Unidentified lynching of an African American male. Circa 1908, Oxford, Georgia.(http://withoutsanctuary.org/main.html
Bennie Simmons, alive, soaked in coal oil before being set on fire. June 13, 1913. Anadarko, Oklahoma.
The corpses of five African American males, Nease Gillepsie, John Gillepsie, "Jack" Dillingham, Henry Lee, and George Irwin with onlookers.
August 6, 1906. Salisbury, North Carolina.
Unidentified corpse of African American male. 1900-1915, Trenton, Georgia.
Silhouetted corpse of African American Allen Brooks hanging from Elk's Arch, surrounded by spectators. March 3, 1910. Dallas, Texas.
Spectators at the lynching of Jesse Washington. May 16, 1916. Waco, Texas.
|The bludgeoned body of an African American male, propped in a rocking chair, blood splattered clothes, white and dark paint applied to the face and head, shadow of man using rod to prop up the victims head. Circa 1900, location unknown.|
The lynching of four unidentified African Americans. Circa 1900, location unknown.
The lynching of Dick Robinson and a man named Thompson. October 6, 1906, Pritchard Station, Alabama.
Unidentified corpse of African American male. Gallows, courthouse-jail, and windmill in background. Nine onlookers, two young boys. 1900-1915
...for the trees to drop...
Here is a strange and bitter cry!
Lyrics of the famed song: "Strange Fruit".
(Recorded by the Late Billie Holiday)
As the dust of the Civil war settled, many Blacks saw an era of prosperity and hope. This dream was cut drastically as a concerted effort was begun by whites to destroy any advances which Blacks had made for themselves. This effort was extremely successful in removing Blacks from the many state and federal offices which Reconstruction had allowed them to hold. But this was not enough.
The architects of the revived South needed something more to further the cause of white supremacy and Black oppression. Out of this need, the era of Jim Crow was born with its "separate but equal" claims. And with it came a wave of violence against America's newest citizens. The social atmosphere of white supremacy which Jim Crow had managed to create soon became a tide of hatred. Bolstered by the idea of the inferiority of Blacks and the protection of "white womanhood," whites saw it as nothing to trample Blacks in a storm of violence.
These attacks included lynchings, burnings, and race riots. And though the majority of this violence took place in the South, the North was by no means immune. For more than a century, angry whites made the life of Black America a continuous nightmare.
Lynching is the practice whereby a mob--usually several dozen or several hundred persons--takes the law into its own hands in order to injure and kill a person accused of some wrongdoing. The alleged offense can range from a serious crime like theft or murder to a mere violation of local customs and sensibilities. The issue of the victim's guilt is usually secondary, since the mob serves as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. Due process yields to momentary passions and expedient objectives.
Men ve över den ogudaktige! Honom skall det gå illa, han skall vedergällas efter sina gärningar. Jesaja 3:11
Burnings of Blacks were commonplace in America following Reconstruction. Primarily the victims were Black males who were often mutilated, shot and beaten... before being burned on pyres. This Black man was beaten, stoned, dragged through the street and then burned alive by onlookers.
His body parts were later sold: as souvenirs, which was often the custom.
Mob lynchings were a common form of death for young Black men. The idea that most of these men were charged with the rape of white women is a false one. Their alleged crimes were numerous: using offensive language; bad reputation; refusal to give up a farm; throwing stones; unpopularity; slapping a white child; and stealing hogs to name a few.
In East Texas a black man and his three sons were lynched for the grand crime of
harvesting the first cotton of the season. Only 19% of those lynched were ever charged with rape. Fewer were ever proven.
It should be remembered that it was not only Black men who were killed during this era. The lynching of Mary Turner best illustrates this. Turner, a pregnant Black woman, was lynched in Valdosta, Georgia in 1918. Turner was tied to a tree, doused with gasoline and motor oil and burned.
As she dangled from the rope, a man stepped forward with a pocketknife and ripped open her abdomen in a crude Cesarean operation. A news reporter who witnessed the killing wrote,
Out tumbled the prematurely born child. Two feeble cries it gave---and received for the answer the heel of a stalwart man, as life was ground out of the tiny form. There was a Silent Protest March of 1917 against lynching which featured the famous banner,
Mother, do lynchers go to heaven?
Voi jumalatonta! Hänen käy pahoin, sillä hänen kättensä teot maksetaan hänelle. Jesaja 3:11 Ida B. Wells was one of the most outspoken crusaders against lynchings, burnings, and other acts of white on Black violence. For forty years she rallied her cause in both America and Europe. A radical for her times, Wells worked feverishly to dispel the myth of the sex-starved, white skin lusting, black rapist. This was an act which put her life in danger time and time again. No pacifist, she stated defiantly that the greatest deterrent against lynching was for every Black man to keep a Winchester rifle at his window. Ida B. Wells wrote several long and detailed studies on lynchings which are still regarded as some of the best works on the subject even today.
White RiotsOften the word 'riot' conveys in one's head the idea of Black urban residents rebelling as seen since the 1960s. But riots were a part of America long before Blacks decided to take part. Throughout the United States, riots erupted as angry white citizenry of all classes took to the streets to terrorize and attack Blacks.
They took place in Memphis, Chicago, Wilmington, and elsewhere. Entire prosperous Black districts were destroyed in Oklahoma, Texas and Florida by jealous whites. These white riots were numerous both in the North and South and were often helped along by the local police or militia.
Many lynchings of course were never reported beyond the community involved. Furthermore, mobs used especially sadistic tactics when blacks were the prime targets. By the 1890s lynchers increasingly employed burning, torture, and dismemberment to: prolong suffering and excite a: 'festive atmosphere' among the killers and onlookers.
Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him. Isaiah 3:11
Here is another little known Black History Fact. This information is in the African American Archives at the Smithsonian Institute. Although not taught in American learning institutions and literature, it is in most Black history professional circles and literature that the origin of the term: 'picnic' derives from the acts of lynching African-Americans.
The word: 'picnic' is rooted from the whole theme of: 'Pick A Nigger'.
This is where individuals would: 'pic' a Black person to lynch... and make this into: a family gathering.... There would be music and a: 'picnic'. ('Nic' being the white acronym for: 'nigger'). Scenes of this were in the movie Rosewood. The black producers and writers should have chosen to use the word 'barbecue' or 'outing' instead of the word 'picnic'.
To attempt to tie lynchings to family outings, where food was served, is to misunderstand the real nature of these events. Rather, they were outbreaks of mass white hysteria, and attempts by groups of Whites to terrorize and brutalize the entire Black communities where they occurred.
Often, they were motivated by alleged acts of violence by Blacks against Whites, alleged disrespect and other breaches of Southern racial 'etiquette', and on many occasions, victims were chosen at random. Although women and children were frequently present, it is more accurate to view these events as collective psychotic behavior, rather than family outings. Lynching had become a ritual of interracial social control and recreation rather than simply a punishment for crime.
If it is necessary, every Negro in the state will be lynched, declared James Vardaman while he was governor of Mississippi (1904-1908).
It will be done to maintain white supremacy.
Malheur au méchant! Il est sur la mauvaise (voie). Car il lui sera fait ce que ses mains aruont préparé. Êsaîe 3.11
Christian-Charles de Plicque, Evangelist/Journalist
Angel House International Missions Ministries Karleby Finland
Article available in: Also in French & Swedish
Strange Fruit: Lyrics & Music by: Abel Meeropol 1939 (A Jewish School teacher)
Angel House International Missions Ministries Finland wishes to express much gratitude to the African American Holocost Society for the use of the photos in this article.