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A landmark in the conversation about race and religion in America. "They put him to death by hanging him on a tree." Acts 10:39 The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and souls of black folk. Both the cross and the lynching tree represent the worst in human beings and at the same time a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning. While the lynching tree symbolized white power and "black death," the cross symbolizes divine power and "black life" God overcoming the power of sin and death. For African Americans, the image of Jesus, hung on a tree to die, powerfully grounded their faith that God was with them, even in the suffering of the lynching era. In a work that spans social history, theology, and cultural studies, Cone explores the message of the spirituals and the power of the blues; the passion and of Emmet Till and the engaged vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.; he invokes the spirits of Billie Holliday and Langston Hughes, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ida B. Well, and the witness of black artists, writers, preachers, and fighters for justice. And he remembers the victims, especially the 5,000 who perished during the lynching period. Through their witness he contemplates the greatest challenge of any Christian theology to explain how life can be made meaningful in the face of death and injustice.
The New York Times bestselling author of The Kennedy Women chronicles the powerful and spellbinding true story of a brutal race-based killing in 1981 and subsequent trials that undid one of the most pernicious organizations in American history—the Ku Klux Klan. On a Friday night in March 1981 Henry Hays and James Knowles scoured the streets of Mobile in their car, hunting for a black man. The young men were members of Klavern 900 of the United Klans of America. They were seeking to retaliate after a largely black jury could not reach a verdict in a trial involving a black man accused of the murder of a white man. The two Klansmen found nineteen-year-old Michael Donald walking home alone. Hays and Knowles abducted him, beat him, cut his throat, and left his body hanging from a tree branch in a racially mixed residential neighborhood. Arrested, charged, and convicted, Hays was sentenced to death—the first time in more than half a century that the state of Alabama sentenced a white man to death for killing a black man. On behalf of Michael’s grieving mother, Morris Dees, the legendary civil rights lawyer and cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a civil suit against the members of the local Klan unit involved and the UKA, the largest Klan organization. Charging them with conspiracy, Dees put the Klan on trial, resulting in a verdict that would level a deadly blow to its organization. Based on numerous interviews and extensive archival research, The Lynching brings to life two dramatic trials, during which the Alabama Klan’s motives and philosophy were exposed for the evil they represent. In addition to telling a gripping and consequential story, Laurence Leamer chronicles the KKK and its activities in the second half the twentieth century, and illuminates its lingering effect on race relations in America today. The Lynching includes sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs.
Uses excerpts from newspapers and editorials and accounts of the murder and trial to examine the lynching of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till in 1955, in a volume which also contains selections from poems, songs, interviews, essays, and memoirs relating to the incident.
Reconstructs the case of Mack Charles Parker, a young African-American man who was lynched by a white mob in 1959 after being charged with the rape of a white woman in Poplarville, Mississippi.
More than just a civil war, the Mexican Revolution in 1910 triggered hostilities along the border between Mexico and the United States. In particular, the decade following the revolution saw a dramatic rise in the lynching of ethnic Mexicans in Texas. This book argues that ethnic and racial tension brought on by the fighting in the borderland made Anglo-Texans feel justified in their violent actions against Mexicans. They were able to use the legal system to their advantage, and their actions often went unpunished. Villanueva’s work further differentiates the borderland lynching of ethnic Mexicans from the Southern lynching of African Americans by asserting that the former was about citizenship and sovereignty, as many victims’ families had resources to investigate the crimes and thereby place the incidents on an international stage.
On a warm August night in 1911, Zachariah Walker was lynched--burned alive--by an angry mob on the outskirts of Coatesville, a prosperous Pennsylvania steel town. At the time of his very public murder, Walker, an African American millworker, was under arrest for the shooting and killing of a respected local police officer. Investigated by the NAACP, the horrific incident garnered national and international attention. Despite this scrutiny, a conspiracy of silence shrouded the events, and the accused men and boys were found not guilty at trial. On the 100th anniversary of the lynching and the 20th anniversary of the book's original release as No Crooked Death, authors Dennis B. Downey and Raymond M. Hyser bring new insight to events that rocked a community.
On January 20, 1942, black oil mill worker Cleo Wright assaulted a white woman in her home and nearly killed the first police officer who tried to arrest him. An angry mob then hauled Wright out of jail and dragged him through the streets of Sikeston, Missouri, before burning him alive. Wright's death was, unfortunately, not unique in American history, but what his death meant in the larger context of life in the United States in the twentieth-century is an important and compelling story. After the lynching, the U.S. Justice Department was forced to become involved in civil rights concerns for the first time, provoking a national reaction to violence on the home front at a time when the country was battling for democracy in Europe. Dominic Capeci unravels the tragic story of Wright's life on several stages, showing how these acts of violence were indicative not only of racial tension but the clash of the traditional and the modern brought about by the war. Capeci draws from a wide range of archival sources and personal interviews with the participants and spectators to draw vivid portraits of Wright, his victims, law-enforcement officials, and members of the lynch mob. He places Wright in the larger context of southern racial violence and shows the significance of his death in local, state, and national history during the most important crisis of the twentieth-century.
The Lynching of Ladies is the first in a trilogy of memoirs about two best friends. After experiencing one traumatic experience after another, one dresses herself in tenacity and perseverance and the other in self-loathing and defeat. These ladies experience social, emotional, and physical lynchings throughout their young lives. When Casey tells Arianna, "Men go off to war, women go off to men there are casualties in both," a turning point begins. Both carry the broken pieces of their adolescence into adulthood, with disastrous results . . . until one day a healthy dose of self-esteem saves one of them in a life-altering way. These events do not happen without much wit and laughter. It is written for women who want to stop being the victim and become the victor. This is a self-help primer for women all over the world, regardless of social station or economic background. It is written to help stop "the lynching of ladies!" None of this happens without much wit and laughter.
After Native American Louie Sam is suspected of killing someone, he is chased into Canada and lynched, but teenager George Gillies, a newcomer to Washington Territory, doesn't think Louie was guilty and sets out to investigate.
He is a blast from the Yarford city past and now he is beat reporter for the city paper. I thought this may be refreshing new beginning by introducing a character from the past, well at least it was not the two-faced Chester Mingolt - everyone can now take a collective sigh of relief.
I am a Man that's been thrown into Prison by all means. I had no Rights at my trial, Constitutional, or otherwise. I wrote the Book to show the Public what steps the Courts in South Carolina will take to imprison this Citizen. The reader can make his or her own mind about why I gave the Book its Title.
WINNER OF THE SOUTHERN BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR NONFICTION • “A landmark work of unflinching scholarship.”—The New York Times This extraordinary account of lynching in America, by acclaimed civil rights historian Philip Dray, shines a clear, bright light on American history’s darkest stain—illuminating its causes, perpetrators, apologists, and victims. Philip Dray also tells the story of the men and women who led the long and difficult fight to expose and eradicate lynching, including Ida B. Wells, James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and W.E.B. Du Bois. If lynching is emblematic of what is worst about America, their fight may stand for what is best: the commitment to justice and fairness and the conviction that one individual’s sense of right can suffice to defy the gravest of wrongs. This landmark book follows the trajectory of both forces over American history—and makes lynching’s legacy belong to us all. Praise for At the Hands of Persons Unknown “In this history of lynching in the post-Reconstruction South—the most comprehensive of its kind—the author has written what amounts to a Black Book of American race relations.”—The New Yorker “A powerfully written, admirably perceptive synthesis of the vast literature on lynching. It is the most comprehensive social history of this shameful subject in almost seventy years and should be recognized as a major addition to the bibliography of American race relations.”—David Levering Lewis “An important and courageous book, well written, meticulously researched, and carefully argued.”—The Boston Globe “You don’t really know what lynching was until you read Dray’s ghastly accounts of public butchery and official complicity.”—Time
Witnessing Lynching: American Writers Respond is the first anthology to gather poetry, essays, drama, and fiction from the height of the lynching era (1889-1935). During this time, the torture of a black person drew thousands of local onlookers and was replayed throughout the nation in lurid newspaper reports. The selections gathered here represent the courageous efforts of American writers to witness the trauma of lynching and to expose the truth about this uniquely American atrocity. Included are well-known authors and activists such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Ida B. Wells, and Theodore Dreiser, as well as many others. These writers respond to lynching in many different ways, using literature to protest and educate, to create a space of mourning in which to commemorate and rehumanize the dead, and as a cathartic release for personal and collective trauma. Their words provide today's reader with a chance to witness lynching and better understand the current state of race relations in America. An introduction by Anne P. Rice offers a broad historical and thematic framework to ground the selections.
In 1916, in front of a crowd of ten to fifteen thousand cheering spectators watched as seventeen-year-old Jesse Washington, a retarded black boy, was publicly tortured, lynched, and burned on the town square of Waco, Texas. He had been accused and convicted in a kangaroo court for the rape and murder of a white woman. The city's mayor and police chief watched Washington's torture and murder and did nothing. Nearby, a professional photographer took pictures to sell as mementos of that day. The stark story and gory pictures were soon printed in The Crisis, the monthly magazine of the fledgling NAACP, as part of that organization's campaign for antilynching legislation. Even in the vast bloodbath of lynchings that washed across the South and Midwest during the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Waco lynching stood out. The NAACP assigned a young white woman, Elisabeth Freeman, to travel to Waco to investigate, and report back. The evidence she gathered and gave to W. E. B. Du Bois provided grist for the efforts of the NAACP to raise national consciousness of the atrocities being committed and to raise funds to lobby antilynching legislation as well. In the summer of 1916, three disparate forces - a vibrant, growing city bursting with optimism on the blackland prairie of Central Texas, a young woman already tempered in the frontline battles for woman's suffrage, and a very small organization of grimly determined "progressives" in New York City - collided with each other, with consequences no one could have foreseen. They were brought together irrevocably by the prolonged torture and public murder of Jesse Washington - the atrocity that became known as the Waco Horror. Drawing on extensive research in the national files of the NAACP, local newspapers and archives, and interviews with the descendants of participants in the events of that day, Patricia Bernstein has reconstructed the details of not only the crime but also its aftermath. She has charted the ways the story affected the development of the NAACP and especially the eventual success of its antilynching campaign. She searches for answers to the questions of how participating in such violence affected the lives of the mob leaders, the city officials who stood by passively, and the community that found itself capable of such abject behavior.
ABSTRACT: When twenty-two year old African American Lloyd Clay was strung up from an old elm tree, burned alive, and his body riddled with bullets by a white lynch mob of approximately one-thousand people on the corner of a major intersection in Vicksburg, Mississippi, nothing happened. Vicksburg in the year 1919 was typical of many other cities throughout the United States deep South. When Clay was unjustly crucified, no whites from the mob were put on trial; and there was no backlash or retaliation from the black Vicksburg citizenry. As a matter of fact, Clay's mother was even told by whites not to go to the morgue to identify her dead son's body; it would be best, they suggested, if she stayed out of it. This case study will specifically situate Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the lynching of Lloyd Clay within the context of the last decade of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century, called by many historians, the Progressive Era. It will examine why black lynchings increased after slavery was constitutionally abolished and the Reconstruction Era in the American South came to an end. It will also juxtapose Mississippi lynchings, blamed for the maintenance of economical, political, and social white privilege, against the Progressive Era to show how those lynchings encumbered black economic, political, and social progress.
On the evening of June 15, 1920, in Duluth, Minnesota, three young black men, accused of the rape of a white woman, were pulled from their jail cells and lynched by a mob numbering in the thousands. Yet for years the incident was nearly forgotten. This updated, second edition of The Lynchings in Duluth includes a new preface by the author, additional research and notes, and suggestions for further reading. “This account of racial violence in the early twentieth century is a genuinely startling and illuminating contribution to our understanding of racial justice in the United States in the twenty-first. Many Americans have found it convenient to think that episodes like this come only from the Jim Crow–era Deep South. The Lynchings in Duluth is a powerful reminder of the broader American pattern.” James Fallows, The Atlantic “A chilling reconstruction of a 1920 racial tragedy. . . . Combining hour-by-hour, day-by-day narrative with expert scholarship based on interviews, suppressed documents and news reports, Fedo skillfully portrays Northern prejudice and violence.” Los Angeles Times “This tense book punches out a story of devastating fury. . . . As pointed as a Klansman’s cap, this book conveys the horror of mob action—and the disturbing truth that it knows no region.” Milwaukee Journal
Based on analysis of nearly 600 cases, this volume offers a full appraisal of the complex character of lynching. An original aspect of this work demonstrates the role blacks played in combatting lynching, either by flight, protest, or organized opposition which culminated in the expansion of the NAACP.
Ginzburg compiles vivid newspaper accounts from 1886 to 1960 to provide insight and understanding of the history of racial violence.
Lynch mobs in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America exacted horrifying public torture and mutilation on their victims. In Lynching and Spectacle, Amy Wood explains what it meant for white Americans to perform and witness these sadistic spectacles and how lynching played a role in establishing and affirming white supremacy. Lynching, Wood argues, overlapped with a variety of cultural practices and performances, both traditional and modern, including public executions, religious rituals, photography, and cinema, all which encouraged the horrific violence and gave it social acceptability. However, she also shows how the national dissemination of lynching images ultimately fueled the momentum of the antilynching movement and the decline of the practice. Using a wide range of sources, including photos, newspaper reports, pro- and antilynching pamphlets, early films, and local city and church records, Wood reconfigures our understanding of lynching's relationship to modern life. Wood expounds on the critical role lynching spectacles played in establishing and affirming white supremacy at the turn of the century, particularly in towns and cities experiencing great social instability and change. She also shows how the national dissemination of lynching images fueled the momentum of the antilynching movement and ultimately led to the decline of lynching. By examining lynching spectacles alongside both traditional and modern practices and within both local and national contexts, Wood reconfigures our understanding of lynching's relationship to modern life.