Black People : THE ROOTS AND LEGACY OF U.S. LYNCHINGS...

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Aqil, Feb 6, 2004.

  1. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2001
    Messages:
    4,029
    Likes Received:
    114
    Location:
    New York
    Ratings:
    +114
    "It is well known that the black race is the most oppressed and most exploited of the human family...that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery which was, for centuries, a scourge for the Negroes and a bitter disgrace for mankind. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after 65 years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching."

    (Excerpted from Ho Chi Minh's International Correspondence, No. 59, written in 1924.)

    Ho Chi Minh, the anti-imperialist communist leader of the Vietnamese people, made this statement at the height of lynchings in the United States, mainly in the South. He spent a number of years living in the United States, which helped elevate his understanding of racist and class injustice, before returning to his beloved homeland. His observations were very illuminating, considering how cruelly the Vietnamese and other Indo-Chinese people were treated by French colonialism and U.S. militarism before their decades-long liberation struggle triumphed. Has there been any real qualitative social change for African-Americans in the United States since Ho Chi Minh's words were published 80 years ago? Has the legacy of horrific lynchings been tossed into the dustbin of history or is it still alive and well today?

    With the rise of class society thousands of years ago, vigilante-sponsored violence along with state-orchestrated violence became commonplace. In the United States, people of color, labor organizers, Jewish immigrants, political radicals and others have certainly felt the wrath of lynchings by those who profess a white-supremacist mentality. Today, for African-Americans, lynchings remain a grim, painful reminder of almost three centuries of being treated as second- and third-class citizens.

    Some historians trace "lynch law" to Col. Charles Lynch, who, during the war of independence by the 13 colonies, was based in Virginia to deal with British colonialists. Slavery was nothing more than institutionalized lynching, since African people were treated as less than human or as property. Historian John F. Callahan writes:

    "During slavery there were numerous public punishments of slaves, none of which were preceded by trials or any other semblance of civil or judicial processes. Justice depended solely upon the slaveholder. Executions, whippings, brandings, and other forms of severe punishment, including sometimes the public separation of families, were meted out by authority or at the command of the master or his representative. Often, slaves from the plantation and, sometimes, nearby plantations were assembled and made to witness the punishment as an example of the master's absolute authority to wield the power of life and death over each and every slave."

    ("The Oxford Companion to African-American Literature," 1997.)

    After the Civil War, freed slaves fought for complete liberation during the Reconstruction period. But lynchings increased dramatically when former Con federate officers and vengeful South ern planters regrouped to form the Ku Klux Klan, White Citizens Councils and other extra-legal groups to literally terrorize Black people back into semi-slavery conditions. With the Compromise of 1877, the federal government pulled out its troops and left the freed slaves at the mercy of these white-supremacist terrorists. As representatives of the interests of the ascendant Northern capitalist class, the government wanted to put a brake on fulfilling the same political and economic rights for Black workers in the South as those generally granted to Northern white male workers, thus keeping wages down by dividing workers along racial lines.

    "Between 1882 (when reliable statistics were first collected) and 1968 (when the classic forms of lynching had disappeared), 4,743 persons died of lynching, 3,446 of them black men and women. Mississippi (539 black victims, 42 white) led this grim parade of death, followed by Georgia (492 black, 39 white), Texas (352 black, 141 white), Louisiana (335 black, 56 white), and Alabama (299 black, 48 white). From 1882 to 1901, the annual number nationally usually exceeded 100; 1892 had a record 230 deaths (161 black, 69 white). Although lynchings declined somewhat in the 20th century, there were still 97 in 1908 (89 black, 8 white), 83 in the racially-troubled postwar year of 1919 (76 black, 7 white, plus some 25 race riots), 30 in 1926 (23 black, 7 white), and 28 in 1933 (24 black, 4 white)."

    (Robert L. Zangrando, "The Reader's Companion to American History," 1991)

    As stated above, these statistics do not take into full account the victims in the "race riots" that began in the late 1800s. These massacres of Black people increased at the end of World War I when Black soldiers, who had been relegated to segregated units overseas, returned home expecting to be treated as full citizens. There was also the infamous Tulsa "race riot" in 1921, when white business owners instigated a massacre upon the prosperous Black community.

    No white person was ever convicted of killing a Black person during these tragic episodes. This racist atmosphere was aided by the "separate but equal" law passed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896 that legalized racist Jim Crow laws in the South and other sections of the United States.

    A recurring "excuse" for the lynchings of Black men has been the alleged rape of white women. Under slavery, while both African women and men were "owned" body and soul, the systematic rape of Black women was viewed as the "property right" of the white slavemaster. The recent revelation that the late arch-racist Strom Thurmond "fathered" a daughter during the 1920s with a Black servant reflects the persistence of semi-slavery conditions. Sexual relations between Black men and white women were socially viewed as taboo from the days of slavery until 1967, when miscegenation laws were struck down by the Supreme Court. This important concession won in the civil-rights struggle legalized the right of Black-white heterosexual couples to marry in the South.

    Just the rumor that a Black man had raped a white woman would signal that a racist lynching would not be far behind. Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was tortured to death by racists in 1955 for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The judicial system began instituting legal lynchings. Hundreds of Black men were executed after being charged with raping white women. Who could ever forget the Scottsboro case in the early 1930s, where nine young Black men were accused of gang-raping two white women in Alabama? The case gained worldwide attention as the Communist Party and other progressives came to the defense of these innocent Black youths. Even though the women finally admitted under oath that no rape had occurred, most of the youths were forced to spend many years in prison until public pressure forced the U.S. government to pardon them.

    There are currently two important cases that could be considered modern-day Scottsboro cases. The case of Darryl Hunt was publicized in a Jan. 5 column by Bob Herbert, an African-American opinion writer for the New York Times. Herbert described how in 1984, Hunt, then 19 years old, was accused of the rape and murder of Deborah Sykes, a 25-year-old white woman in North Carolina. Forensic DNA testing had just been developed. During the original trial it proved that Hunt was innocent of the charge - but still he languished in jail for almost 20 years. Hunt's lawyers forced a public outcry, and finally exposé articles in the Winston-Salem Journal forced the courts to release Hunt this past December on a $250,000 bond pending a hearing in February. His lawyers are hoping that all murder charges will eventually be dropped by the prosecution. Only time will tell.

    The second case has received more national attention. Marcus Dixon, 18, an academically gifted athlete, received a 10-year prison sentence in Rome, Georgia, after being found guilty of statutory rape - a misdemeanor - and aggravated child molestation, a felony. The judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison on the felony charge. Dixon testified that he had had consensual sex with a classmate who was three months shy of her 16th birthday at the time. He stated that she told him her father was a racist and that she feared he would kill the two if he caught them together. (New York Times, Jan. 22)

    A jury found Dixon innocent of rape, sexual battery and aggravated assault, all felonies. Five of the jurors publicly stated that they would not have convicted Dixon on the other charges had they known about the prospect of a long prison sentence. Civil-rights forces, along with defense attorneys, have mounted a nationwide campaign of legal and political pressure on the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn this outrageous conviction and sentence.

    Earl Ofari Hutchinson has assembled figures to show that the U.S. criminal justice system is still racist to the core:

    "According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund...between 1930 and 1996, more than half of all those executed have been African-Americans. When the crime (or accusation) is rape, the death penalty has almost always been exclusively reserved for blacks. Of the 453 men executed for rape since 1930, 405 have been black. Nearly all of them were executed in the South. They were arrested and convicted on the flimsiest evidence, usually no more than the word of a white woman. At the same time, not one white man received the death penalty for raping a black woman. There is no official record in any Southern state of a black man ever being executed for raping a black woman. The victims of all but 44 of the blacks executed in the South from 1930 through 1984 were white. Not much has changed over the years. A black is still 11 times more likely to get the death penalty than a white when the victim is white. At present nearly half of those currently sitting on the nation's death rows are black."

    (Afrocentric News, 2000)

    In the latter part of the 19th century, anti-lynching campaigns sprung up throughout the North and South, led for almost 50 years by the National Association of Colored Women and the NAACP. Ida B. Wells, an African-American teacher, journalist and suffragist, was a leading figure in this struggle. To help debunk the racist theory that lynching was justified to "protect the sanctity of white womanhood," the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching encouraged white women to join this anti-racist campaign.

    Today, institutionalized lynching persists in the police killings of Black youths, like the recent shooting of unarmed Timothy Stansbury in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant community. The incarceration of Black political prisoners for decades in the prison-industrial complex further illustrates how super-exploitation under capitalism - which keeps so many African-Americans in poverty - continues to be maintained through state terror.

    The United States is the most powerful imperialist country largely due to the national oppression of Black people and other peoples of color. African-American activists, in raising the political demand for reparations and targeting U.S. corporations and banks that profited off the sweat and blood of unpaid African slaves, are recognizing this inherited, endemic super-exploitation. The righteous demand for reparations, which deserves the classwide solidarity of all working people, is a small price to pay for all the centuries of immense suffering and degradation that African-Americans have had to endure and fight back against.

    (Copyright: Workers World Service. Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via email: [email protected].)
     
  2. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Aquil,
    Good post. Do you have the book, "Without Sanctuary" by Congressman John Lewis and James Allen? It is a good pictorial digest of lynchings and shows how barbaric the white mind is.
     
  3. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2001
    Messages:
    4,029
    Likes Received:
    114
    Location:
    New York
    Ratings:
    +114
    Thanks Epicurean...no, I don't have that book. I do have 100 YEARS OF LYNCHINGS by Ralph Ginzburg, first published in 1962. It contains some vivid newspaper accounts of lynchings and other racial atrocities. Here are some examples:

    BIRMINGHAM VOICE OF THE PEOPLE
    April 1, 1916

    BUMPS INTO GIRL; IS LYNCHED

    CEDAR BLUFF, Miss. (March 31) – Jeff Brown was lynched by a mob here late Saturday afternoon. Brown was walking down the street near the car tracks and saw a moving freight going in the direction in which wanted to go. He started on the run to board the moving train. On the sidewalk was the daughter of a white farmer. Brown accidentally brushed against her and she screamed. A gang quickly formed and ran after him, jerking him off the moving train. He was beaten into insensibility and then hung to a tree. The sheriff has made no attempt to find out who the members of the mob were Picture cards of the body are being sold on the street for five cents each.

    ************************************************************************************************

    ATLANTA CONSTITUTION
    April 4, 1916

    LYNCHED FROM COURTHOUSE

    IDABEL, Okla. (April 3) – After listening to the evidence at the preliminary hearing here today of Oscar Martin, a negro charged with having attacked a 13-year-old girl, a mob of 500 men overpowered court attaches and hanged the negro from a second-story balcony of the Courthouse.

    Evidently at a previously arranged signal the mob sprang up from among the spectators at the conclusion of the evidence, and while court officers were held prisoners, dragged the negro to the balcony from which he was thrown after one end of a rope had been placed his neck and the other made secure to a post.

    The mob dispersed within a few minutes. Tonight the town is quiet.

    ***********************************************************************************************

    NEW YORK WORLD
    May 16,1916

    15,000 WITNESS BURNING OF NEGRO IN PUBLIC SQUARE

    WACO, Texas (May 15) – Screaming for mercy until the flames silenced him, Jesse Washington, a negro of 18 years, was burned to death by a mob in the public square here today. Many women and children were among the 15,000 who witnessed the lynching.

    Just a week ago the lad assaulted and killed Mrs. Lucy Fryar, a white woman, in her home at Robinson, seven miles from here. There was no question of his guilt, and he got one of the quickest trials on record in this part of Texas. The proceeding ended at noon, when the jury brought in a verdict of guilty, carrying with it the death penalty.

    "I'm sorry I done it," said the prisoner in a whisper, shaking with fear as he saw the crowd in the courtroom rising threateningly all around him with the pronouncement of the verdict. "Get that ******!" was the shout raised by some, and it was chorused by the mob. The leaders made a rush, sweeping officers and lawyers aside. The negro was seized and then was dragged from the courtroom.

    The first suggestion was to hang him from the. suspension bridge, and a chain was tied around his neck and he was dragged, yelling, in that direction. "Burn him!" roared hundreds of voices all raised at once, and the idea pleased the mob.

    So the negro was dragged by the chain to the City Hall square. There the ringleaders stood him under a tree and threw the chain over a limb. Boxes and sticks of wood were piled around him and then he was hoisted over the pile. His clothing was saturated with oil and a match was applied. At a signal the negro was hoisted further in the air, then was let fall into the flames.

    It was all over one hour from the rendering of the jury's death verdict. When the fire had burned itself the charred body was put in a sack and dragged behind an automobile to Robinson, where it was hanged to a telephone pole for the colored populace to gaze upon.

    ***********************************************************************************************

    HOUSTON POST
    June 11, 1900

    TWO BLACKS STRUNG UP; GRAVE DOUBT OF THEIR GUILT

    BILOXI, Miss., June 10 – Lynch law ran rampant in this section last night. Two negro men were lynched, possibly for one man’s crime, early this morning at Mississippi City, and it is not absolutely certain that either victim of mob law was guilty. Henry Askew and Ed Russ, held as suspects, were taken out and strung up to a tree in a thicket, just behind the railway station at Mississippi City.

    Attorney White had promised that they would be brought to trial on Monday and yesterday at a mass meeting held in this city urged the people to support the laws and see that justice was done through the proper legal channels.

    Early last night Sheriff Ramsey, in order to protect Askew and Russ from mob violence, moved them to a bath house. After midnight the mob assembled near the bath house and afterward overpowered a deputy sheriff with whom the sheriff thought to protect his prisoners, and dragged the two negroes away. The crowd, which was supposed to know nothing of the negroes’ hiding place, did not stop at the jail, but went straight to the bath house. The negroes were tied back to back and swung up to the same tree. Their bodies were riddled with bullets, and after their death ensued, were set on fire. The e burning flesh could be smelt for miles around.

    Sheriff Ramsey and Marshal Moseley saw the members of the mob, but it is stated “were unable to recognize them on account of the trees casting shadows on their faces.”

    About 100 men gathered near the scene of the crime, waiting for the appearance of the posse with their prisoners, but were disappointed. The mob was impatient and did its work when the first tree was reached.

    Christina Winterstein, a 13-year-old, was outraged and murdered about two miles from Biloxi on her way home from school exercises. Askew and Russ, both of whom had been in the vicinity of the place where the outrage was committed, were charged with the crime.

    ************************************************************************************************

    NEW YORK NEGRO WORLD
    August 22, 1920

    LETTER FROM TEXAS REVEALS LYNCHING’S IRONIC FACTS

    NEW YORK, August 18 – On July 6, two colored boys, Irving and Herman Arthur, 19 and 28 years of age respectively, were lynched by a mob and their bodies burned, when they were accused of shooting their landlord following a dispute over settlement for a crop. Below we give verbatim a letter written to the NAACP by a reputable citizen of Paris, Texas, where the lynching occurred. His name is withheld for obvious reasons:

    “I am writing you concerning a lynching which occurred here last month. Doubtless you have long since gotten the details, and if not I will give you facts as I witnessed them.

    Herman and Irving Arthur, Negroes, with their parents were tenants on Hodges Farm. They were on halves – a system whereby the landlord furnishes his tenants, and at harvest time takes half the crop and the amount with interest which he furnished his tenants during the year.

    Against the usual custom here, Hodges wanted them to work all day every Saturday. This they did for a while, washing their clothes on Sunday. When they refused to work Saturdays, Hodges came to their house on the farm three days before the murder and took the family dinner off the cook stove, threw it into the yard – his son holding a gun on the Arthur family.

    He also threw the furniture and cook stove out of the house, made the boys pull off their overalls and shoes; the girls were forced to surrender their dresses and other clothing, which Hodges carried away with him, together with groceries, claiming they were in debt to him. After this occurred, the family decided to move and secured a truck for this purpose. Hodges fired on them when they were attempting to load the vehicle with their personal effects. One of the Arthur boys ran to the house, got his shotgun and killed the white man and his son.

    The Arthur boys were soon arrested and pleaded self-defense in the murder of Hodges. They were brought to the jail in Paris. Hours before, signs were displayed throughout the city announcing the forthcoming lynching. One that I saw said: ‘******* caught. Black brutes who killed Hodges will be burned in the fairgrounds. Be on hand.’

    A mob of about 3,000 awaited the arrival of the prisoners. Preparations had been made to burn them at the fairgrounds, and ‘Old Glory’ was pulled from the flag pole and to this the men were chained, tortured, saturated with oil and burned to a crisp. Their charred, smoking bodies were then chained to an automobile and dragged for hours through the streets, particularly in sections inhabited by our race. It was a regular parade of 17 cars and a truck, all filled with armed men, crying aloud, ‘Here they are; two barbecued *******. All you ******* come see them and take warning.’

    The three Arthur girls, aged 14, 17 and 20, were in jail on the pretense of protection. They were severely beaten for screaming while the mob was taking their brothers from the jail. Later on in the night they were taken to the basement, stripped of all their clothing, and there assaulted by 20 white men, after which they were given a bucket of molasses, a small sack of flour and some bacon and told to hit the road.

    Hundreds of Negroes have left Paris since this occurrence. Others who have real estate are planning to leave as soon as possible.

    (100 YEARS OF LYNCHINGS, Ralph Ginzburg, Black Classic Press, 1962,1988.)
     
  4. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2001
    Messages:
    4,029
    Likes Received:
    114
    Location:
    New York
    Ratings:
    +114
    And check this one out:

    THE MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL
    January 14, 1922

    INTERRACIAL LOVE AFFAIR ENDED BY LYNCHING OF MAN

    FLORENCE, S.C. (Jan.13) – One negro was killed and another wounded Sunday by a mob of white citizens in the Black River section of Williamsburg county. The dead man is accused of having been intimate with a white woman.

    The wounded negro was driving a buggy into which the other man had leaped in an attempt to elude the mob. Letters from the white woman were found in the pocket of the dead man after the lynching. One of them read as follows:

    “Dearest Ed:

    I thought of you all during the show last night, and wanted you with me. It is too bad that we cannot be together always. My love for you is greater than you can imagine. Sometimes I become so disgusted with conditions in Florence that I want to leave and go some place where people are sensible, where I can at least walk the streets with you in the daytime without danger and fear.

    You often impress on me the fact that you are colored and can’t take any chances. I know that, darling, but love is greater than color in my case, and we must do the best we can until both of us are in position to leave Florence.

    I suppose you got the package I sent by mail to the barbershop for you. I have to be careful in buying things downtown because my little niece goes along with me and is so nosey. I had a beautiful shirt for you, but had to give it to my cousin because my niece saw me purchase it.

    Be a good boy and don’t forget tomorrow.

    Yours,

    ‘DEVOTED’”


    After learning of the lynching the woman spent Sunday night in the swamps, crossing over the county line to Kingstree on Monday to seek the protection of the sheriff there.

    (100 YEARS OF LYNCHINGS, Ralph Ginzburg, Black Classic Press, 1962,1988.)
     
  5. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2001
    Messages:
    4,029
    Likes Received:
    114
    Location:
    New York
    Ratings:
    +114
    It was difficult for me to read this book at first, because it was hard for me to believe these horrible things actually happened to my people. And according to the article, no white person was ever convicted of killing a Black person during these tragic times...not one white man received the death penalty for raping a Black woman...and there is no official record in any Southern state of a Black man ever being executed for raping a Black woman...

    :mad:
     
  6. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2001
    Messages:
    4,029
    Likes Received:
    114
    Location:
    New York
    Ratings:
    +114
    Historian John F. Callahan writes:

    "During slavery there were numerous public punishments of slaves, none of which were preceded by trials or any other semblance of civil or judicial processes. Justice depended solely upon the slaveholder. Executions, whippings, brandings, and other forms of severe punishment, including sometimes the public separation of families, were meted out by authority or at the command of the master or his representative. Often, slaves from the plantation and, sometimes, nearby plantations were assembled and made to witness the punishment as an example of the master's absolute authority to wield the power of life and death over each and every slave."

    ("The Oxford Companion to African-American Literature," 1997.)
     
  7. NNQueen

    NNQueen going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2001
    Messages:
    6,376
    Likes Received:
    1,431
    Gender:
    Female
    Ratings:
    +1,863
    Aqil, it took me a while before I could read this thread. It brought back memories of stories that my father and grandfathers used to tell me when I was a child growing up in the south.

    I can remember my dad telling me stories about when he was a young man travelling throughout the south with a negro baseball team and the horrors that Black men faced each and every day. He said they were always scared of being stopped, found guilty on the spot for nothing more than just being Black and being hung from a nearby tree, never to be heard from again nor vindicated. A Black man around a white woman was not a situation you wanted to find yourself in. I can remember the lectures that my father would give my brother when we started attending an all white school due to school desegregation. My father always feared for my brother's safety and rightfully so because we found that white girls were much bolder and more sexually aggressive than we were. At the time, I thought that lynching Black men was a thing of the past because we didn't see it like in the days when my father was younger. How naive we were then. I know better now.

    It's not easy being Black is it? Ida B. Wells was a hero of mine when I later learned that she was a prominent figure in leading an anti-lyching campaign and at the risk of her own safety.
     
  8. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2001
    Messages:
    34,792
    Likes Received:
    8,984
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    betwixt and between
    Ratings:
    +9,684
    the lynchings continue ... progressing even ... to include us lynching each other

    :heart:

    Destee
     
  9. Kadijah

    Kadijah Banned MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2013
    Messages:
    6,265
    Likes Received:
    2,947
    Ratings:
    +2,952
    Lots of children were lynched - witness 14 year-old Emmit Till.
     
  10. NNQueen

    NNQueen going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2001
    Messages:
    6,376
    Likes Received:
    1,431
    Gender:
    Female
    Ratings:
    +1,863
    Laura Nelson

    Laura Nelson was lynched on May 23, 1911 In Okemah, Okluskee, Oklahoma. Her fifteen year old son was also lynched at the same time but I could not find a photo of her son. The photograph of Nelson was drawn from a postcard. Authorities accused her of killing a deputy sheriff who supposedly stumbled on some stolen goods in her house. Why they lynched her child is a mystery. The mob raped and dragged Nelson six miles to the Canadian River and hanged her from a bridge.(NAACP: One Hundred Years of Lynching in the US 1889-1918 )
     
Loading...

Users found this page by searching for:

  1. www.williamsburg county lynchings