What is Lynching? An illegal execution of one or more individuals by a mob of two or more in the name of justice, race or tradition Expression of the community’s will
Theories of Lynching 1. Socio-Economic Theory 2. Caste Theory 3. Sociological Theory 4. Psychological Theory [Freud] 5. Gender Theory 6. Southern Honor Theory
Lynching Lynching took the place of “the merry-go-round, the theatre, symphony orchestra” (H.L. Mencken) For crimes, such as murder, rape, or theft But also, people were lynched for insulting a white person, buying a car… Or even, especially if it was a lynching of an black man, for no crime at all. Just to remind blacks to stay in their place.
Why so many Lynchings in Florida? A state of the Old and New South
John Hodaz Lynching: Xenophobia Hungarian immigrant lynched in Plant City, Florida: 1930 What was unique about his lynching?
The Smoaks Lynchings: 1931 The lynching of two black turpentine camp workers. Offense: Fighting with a white man
Henry Woods Lynching: 1932 Alleged Crime: Theft and killing white police chief Captured by white Posse Shot and burned at the stake
Neal Lynching Advertised ahead of time before it happened Governor David Sholtz did not stop it Brutal and Savage lynching
Professor Matt Clavin: UWF Education: Ph.D., History, American University, 2005 M.A., History and Public Policy, George Washington University, 1999 B.A., History, Bloomsburg University, 1994.
Lynching: Ritualized White Hate Crime Allegation Manhunt Capture Torture, Mutilation and Castration Death to the Victim Public Display of the victim’s remains How many of these can be seen in the Claude Neal Lynching?
Lynching Rate of 1930s for Florida? Highest lynching rate in the South during the 1930s
Origins of Lynching American frontier mentality Needed to take due process in their own hands Revolutionary-era popular sovereignty “enshrined” white privilege in American life
Lynch Law and Early Forms of Lynching Charles Lynch established informal courts to try horse thieves, suspected Tories tied convicted to trees and gave them multiple lashes Lynch was tried in Virginia court but it was declared that the “Lynch Law” had been appropriate because of the hysterical conditions of war Early 19 th century: “The Regulators” (White Caps) - bands of citizens who punished criminals nonlethally (tar + feathering) Vigilance committees
Why Did the Community Approve of Lynchings? Lynching became a fast alternative to due process outcome is the same as a trial, simply expedited Bonds within the community are strengthened Exciting, spontaneous activity with the entire town Criminals were getting what they deserved The greater (white) community, especially white women, needs to be protected, despite some minor brutality
Anti-Lynching Legislation Wagner-Costigan Bill (1934) Provisions: mob: 3+ persons State officer’s neglect--->5 yr prison sentence and $5,000 fine Conspirators-->5-25 yr prison sentence County where lynching occurs: $2,000-$10,000 fine (to family, or to federal government if there is no family) To prove that summary execution does not save the public money Does not openly condemn lynching- criminalizes negligence by officials Was also defeated by Southern Senators in a filibuster
Wagner-Van Nuys Bill + Gavagan Bill (1937) Pro-legislation senators willing to protest the filibuster, but faced strong dissent from Southern senators FDR decided not to speak out against the filibuster The anti-lynching movement had seventy senators and therefore, had the opportunity to challenge the filibuster and force a vote. But not all seventy were willing to challenge FDR’s decision nor stir resentment in Southern senators because of their control over several committees Anti-Lynching Legislation
Presidential Reactions to Lynching “loosening of the bonds of civilization” black man’s runaway sexual appetite educated blacks could help eliminate the practice of lynching if they turned in fellow colored criminals to the state Teddy Roosevelt Any American “who takes part in the action of a mob…is no true son of this great democracy, but its betrayer” Woodrow Wilson, as motivated by the NAACP Lynching is a “very sore spot on our boast of civilization” Congress ought to wipe the stain of barbaric lynching from the banners of a free and orderly, representative democracy” (1921) Warren Harding
“Strange Fruit” and Billie Holiday Billie was singing to herself- as if she was being lynched herself video:Billie Holliday Sings “Strange Fruit”-svideo:Billie Holliday Sings “Strange Fruit”-s Lynching of the spirit “Strange Fruit” was an opportunity to put into words what so many people had seen and lived through “resigned bitterness” (Benny Green) Larger impact on white liberals (in North) than the impact among black intelligentsia (Albert Murrows) Black Response Blacks as victims (did not approve) Feared the song would start new tensions Held “Strange Fruit” as sacred
The Murder of Emmett Till (1955) August, 1955, a fourteen year old boy visiting his cousin in Money, Mississippi had whistled at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant in a grocery store. Emmett Till was murdered, lynched, by two white men, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, that evening. Despite their arrests, the two men were eventually acquitted by an all white jury. New developments in 2004 allowed for the trial to be reopened, based on new evidence that suggested more people may have been involved.
The lynching mentality transcend to modern hate crimes?
Bias motivation Total incidents IndividualBusinessGovernment Society/p ublic Other/ unknown/ multiple Total7,6495,99133225352780 Single-Bias Incidents 7,6425,98533225352779 Race4,0423,33816115039321 Religion1,374640119722351 Sexual Orientation 1,1971,0892420653 Ethnicity/ National Origin 9728692410452 Disability57494112 Multiple- Bias Incidents 1 760001 1 In a multiple-bias incident two conditions must be met: 1) more than one offense type must occur in the incident and 2) at least two offense types must be motivated by different biases. “Hate Crime” Incidents Victim Type by Bias Motivation, 2004
The Senate "expresses the deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets of the Senate to the descendants of victims of lynching, the ancestors of whom were deprived of life, human dignity and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States." On Monday, June 12, 2005, the Senate passed a non- binding resolution apologizing for not enacting anti- lynching legislation. “ It’s a resolution, not a law… I'm afraid we still can't say with certainty that the last lynching has occurred.” (Nell Irvin Painter, Professor of American History at Princeton University)