Lynchings in America
A History Not Known By Many
When I was a boy growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, the word lynching was hardly ever mentioned. My parents only said these “mean” acts happened in the country (rural areas) with white men in white gowns (the KKK). In all my schooling, through high school and on to college, lynching was never part of a lecture or connected with American history. I knew of the word, lynching, but never, never the scope of this violent, hateful act.
On Thursday, January 13, 2000, an article entitled, “An Ugly Legacy Lives on, Its Glare Unsoftened by Age,” by Robert Smith was published in the New York Times. This excellent article revealed a world not known by many Americans living today and especially by me. Without my explaining here, it should be read by all persons, especially as it pertains to race and hate. Without understanding this past evil history, we cannot understand why hate is on the rise today in this year of 2000.
After reading the New York Times article, I wanted to know more about lynching and what could possibly be presented on this squeamish subject. It turned out that an exhibit of rare collected photo postcards were on display featuring lynchings as they took place in America from 1883-1960. I saw this exhibit. It was on view at the Roth Horowitz Gallery in New York City until February 12, 2000. This small gallery took in only about fifteen people at a time, and the line was long. Watching the viewers as they exited revealed what was inside: people with tears, some with anguish, some looked surprised with the horror they had seen.
This New York exhibition presented the collected photocards of Mr. James Allen, a white Atlanta resident who, for fifteen years, sought out these images of racial horror and self-righteous vigilante acts as rare finds. Since most of these photocards were kept as “keepsakes” by some families, Mr. Allen had to solicit ads for purchase. He paid from fifteen dollars to as much as thirty thousand dollars for individual cards. The sixty photo postcards and other material were temporarily housed in the library at Emory University to allow scholars to have access to it, but are now being held by their owner at withoutsanctuary.org.
Melvin Sylvester, Feb. 2000
1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana
Photo from the official 1977 Citadel yearbook
1919 lynching William Brown in Douglas County, Nebraska
1935 lynching of Rubin Stacy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Lynching In America
A Book on the Subject
This book, Without Sanctuary: Lynching photography in America (by James Allen, Hilton Als, Leon F. Litwack, with a forward by Congressman John Lewis; Twin Palms Publishers, 2000), is a new, startling book on this shocking topic of lynching in America. This book is an extension of the exhibit held at the Roth Horowitz Gallery and the collected photo postcards of Mr. James Allen of Atlanta, Georgia. Pages of actual real life lynchings are captured with photos and dates with explanatory texts about where these dastardly acts occurred. Mr. Allen says, “Without Sanctuary is a grim reminder that a part of the American past we would prefer for various reasons to forget we need very much to remember.” The book is a vivid account of the existence of lynching on American soil. On view in the book are ninety-eight plates of lynchings and the victims and the people surrounding the actual executions. A few were white; a few were women; but most were African-American men used as prime targets for lynch mobs. To see this book is to try and understand, but it is not for the squeamish viewer or persons not able to transcend reasons why these acts should never have happened.
1936 lynching of Lint Shaw in Royston, Georgia
For Further Reading
About Lynching / Robert L. Zangrando, John F. Callahan, and Dickson D. Bruce, Jr. Modern American Poetry : An Online Journal and Multimedia Companion to Anthology of Modern American Poetry. Urbana, IL : Department of English of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002.
The aesthetics and politics of the crowd in American literature / Mary. Esteve. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003. PS169.C75E88 2003
Covers lynching in literature
American lynching : a documenatry feature / Gode Davis and James M. Fortier. Herndon, VA : Bitter Fruit Productions, 2005.
“This documentary explores racist events and attitudes indigenous to the Northern and Southern states that either condoned or condemned lynching as a practice.”
American Negro short stories / John Henrik Clarke. New York : Hill and Wang, 1966. PS647.A35C55 1966x
Includes “The lynching of Jube Benson” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Anatomy of a lynching : the killing of Claude Neal / James R. McGovern. Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, 1982. HV6465.F6M35 1982
And the dead shall rise : the murder of Mary Phagan and the lynching of Leo Frank / Steve Oney. New York : Pantheon Books, 2003. HV6534.A7O54 2003
Anti-lynching crusaders helped free our country / Philip Dray. Newsday, A39 (741 words), June 15, 2005.
An apology for old form of terror : Senate expected to vote tomorrow on resolution regarding its failure to help end practice of lynching / Martin C. Evans. Newsday, A34 (600 words), June 12, 2005.
At the hands of persons unknown : the lynching of Black America / Philip Dray. New York : Random House, 2002. HV6464.D73 2002
The awful truth: a photography exhibition unearths the painful history of lynching in America / Danny Postel. Chronicle of Higher Education, 48(44):A14 (3 pages), July 12, 2002.
Black manhood on the silent screen / Gerald R. Butters. Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, 2002. PN1995.9.N4B88 2002
Includes “Oscar Micheaux: From Homestead to Lynch Mob”
Call for reconciliation : Minister attacked by Klansmen seeks understanding as alleged mastermind in triple killing faces trial / John Moreno Gonzales. Newsday, A07 (733 words), June 13, 2005.
Crime, but no punishment : Georgia town is still divided over the murders of four blacks nearly 60 years ago / Tina Susman. Newsday, A30 (1633 words), March 30, 2005.
Dangerous liaisons : gender, nation, and postcolonial perspectives / Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, and Ella Shohat. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1997. JC312.D36 1997
Includes “On the threshold of woman’s era : lynching, empire, and sexuality in Black feminist theory” by Hazel V. Carby
The Duluth Lynchings Online Resource : a collection of historical documents relating to the tragic events of June 15, 1920. Minnesota Historical Society. St. Paul, MN : The Society, 2003.
“This web site facilitates access to over 2,000 pages of scanned documents to provide an in-depth and scholarly resource of primary source materials on the subject, designed also for those unfamiliar with this tragic event.”
The Duluth Lynchings Online Resource: historical documents relating to the tragic events of June 15, 1920 / Scott Ellsworth. Journal of American History, 91(1):349-350, June 2004.
Discusses the website: http://collections.mnhs.org/duluthlynchings/
Ebony rising : short fiction of the greater Harlem Renaissance era / Craig Gable. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 2004. PS647.A35E24 2004
Includes “Lynching for profit” by George S. Schuyler
Elite Georgia’s dark secret / Linda Kulman. U.S. News & World Report, 135(13):49, (800 words), Oct 20, 2003.
1915 lynching of Leo Frank
Etiquette, lynching, and racial boundaries in southern history: a Mississippi example / J. William Harris. American Historical Review, 100(2):387 (24 pages), April 1995.
Exorcising blackness : historical and literary lynching and burning rituals / Trudier Harris. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1984. PS153.N5H28 1984
F.B.I. discovers trial transcript in Emmett Till case / Shaila Dewan and Ariel Hart. New York Times, A14 (917 words), May 18, 2005.
A festival of violence : an analysis of Southern lynchings, 1882-1930 / Stewart Emory Tolnay and E. M., Beck. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 1995. HV6464.T65 1995
The first Waco horror : the lynching of Jesse Washington and the rise of the NAAC / Patricia Bernstein. Houston, TX : Patriciabernstein.com, 2005.
Website to accompany the book.
Fresh outrage in Waco at grisly lynching of 1916 / Ralph Blumenthal. New York Times, A26 (1598 words), May 1, 2005.
Gender, class, race, and reform in the progressive era / Noralee Frankel and Nancy Schrom Dye. Lexington, KY : University Press of Kentucky, 1991. HQ1419.G46 1991
Includes “African-American women’s networks in the anti-lynching crusade” by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn
Go down, Moses : the miscegenation of time / Arthur F. Kinney. New York : Twayne Publishers ; London : Prentice HallInternational, 1996. PS3511.A86G6349 1996
Treatment of lynching in the William Faulkner work
Jasper, Tex., and the ghosts of lynchings past. New York Times, A26 (576 words), Feb 25, 1999.
Revulsion at the death of James Byrd Jr. demonstrates a sea change in public sentiment toward lynchings
Judge Lynch: his first hundred years / Frank Shay and Arthur Franklin Raper. Montclair, NJ : Patterson Smith, 1969. HV6457.S5 1969b
The killing season: a history of lynching in America / Philip Dray. The New Crisis, 109(1):41 (3 pages), January-February 2002.
Excerpt from “At the Hands of Persons Unknown: the Lynching of of Black America”
Kin disagree on exhumation of Emmett Till / Gretchen Ruethling. New York Times, A3 (357 words), May 6, 2005.
The legacy of a lynching / Robert F. Worth. American Scholar, 67(2):65 (13 pages), Spring 1998.
“Like a violin for the wind to play”: lyrical approaches to lynching by Hughes, Du Bois, and Toomer / Kimberly Banks. African American Review, 38(3):451 (15 pages), Fall 2004.
Local sequential patterns: the structure of lynching in the deep South, 1882-1930 / Karherine Stovel. Social Forces, 79(3):843 (14134 words), March 2001.
Lynch-law; an investigation into the history of lynching in the United States / James Elbert Cutler. New York : Negro Universities Press, 1969. HV6457.C8 1969b
Lynch Street : the May 1970 slayings at Jackson State College / Tim Spofford. Kent, OH : Kent State University Press, 1988. F349.J13S66 1988
The lyncher in me : a search for redemption in the face of history / Warren Read. St. Paul, MN : Borealis Books, 2008.
Chronicles the author’s experiences with having discovered his great-grandfather’s role in the Duluth lynchings of 1920 and his subsequent search for the descendants of the victims.
Lynching / John Simkin. Spartcus Educational.
Lynching in America : carnival of death / Mark Gado. TrueTV Crime Library : Criminal Minds and Methods. New York : Turner Broadcasting System, [2005?].
A lynching in the heartland : race and memory in America / James H. Madison. New York : Palgrave, 2001. F534.M34M33 2001
The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in the United States, 1848 to 1928 / William D. Carrigan. Journal of Social History, 37(2):411 (29 pages), Winter 2003.
Lynching victim is cleared of rape, 100 years later / Emily Yellin. New York Times, Section 1, 24 (912 words), Feb 27, 2000.
Ed Johnson from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Masculinity : bodies, movies, culture / Peter Lehman. New York : Routledge, 2001. PN1995.9.M46M34 2001
Includes “Lynching photography and the ‘black beast rapist’ in the southern white masculine imagination” by Amy Louise Wood
Media, process, and the social construction of crime : studies in newsmaking criminology / Gregg Barak. New York : Garland Pub., 1994. P96.C74M43 1994
Includes “Communal violence and the media : lynchings and their news coverage by The New York Times between 1882 and 1930″ by Ira M. Wasserman and Steven Stack
Minstrel show; or, The lynching of William Brown (The Plays of Max Sparber) / Max Sparber. Minneapolis, MN : Sparberfans.Blogspot.Com, 1998.
“Retells the story of the real-life murder of an African-American man in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1919, through the narration of two fictional African-American blackface performers.”
The murder of Emmett Louis Till, revisited. / Brent Staples. The New York Times, A16 (912 words), Nov 11, 2002.
New documetary film may cause the 1955 Mississipi case to be reopened
The NAACP crusade against lynching, 1909-1950 / Robert L. Zangrando. Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1980. HV6457.Z36
The Negro holocaust: lynching and race riots in the United States, 1880-1950 / Robert A. Gibson. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. New Haven : Yale University, 1979 ; posted 2005.
The old religion / David Mamet. New York : Free Press, 1997. PS3563.A4345O39 1997
Play about a lynching in Georgia
On looking: lynching photographs and legacies of Lynching after 9/11 / Dora Apel. American Quarterly, 55(3):457-478, Sept 2003.
On lynchings: Southern horrors, A red record, Mob rule in New Orleans / Ida B. Wells-Barnett. New York : Arno Press, 1969. HV6457.B37
Plays of Negro life; a source-book of native American drama / Alain LeRoy Locke and Montgomery Gregory. Westport, CT : Negro Universities Press, 1970. PS627.N4L6 1970
Includes “Judge Lynch” by J. W. Rogers, Jr.
Race, rape, and lynching : the red record of American literature, 1890-1912 / Sandra Gunning. New York : Oxford University Press, 1996. PS173.N4G86 1996
Racial violence and representation: performance strategies in lynching dramas of the 1920s / Judith L. Stephens. African American Review, 33(4):655 (10281 words), Winter 1999.
Racial violence on trial : a handbook with cases, laws, and documents / Christopher Waldrep. Santa Barbara, CA : ABC-CLIO, 2001. KF221.M8W35 2001
Reading rape : the rhetoric of sexual violence in American literature and culture, 1790-1990 / Sabine Sielke. Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 2002. PS374.R35S54 2002
Includes “‘The one crime’ and ‘the real ‘one crime” : rape, lynching, and mimicry in Sutton E. Griggs’s ‘The Hindered hand’”
Remember, and learn : the lessons of racism’s ugly history. Newsday, A38 (223 words), June 15, 2005.
Revolt against chivalry : Jessie Daniel Ames and the women’s campaign against lynching / Jacquelyn Dowd Hall. New York : Columbia University Press, 1979. HV6457.H34
Rope and faggot / Walter Francis White. New York : Arno Press, 1969. HV6457.W45 1969
Rough justice : lynching and American society, 1874-1947 / Michael J. Pfeifer. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 2004. HV6457.P44 2004
Selected works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett / Ida B.Wells-Barnett ; Trudier Harris, editor. New York : Oxford University Press, 1991. E185.97.W55A2 1991
Includes: “Southern horrors : lynch law in all its phases” ; “A red record : tabulated statistics and alleged causes of lynching in the United States, 1892-1893-1894″ ; “Mob rule in New Orleans : Robert Charles and his fight to the death”
Senate issues apology over failure on antilynching law / Sheryl Gay Stolberg. New York Times, A15 (739 words), June 14, 2005.
Senate remorse over lynchings / India Autry. Newsday, A27 (232 words), June 14, 2005.
Senators introduce lynching apology. New York Times, A13 (176 words), February 2, 2005.
The shadow of hate a film / Charles Guggenheim and Julian Bond. Washington, D.C. : Guggenheim Productions, Inc., 1995. IMC Video E184.A1S564 1995bx
Includes the Leo Frank lynching in Georgia in 1913
Strange fruit : plays on lynching by American women / Kathy A. Perkins and Judith L. Stephens. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1998. PS627.L95S73 1998
Their majesties, the mob / John Walton Caughey. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1960. HV6791.C38
Over 50 documents republished from various sources
Thirty years of lynching in the United States, 1889-1918 / National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. New York : Negro Universities Press, 1969. HV6457.N3 1969
The tragedy of lynching / Arthur Franklin Raper and the Southern Commission on the Study of Lynching New York : Negro Universities Press, 1969. HV6464.R3 1969b
An ugly legacy lives on, its glare unsoftened by age : critic’s notebook / Roberta Smith. New York Times, E1 (1445 words), January 13, 2000.
Discusses an exhibit of lynching photographs at the Roth Horowitz Gallery.
Under sentence of death : lynching in the South / W. Fitzhugh Brundage. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 1997. HV6464.U49 1997
Unnatural selections : eugenics in American modernism and the Harlem Renaissance / Daylanne K. English. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2004. PS228.E84E54 2004
Includes “Blessed are the barren : lynching, reproduction, and the drama of new Negro womanhood, 1916-1930″
War of words: the controversy over the definition of lynching, 1899-1940 / Christopher Waldrep. Journal of Southern History, 66(1):75 (2 pages), February 2000.
We are coming : the persuasive discourse of nineteenth-century Black women / Shirley W. Logan. Carbondale, IL : Southern Illinois University Press, 1999. E185.86.L57 1999
“‘Out of their own mouths’ : Ida Wells and the presence of lynching”
We charge genocide : the historic petition to the United Nations for relief from a crime of the United States Government against the Negro people / Civil Rights Congress (U.S.). New York : Civil Rights Congress, 1952. E185.61.C592 1952x
Whispered consolations : law and narrative in African American life / Jon Christian Suggs. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 2000. KF4757.S84 2000
Includes “Lynchings and passing”
“With the past let these be buried”: the 1873 mob massacre of the Hill family in Springtown, Texas / Helen McLure. Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 105(2):293 (29 pages), October 2001.
Without sanctuary : lynching photography in America / James Allen. Santa Fe, NM : Twin Palms, 2000. HV6459.W57 2000
Official website: http://withoutsanctuary.org/
Without sanctuary: lynching photography in America / Grace Elizabeth Hale. Journal of American History, 89(3):989-994, December 2002.
Witnessing lynching : American writers respond / Anne P. Rice. New Brunswick, NJ : Rutgers University Press, 2003. PS509.L94W58 2003
Wounds not scars: lynching, the national conscience and the American historian / Joel Williamson. Journal of American History, 83(4):1221 (33 pages), March 1997.
African Americans in the Twentieth Century
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Long Island University
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