At the Hands of Persons Unknown

Author: Philip Dray
Publisher: Modern Library
ISBN: 0307430669
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It is easy to shrink from our country’s brutal history of lynching. Lynching is called the last great skeleton in our nation’s closet: It terrorized all of black America, claimed thousands upon thousands of victims in the decades between the 1880s and the Second World War, and leaves invisible but deep scars to this day. The cost of pushing lynching into the shadows, however—misremembering it as isolated acts perpetrated by bigots on society’s fringes—is insupportably high: Until we understand how pervasive and socially accepted the practice was—and, more important, why this was so—it will haunt all efforts at racial reconciliation. “I could not suppress the thought,” James Baldwin once recalled of seeing the red clay hills of Georgia on his first trip to the South, “that this earth had acquired its color from the blood that had dripped down from these trees.” Throughout America, not just in the South, blacks accused of a crime—or merely of violating social or racial customs—were hunted by mobs, abducted from jails, and given summary “justice” in blatant defiance of all guarantees of due process under law. Men and women were shot, hanged, tortured, and burned, often in sadistic, picnic-like “spectacle lynchings” involving thousands of witnesses. “At the hands of persons unknown” was the official verdict rendered on most of these atrocities. The celebrated historian Philip Dray shines a clear, bright light on this dark history—its causes, perpetrators, apologists, and victims. He 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 love of 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 the history of lynching belong to us all. From the Hardcover edition.

100 Years of Lynchings

Author: Ralph Ginzburg
Publisher: Black Classic Press
ISBN: 9780933121188
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Ginzburg compiles vivid newspaper accounts from 1886 to 1960 to provide insight and understanding of the history of racial violence.

Lynching and Spectacle

Author: Amy Louise Wood
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 9780807878118
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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.

Lynchings

Author: Walter Howard
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 0595376509
Format: PDF
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Lynchings: Extralegal Violence in Florida during the 1930sThis study examines the 13 lynchings that occurred in the southern state of Florida during the decade of the 1930s. It provides a lively and detailed narrative account of each lynching and concludes that there is no one single theory or explanation of these extralegal executions. The author does, however, reveal several patterns common to these separate acts of vigilantism. For example, most Florida lynchings were not rural, small-town ceremonial hangings of black males accused of sexual offenses. Rather, the majority of lynch victims were forcibly seized from police and shot by small bands of carefully organized vigilantes rather than frenzied mobs. Moreover, one third of these lynchings occurred in urban areas. The study finishes with a brief overview of the three Florida lynchings of the 1940s and the sudden end of this southern lynch law in modern America.

Lynching in the New South

Author: William Fitzhugh Brundage
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
ISBN: 9780252063459
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In 1905, the sociologist James Cutler observed, "It has been said that our country's national crime is lynching". If lynching was a national crime, it was a southern obsession. Based on an analysis of nearly six hundred lynchings, this volume offers a new, full appraisal of the complex character of lynching. In Virginia, the southern state with the fewest lynchings, W. Fitzhugh Brundage found that conditions did not breed endemic mob violence. The character of white domination in Georgia, however, was symbolized by nearly five hundred lynchings and became the measure of race relations in the Deep South. By focusing on these two states, Brundage addresses three central questions ignored by previous studies: How can the variation in lynching over space and time be explained? To what extent was lynching a social ritual that affirmed traditional values? What were the causes of the decline of lynching? An original aspect of the work is that it demonstrates the role blacks played in combatting lynching, whether by flight, overt protest, or other strategies. The most lasting of these were efforts to organize opposition to lynching, efforts that culminated in the expansion of the NAACP throughout the South. The book's multidisciplinary approach and the significant issues it addresses will interest historians of African-American history, the South, and American violence. At the same time, it will remind a more general audience of a tradition of violence that poisoned American life, and especially southern life.

Under Sentence of Death

Author: W. Fitzhugh Brundage
Publisher: UNC Press Books
ISBN: 0807866555
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From the assembled work of fifteen leading scholars emerges a complex and provocative portrait of lynching in the American South. With subjects ranging in time from the late antebellum period to the early twentieth century, and in place from the border states to the Deep South, this collection of essays provides a rich comparative context in which to study the troubling history of lynching. Covering a broad spectrum of methodologies, these essays further expand the study of lynching by exploring such topics as same-race lynchings, black resistance to white violence, and the political motivations for lynching. In addressing both the history and the legacy of lynching, the book raises important questions about Southern history, race relations, and the nature of American violence. Though focused on events in the South, these essays speak to patterns of violence, injustice, and racism that have plagued the entire nation. The contributors are Bruce E. Baker, E. M. Beck, W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Joan E. Cashin, Paula Clark, Thomas G. Dyer, Terence Finnegan, Larry J. Griffin, Nancy MacLean, William S. McFeely, Joanne C. Sandberg, Patricia A. Schechter, Roberta Senechal de la Roche, Stewart E. Tolnay, and George C. Wright.

Lynching Beyond Dixie

Author: Michael J. Pfeifer
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
ISBN: 0252094654
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In recent decades, scholars have explored much of the history of mob violence in the American South, especially in the years after Reconstruction. However, the lynching violence that occurred in American regions outside the South, where hundreds of persons, including Hispanics, whites, African Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans died at the hands of lynch mobs, has received less attention. This collection of essays by prominent and rising scholars fills this gap by illuminating the factors that distinguished lynching in the West, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic. The volume adds to a more comprehensive history of American lynching and will be of interest to all readers interested in the history of violence across the varied regions of the United States. Contributors are Jack S. Blocker Jr., Brent M. S. Campney, William D. Carrigan, Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, Dennis B. Downey, Larry R. Gerlach, Kimberley Mangun, Helen McLure, Michael J. Pfeifer, Christopher Waldrep, Clive Webb, and Dena Lynn Winslow.

Lethal Punishment

Author: Margaret Vandiver
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
ISBN: 0813541069
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Why did some offenses in the South end in mob lynchings while similar crimes led to legal executions? Why did still other cases have nonlethal outcomes? In this well-researched and timely book, Margaret Vandiver explores the complex relationship between these two forms of lethal punishment, challenging the assumption that executions consistently grew out of-and replaced-lynchings. Vandiver begins by examining the incidence of these practices in three culturally and geographically distinct southern regions. In rural northwest Tennessee, lynchings outnumbered legal executions by eleven to one and many African Americans were lynched for racial caste offenses rather than for actual crimes. In contrast, in Shelby County, which included the growing city of Memphis, more men were legally executed than lynched. Marion County, Florida, demonstrated a firmly entrenched tradition of lynching for sexual assault that ended in the early 1930s with three legal death sentences in quick succession. With a critical eye to issues of location, circumstance, history, and race, Vandiver considers the ways that legal and extralegal processes imitated, influenced, and differed from each other. A series of case studies demonstrates a parallel between mock trials that were held by lynch mobs and legal trials that were rushed through the courts and followed by quick executions. Tying her research to contemporary debates over the death penalty, Vandiver argues that modern death sentences, like lynchings of the past, continue to be influenced by factors of race and place, and sentencing is comparably erratic.

Lynching Photographs

Author: Dora Apel
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520253329
Format: PDF, ePub
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Presents an analysis of lynching photographs, covering their history, meanings, uses, and displays.