African-American Perspectives
The Progress of a People
Segregation and Violence Solving the Race Problem Contributions to the Nation

SESSION 1: Protection of the American Citizen | Mob-violence and Anarchy, North and South

Session Topic
Mob-violence and Anarchy, North and South
Photo: caption follows
George Meadows, "murderer & rapist," lynched on scene of his last crime. L. Horgan, Jr. (dates unknown). Photograph, c. 1889. LC-USZ62-31911
In the South, lynching was one of the terrorist tactics used to control and threaten the African-American. Between 1889 and 1918, a total of 2,522 black Americans were lynched, 50 of them women. These people were hanged, burned alive, or hacked to death. According to the mythology popular at the time, black men were lynched because they had raped white women, yet historians find that in eighty percent of the cases there were no sexual charges alleged, let alone proved. People were lynched for petty offenses such as stealing a cow, arguing with a white man, or attempting to register to vote. Social critic H.L. Mencken described the practice as one which "in sheer high spirits, some convenient African is taken at random and lynched, as the newspapers say, 'on general principles.'" No one was punished in the South for taking part in a lynching until 1918.
Pamphlet Excerpt
from "Lynch Law in Georgia" by Ida B. Wells-Barnett

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Audio Transcription:

During six weeks of the months of March and April just past, twelve colored men were lynched in Georgia, the reign of outlawry culminating in the torture and hanging of the colored preacher, Elijah Strickland, and the burning alive of Samuel Wilkes, alias Hose, Sunday, April 23, 1899.

The real purpose of these savage demonstrations is to teach the Negro that in the South he has no rights that the law will enforce. Samuel Hose was burned to teach the Negroes that no matter what a white man does to them, they must not resist.

SESSIONS: Segregation and Violence | Solving the Race Problem | Contributions to the Nation

The Progress of a People

African-American Perspectives