He Called Me Sister

A True Story of Finding Humanity on Death Row

Suzanne Craig Robertson, Foreword by Sister Helen Prejean

Feb/2023, 240 Pages, HARDCOVER, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9781640655959

The fascinating, moving story of a friendship with an inmate on death row.

It was a clash of race, privilege, and circumstance when Alan Robertson first signed up through a church program to visit Cecil Johnson on Death Row, to offer friendship and compassion. Alan's wife Suzanne had no intention of being involved, but slowly, through phone calls and letters, she began to empathize and understand him. That Cecil and Suzanne eventually became such close friends—a white middle-class woman and a Black man who grew up devoid of advantage—is a testament to perseverance, forgiveness, and love, but also to the notion that differences don’t have to be barriers.

This book recounts a fifteen-year friendship and how trust and compassion were forged despite the difficult circumstances, and how Cecil ended up ministering more to Suzanne’s family than they did to him. The story details how Cecil maintained inexplicable joy and hope despite the tragic events of his life and how Suzanne, Alan, and their two daughters opened their hearts to a man convicted of murder. Cecil Johnson was executed Dec. 2, 2009.

SUZANNE CRAIG ROBERTSON is a writer and the editor of the Tennessee Bar Journal. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, she also recently earned a Master of Arts in writing from the Sena Jeter Nasland-Karen Mann School of Creative and Professional Writing at Spalding University in Louisville. She lives with her husband in Nashville, Tennessee, twenty minutes and worlds away from Riverbend Maximum Security Prison.

SISTER HELEN PREJEAN, CSJ is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph and author of the bestselling book Dead Man Walking.


  • prison ministry
  • social justice
  • anti-racism

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