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Lynching America in Robbie G. Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, NY.

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Presentation on theme: "Lynching America in Robbie G. Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, NY."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lynching America in Robbie G. Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, NY.

2 What were the primary motivations behind in the early half of the 20 th century? lynching lynching

3 90% of the victims were Southern 73% of the victims were black 27% of the victims were white According to the Tuskegee Institute, 4,742 lynchings occurred between

4 Easy people imagine that, having hanged a Negro, the mob goes quietly about its business; but that is never the way of the mob. Once released, the spirit of anarchy spreads and spreads, not subsiding until it has accomplished its full measure of evil. (Ray Stannard Baker, What is a Lynching?, McClures Magazine. (February, 1905) ) Six out of ten people in the South thought lynchings were justified in cases of sexual assault (Vicksburg Evening Post (4th May, 1919) ) When the Negro's corpse fell, the pieces of rope were hotly contended for. (Vicksburg Evening Post (4th May, 1919) ) mobocratic spirit Abraham Lincoln When his own suffering was more than he could stand, he could live only by witnessing the suffering of others. (Erskine Caldwell, You Have Seen Their Faces (1937)) …it is impossible for a Negro accused of a crime, or even suspected of a crime, to escape a white man's vengeance or his justice. (Editorial in The Charleston (1918) ) Perspectives…Perspectives…

5 What is Lynching? Nonlethal punishment- tar and feathering Execution by a mob of one individual who committed crimes/broke unwritten social laws Five or more persons taking the law into their own hands Mob assemblage without legal right acting to kill or injure people, depriving them the right to due process or equal protection Expression of the communitys will tacit compliance with lynching= participation

6 Lynching Lynching took the place of the merry-go-round, the theatre, symphony orchestra (H.L. Mencken) For which crime was someone lynched? For illegal 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 black lynching, for no crime at all. Just to remind blacks to stay in their place.

7 Origins of Lynching American frontier mentality Needed to take due process in their own hands Revolutionary era- popular sovereignty is won after long, vicious battle enshrined privilege in American life *localism* *instrumentalism*

8 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 1835 lynching slave revolts needed to be repressed patrollers- armed committees of planters/thugs to restrict slave movement/meetings 1880s- KKK begannight-riding

9 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

10 World War I American concerns over WWI in Europe impeded the social reform characterized of the late 19 th century After the Treaty of Versailles concluded the war, Americans became extremely disillusioned with international relations New conservatism Anti-immigrants Rise of KKK (Atlanta)---> millions of members by 1920 Birth of a Nation (1915)

11 Look first at Stacy, then turn to the little girl in the summer dress, looking at Stacy, and then to the man behind her, perhaps her father, in the spotless white shirt and slacks and the clean white skimmer. They will stand there forever, admiring the proof of their civilization. (Roger Rosenblatt, Confronting the Past (17th February, 2000) ) Lynching of John Carter Spectators at the lynching of Jesse Washington (1916)

12 Marion, Indiana

13 Our Town: Our Town: How Lynching is Reflected through Family History In Our Town, Cynthia Carr describes her own investigations in her familys dark past, one OF which she was not aware until recently. As she discovers the implications of her grandfathers involvement in the Ku Klux Klan, and especially in the Marion lynchings of 1930, she realizes the tacit compliance of her father, and thousands of other observers in Marion, Indiana. After speaking with James Cameron, a survivor of the Marion lynchings, she amounts to the shameful nature of her familys story. In addition to her efforts to solve her grandfathers mystery, Carr explores the observers of the lynching in Beitlers photograph. Some seem to be on a date, some seem angry, some seem enthralled by the prospect of a lynching, and some seem to be passively watching the hanging of two innocent men, Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp. Even thought the Marion spectators might not be throwing rocks or tying the noose, every word, or every second that they watch, they are in some way participating in the utmost injustice.

14 The Lynching of Leo Frank (1913) Response of Atlantas Jews mirrored response of black communities to black lynchings Became Introverted Immersed themselves with other Gentiles Rabbi Marx thought it was better to assimilate, forbid singing of Hatikvah (reformed the Jewish temple) The lynching of Leo Frank was a damnable outrage. There was no excuse, no mitigating circumstances to justify the actions of the Georgia mob. An action like that makes a decent man sick. (Pres. William Howard Taft)

15 The Anti-Lynching Campaign No torture of helpless victims by heathen savages or cruel red Indians ever exceeded the cold-blooded savagery of white devils under lynch law. This was done by white men who controlled all the forces of law and order in their communities and who could have legally punished rapists and murderers, especially black men who had neither political power nor financial strength with which to evade any justly deserved fate…the Southerner ha[s] never gotten over his resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income. (Crusade for Justice, 1928) Ida B. Wells

16 Efforts of the NAACP Founded in 1909 Main Platform: Blacks have been denied of their natural rights Action must be taken against this injustice Lynching is not the most efficient way to instill justice in a community; there are more expedient forms of judgment State governments are unwilling to prevent lynch mobs from striking (inspired by comments from Theodore Bilbo, MI governor in 1919)

17 Anti-Lynching Legislation Dyer Bill (1921) Provisions: Lynching: murder of a U.S. citizen by a mob of 3+ people Sheriff/official who fails to protect prisoner is guilt of felony U.S. government can prosecute lynchers if state government does not County in which lynching occurs must pay $10,000 to victims family Passed in H.O.R./Filibuster in Senate

18 Anti-Lynching Legislation Wagner-Costigan Bill (1934) Provisions: mob: 3+ persons State officers 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

19 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 FDRs decision nor stir resentment in Southern senators because of their control over several committees Anti-Lynching Legislation

20 Presidential Reactions to Lynching loosening of the bonds of civilization black mans 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

21 At 7:00 in the evening, May 4, 1927, they dragged Carter's body from City Hall down Broadway to the intersection of 9th and Broadway...and they set a huge bonfire in the middle of the streetcar tracks at that intersection and burnt Carter's body and one of the arms was ripped off and used to direct traffic." Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the Southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Strange Fruit, (1939), written by Abel Meeropol Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, Then the sudden smell of burning flesh ! Observers of the lynching of Thomas Shipp, Abram Smith, and James Cameron in Marion, Indiana. Billie Holiday, performing live John Carter, a mentally retarded black man lynched in Little Rock, AK. Here is a fruit for the crows crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, rot, for the tree to drop, Here is a strangeand bittercrop.

22 Strange Fruit and Billie Holiday Billie was singing to herself- as if she was being lynched herself 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

23 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.

24 How did the lynching mentality transcend to modern hate crimes?

25 Modern Definition of Lynching & Hate Crimes Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994) Hate Crimes Act (2000) "Hate crimes do more than threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens. They inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society. Crimes motivated by invidious hatred toward particular groups not only harm individual victims but send a powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the group to which the victim belongs. Hate crimes can and do intimidate and disrupt entire communities… In a democratic society, citizens cannot be required to approve of the beliefs and practices of others, but must never commit criminal acts on account of them.

26 Matthew Shepard Matthew Shepard Laramie, WyomingOctober 7, 1998 Tacit compliance is participation. Matthew Shepard, homosexual student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally killed by two Laramie citizens, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinley. Shepard never regained consciousness after the severe lacerations on which surgeons couldnt operate, and the brain stem damage which he suffered. Henderson and McKinley claimed the gay-panic defense. President Clinton was motivated by the innocent lynching of Matthew Shepard to pass hate crime legislation that included bias about sexual orientation. His efforts were refuted in Congress, however.

27 Bias motivation Total incidents IndividualBusinessGovernment Society/ public Other/ unknown / multiple Total7,6495, Single- Bias Incidents 7,6425, Race4,0423, Religion1, Sexual Orientation 1,1971, Ethnicity/ National Origin Disability Multiple- Bias Incidents 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

28 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. Its 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)

29 Works Cited Allen, James. Without Sanctuary Lynching Photography in America. Santa Fe, N.M: Twin Palms, Beitler, Lawrence Marion, Indiana. 29 May Blumenthal, Ralph. "Fresh Outrage in Waco At Grisly Lynching of 1916." New York Times 1 May EBSCO. EDWARD J. HART LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER, Chappaqua, NY. 06 Jan Carr, Cynthia. Our Town. 1st ed. New York: Random House, Chadbourn, James Harmon. Lynching and the Law. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina P, Dawe, P. The Bostonians Paying the Excise Man Wikipedia. 01 June Digital image. [Billie Holiday]. 25 May Digital image. [Birth of A Nation] June Digital image. [Emmett Till]. 4 June Digital image. [Fence] June Digital image. [Ida B. Wells]. 03 June Digital image. [John Carter]. 28 May Digital image. [Lynching of Leo Frank] Library of Congress. 03 June Digital image. [noose]. 02 June Digital image. [Spectators at the lynching of Jesse Washington, one ma raised for a better view] June Digital image. [The lynching of Rubin Stacy. Onlookers, including four young girls] June Digital image. [The lynching of Virgil Jones, Robert Jones, Thomas Jones, and Joseph Riley, warning note. Black onlookers.] June Dray, Philip. At the Hands of Persons Unknown. 1st ed. Toronto: Random House, "Hate Crime Statistics 2004." Federal Bureau of Investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 8 June Holiday, Billie. "Strange Fruit." By Abel Meeropol. Rec Korosec, Thomas. "'Waco Horror' Won't 'Stay Hushed'" Houston Chronicle 30 Apr. 2005, 3 STAR ed., sec. A: 1. EBSCO. EDWARD J. HART LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER, Chappaqua, NY. 01 June "Lynching by Year and by Race ( )." Classroom: the Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive. Tuskegee Institute. 8 June "Lynching in America." Court TV: Crime Library Courtroom Television Network, LLC. 06 June "Lynching." Spartacus. 05 June Margolick, David. Strange Fruit Billie Holiday, Café Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights. Philadelphia: Running P, Oney, Steve. And the Dead Shall Rise the Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank. New York: Pantheon Books, Pearson, Andy. "The Racial Divide in Arkansas." Today's THV KTHV Little Rock. 26 Feb KTHV and KTHV-DT, Little Rock. 06 June "Senate Apologizes for Not Enacting Anti-Lynching Legislation." Democracy Now! 14 June June Steelwater, Eliza. The Hangman's Knot; Lynching, Legal Execution, and America's Struggle with the Death Penalty. 1st ed. Boulder, Colorado: Westview P, Till-Mobley, Mamie, and Chris Benson. Death of Innocence. 1st Ed. ed. New York: Random House, "Victim Type by Bias Motivation." Chart. FBI Hate Crime Statistics Federal Bureau of Investigation. 02 June 2006.

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