In He Called Me Sister: A True Story of Finding Humanity on Death Row, author Suzanne Craig Robertson details her journey from reluctance to true friendship during her challenging fifteen-year relationship with Cecil Johnson, a Tennessee death-row prisoner, who was executed in December 2009. Using letters, poems, and a personal memoir written by Johnson, Robertson tells their mutual story of perseverance, recalling that “differences don’t have to be barriers.”

In the Preface, journalist Bill Moyers explains that Robertson “subtly honors the emotions inevitable in a story of innocence and guilt; of our collectively taking a life; of race and politics, right and wrong, and of wrestling with questions haunted by biblical memories that we confront every day…” In her Foreword, Sr. Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking) sums up the narrative, “[T]his family (including Robertson’s husband and daughter) showed up for Cecil Johnson and he showed up for them. With a bond laced with sadness and joy, he and his circumstances changed the direction of their thinking. And that is something powerful.”

Robertson is the former Director of Communications at the Tennessee Bar Association, as well as the former editor of the Tennessee Bar Journal. In this position, she spent more than thirty years working on stories relating to law and society.


Suzanne C. Robertson, He Called Me Sister: A True Story of Finding Humanity on Death Row, Morehouse Publishing, 2023.