's her ability to connect a series of carefully-observed scenes—the difference in size and location of two monuments, a Republican governor's story of racism (and the state representative who took out his hearing aid in response), a dialogue between a husband and wife about the biblical Parable of the Sower—that gives this book its power. Together, they evoke the racially charged soil on which this tragic event took place and remind us of the cost of failing to challenge romantic notions of the South's racial history."
—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.