According to an investigation by anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells, Henry pleaded his innocence until the end. Less than thirty years later, Paris hosted a second gruesome lynching. In , brothers Irving and Herman Arthur worked on a white-owned farm where they suffered ongoing abuse. When the Arthurs decided to leave in search of better working conditions, the farm owners tried to stop them with gunfire and then alleged that the Arthurs had wounded them.
Soon after Irving and Herman were arrested and jailed, local whites began posting signs throughout town advertising their impending lynching. On July 6, , a mob of gathered to watch as both men were tied to a flagpole at the fairgrounds, tortured, and burned to death. A local sheriff involved in the case later declared the brothers had been guilty of no crime.
Today, Paris is a small but vibrant and diverse city of 25, people, with no historical markers to document either lynching. A large Confederate memorial adorns the courthouse lawn—a site of racial unrest in the twenty-first century. In , a twenty-four-year-old black man named Brandon McClelland was found dead by a roadside in Paris.
An investigation determined he had been dragged behind or under a vehicle as far as seventy feet. Two white men who spent several hours with Mr. McClelland on the night he died were arrested after blood reportedly was found on the undercarriage of their truck. When the local prosecutor dropped all charges against the men in , citing a lack of evidence, racial tensions flared. Paris, Texas, is eaten up with racism. Thousands watch as lynchers prepare to torture Henry Smith on a ten-foot-high platform at the county fairgrounds.
Most lynchings involved the killing of one or more specific individuals, but some lynch mobs targeted entire black communities by forcing black people to witness lynchings and demanding that they leave the area or face a similar fate. When the men found Mr. Devert crossing a river with the girl in his arms, they shot him in the head and the girl drowned.
Insisting that the entire black community needed to witness Mr. The white men then rounded up all sixty African American residents and forced the men, women, and children to watch the corpse burn. These African Americans and eighty black people who worked at a local quarry were then told to leave the county within twenty-four hours. He was seized by a mob, forced to jump from an automobile with a noose around his neck, and shot times.
The mob then threw Mr. At p. They threw Mr. Rather, these lynchings were designed for broad impact—to send a message of domination, to instill fear, and sometimes to drive African Americans from the community altogether. From to , lynch mobs targeted African Americans who protested being treated as second-class citizens. African Americans throughout the South, individually and in organized groups, were demanding the economic and civil rights to which they were entitled. In response, whites turned to lynching.
The overseer pulled a gun, which Mr.
Flemming wrestled away from him and fired in self-defense. A mob pursued and quickly caught him. Alerted of Mr. In Hernando, Mississippi, in , Reverend T. When white landowners learned that Reverend Allen was using his pulpit to preach to the black community about unionization, they formed a mob, seized him, shot him many times, and threw him into the Coldwater River. The gang tied Mr. They took him to the jail in Selma, Alabama, where other inmates heard him being beaten and screaming.
After a Kidnapping, a Lifetime of Haunted Regret
Whites used terrorism to relegate African Americans to a state of second-class citizenship and economic disadvantage that would last for generations after emancipation and create far-reaching consequences. The data reveals telling trends across time and region, including that lynchings peaked between and See Figure 1. Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana had the highest absolute number of African American lynching victims during this period. See Table 1. Mississippi, Florida, and Arkansas had the highest per capita rates of lynching by total population, while Arkansas, Florida, and Mississippi had the highest per capita rates of lynching by African American population.
See Tables 2 and 3. The twenty-five counties with the highest rates of lynchings of African Americans during this era are located in eight of the twelve states studied: Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas, and Mississippi. The terror of lynching was not confined to a few outlier states.
Racial terror cast a shadow of fear across the region.
Sean P. Harvey
See Tables 4 and 5. Lynching outside of the Southern states differed from lynching within the South, largely in relation to the cultural and historical distinctions between the regions. In addition to the documented lynchings committed in the South between and , EJI has documented more than racial terror lynchings of black people that took place in other parts of the United States during the same period.
Though the numbers were lower, mirroring the lower concentration of black residents in these states, racial terror lynchings committed outside the South featured many of the same characteristics. When black people moved and built communities outside the South in growing numbers during the lynching era, they were often targeted and violently terrorized in response to racialized economic competition, unproven allegations of crime, and violations of the racial order.
As early as , anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett gave a speech continuing her denouncement of Southern lynching and also noting the growing number of atrocities being committed in other regions.
REVELS, Hiram Rhodes
EJI found the highest numbers of documented racial terror lynchings outside the South during the lynching era in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois, and those totals were largely fueled by acts of mass violence against entire black communities that left many people dead, property destroyed, and survivors traumatized. In early July , after several years of postwar migration had increased the black population of East St. Louis, Illinois, and created economic competition for white residents, white mobs in the city ambushed African American workers as they left factories during a shift change.
Just a few years later, in , a black elevator operator named Dick Rowland was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after a misunderstanding led to rumors that he had attacked a white woman. Though charges against Mr. Rowland were soon dropped and he was released, a white mob quickly gathered to lynch him.
Equal Justice Initiative's report
When the black community banded together to help the young man leave town, the mob indiscriminately attacked the prosperous local black residential and business district known as Greenwood. Over the next two days, the mob killed at least thirty-six black people, displaced many more, and destroyed the once vibrant community.
No member of the mob was ever convicted. Racial terror lynchings outside the South were often brutal and brazen public spectacles. Though both men had alibis confirmed by their employer, a mob refused to wait for a trial. Instead, the mob seized both men from jail, hanged them from Gottfried Tower near the town square, and burned and shot their corpses while a crowd of white men, women, and children watched. Members of the mob reportedly raped Ms. Nelson before hanging her and her son from a bridge over the Canadian River. On August 7, , a large white mob used tear gas, crowbars, and hammers to break into the Grant County Jail in Marion, Indiana, to seize and lynch three young black men who had been accused of murder and assault.
Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, both 19 years old, were severely beaten and hanged, while the third young man, year-old James Cameron, was badly beaten but not killed.
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Photographs of the brutal lynching were shared widely, featuring clear images of the crowd posing beneath the hanging corpses, but no one was ever prosecuted or convicted. Even in states with sparse black populations and very few documented racial terror lynchings, violent attacks terrorized small and vulnerable black communities.
After seizing the men from jail, where they were being held on charges of assault, the mob ignored the pleas of a local white clergyman to spare the young men, and hanged them from a light pole. In Omaha, Nebraska, in October , thousands of white people gathered to seize George Smith, a black man, from the local jail after he was accused of assault. Though he had an alibi and most reports of the alleged crime were false, the mob beat Mr. Smith, dragged him through the streets with a rope around his neck, and then hanged him from telephone wires in front of a local opera house. Despite the severe physical injuries inflicted, the coroner concluded that Mr.
More than twenty-five years later, another Omaha lynching led to death and destruction for black residents.
After a black man named Will Brown was accused of attempting to assault a white woman, a mob set the local courthouse on fire and pulled him from the jail. The mob beat Mr.
Brown, hanged him from a telegraph post, riddled his body with bullets, and then dragged his burning corpse through the streets until it was mutilated beyond recognition. Fragments of the rope used to hang Mr. Brown were sold for ten cents as souvenirs to white spectators.
The lynching era was fueled by the movement to restore white supremacy and domination, but Northern and federal officials who failed to act as black people were terrorized and murdered enabled this campaign of racial terrorism. For more than six decades, as Southern whites used lynching to enforce a post-slavery system of racial dominance, white officials outside the South watched and did little. Congress made efforts to pass federal anti-lynching bills throughout the lynching era, but Southern white representatives predictably and consistently protested so-called federal interference in local affairs.
Very few white people were convicted of murder for lynching a black person in America during this period, and of all lynchings committed after , only 1 percent resulted in a lyncher being convicted of a criminal offense. In November , journalist, activist, and anti-lynching crusader Ida B. I am not a Republican, because.
Because they care no more for the Negro than the Democrats do, and because even now, and since their defeat last November, the Republican head and the New York Republican Convention are giving vent to utterances and passing resolutions recommending State rights, and the taking from the Negro—for the reason his vote is not counted, but represented in the Electoral College, that they claim his gratitude for giving—the ballot. The dominant political narrative blamed lynching on its victims, insisting that brutal mob violence was the only appropriate response to the growing scourge of black men raping white women.
Such theories were used to legitimate and reinforce racial hierarchy. By the start of the twentieth century, national leaders had learned to profitably employ popular white supremacist views and pro-lynching rhetoric.