posts 1 - 15 of 25
Boston, US
Posts: 205


Equal Justice Initiative report on lynching (see details below)

Video viewing:

Uprooted, a short film created by the Equal Justice Initiative, [6:44]

You’ve seen some horrific images today. It’s difficult to imagine a society where such images were commonplace and were used as postcard images to be sent to friends.

If you are interested in looking at the archive of lynching photographs, assembled as part of the exhibition (and accompanying book) Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America that toured American museums in 2000, you may spend some time visiting this site: warning: these photographs, like the ones we saw in class, are highly disturbing. And at the end of the day, what I hope you will focus on is not the tortured bodies of the victims but on the facial and body language that suggest the attitudes and behaviors of the bystanders/perpetrators.

You also saw the faces of the onlookers, the writings of the witnesses sending “mementos” to their friends and families. Try to imagine what was inside the heads of these people. Note: there were men, women, and children present at many of these lynchings.

There were folks who objected to lynchings and who tried to do something about it. Click here for an example of Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s crusading journalism and her steadfast advocacy that something had to be done to stop these lynchings. That same document contains Eleanor Roosevelt’s response and her description of FDR’s suggestion as to what to do about it. You heard Billie Holiday’s vocalizing the lyrics of Abel Meeropol’s song, Strange Fruit.

There were efforts to outlaw lynchings. Believe it or not, in the US Congress, Senators Kamala Harris (then D-California), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) introduced the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act in June 2018. (Yes, you read that date correctly.) That legislation passed the Senate in December 2018 but the bill died because it was not passed by the House before its session ended in January 2019. To revive the bill in the next Congress, Representative Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) introduced the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (HR 35) on January 3, 2019. The House of Representatives passed the bill on February 26, 2020. (Yes, you read that date correctly too.)

However, the law has not passed the Senate and therefore has not been enacted, thanks to Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who blocked the bill contending that someone could receive a 10-year sentence for … “minor bruising.” So Congress failed to pass an anti-lynching act.

The person who has done more than anyone else in this nation to shine a spotlight on the need to confront and reckon with this horrific history is attorney Bryan Stevenson, whose book you might have read this summer (Just Mercy) or who was the focus of a recent movie based on the book (same title, Just Mercy). His Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) built a memorial—called the National Memorial to Peace and Justice—in Montgomery, Alabama that has preserved the stories and memorialized the victims of lynchings nationwide. His organization issued a report on lynching that I’d like you to read for this assignment. It’s long, so I’m asking you to take on portions of it, rather than the entire text.

The report is linked here.

  1. Everyone should read the introduction and its key findings.
  2. Then each of you should do the following:

Read 1 of the 3 sections from this list (each section is marked by a red header):

  • Option 1: Read section II “Back to Brutality: Restoring Racial Hierarchy through Terror and Violence”
  • Option 2: Read section III: Lynching in America: From ‘Popular Justice’ to Racial Terror”
  • Option 3: Read section IV: Enabling an Era of Lynching: Retreat, Resistance, and Refuge

AND Read 1 of the 2 from this list (again each section is marked by a red header):

  • Option 1: Read section V: Confronting Lynching
  • Option 2: Read section VI: Trauma and Legacy of Lynching

And after you’ve done that, you will have a deeper understanding of this terrible history. And now it’s your turn. You are to post on the following:

  1. What was the message behind these lynchings? What do they tell you about white supremacy, the creation of a climate of fear, the issue of whether everyone in this country could count on and/or be protected by the judicial system and law enforcement?

  1. What, constructively, could have been done to address and to stop the act of lynching in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries? Remember that lynching did not end until the 1960s. One could argue that it has continued well into the 1990s in the cases of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas (who was attached by a chain to the back of a pickup truck and dragged for miles until his body disintegrated and he died—see, and Matthew Shepard (hog-tied to a fence in sub-zero temperatures) in Laramie, Wyoming (you may remember our school’s production of The Laramie Project and for more info, .

  1. Imagine if you were alive and living in communities where lynchings took place. What would you have done, assuming your goal was to end lynching? What would you have done about it back at the time? What would you do about it now?

boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Racial Terrorism

The history of lynching in America is a history of terrorism for racial-political goals. Policy was put in place to make Afican Americans human in the eye of the law, which went against the beliefs of white supremacists. Previously to the freeing of slaves in America, black people were oppressed tortured and dehumanized under law, and lynching is the response to the banning of this physical threat. Instead of attacking their property through a sense of superiority, they took that sense and went above the law, kidnapping and killing African American citizens. Terrorism is an act of violence above the law used to send a message, making lynching in America an act of terrorism, attempting to send a message of hate and disgust towards a people living within American borders, as if to say you don't belong anywhere, you are subhuman and you are not safe.

Much lynching was done illegally, but was not reported or followed up on by law enforcement. There are many instances where police officers are participating in or leading lynchings. A corrupt law enfrocement system did nothing to address the act of lynching because it was involved in it. A change in the police system early on and punishment to those who would go out and lynch people was and is needed as effects of the racially warped police system can still be felt today.

If I were living in a community where lynchings took place I would be powerless to stop it. The best I could do is secretly protect and hide targets to lynching but even that would be putting my life in immediate danger. If there was anyone like-minded I would discuss it with them and attempt to gain support against the act but the chances of others being against lynching in some of these southern towns is slim. If I were living in a community that participated in lynchings now, I would spread the news through social media to people in other areas and attempt to get it into the eyes of the larger public. At this point in time I believe there has been enough police reform to get some legal assistance in my area.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

The Witch Hunts Continued

Lynching is an example of the practice of using violence to suppress groups of people. This has happened countless times across human history, but a more known comparison could be the witch hunts. Lynching and witch hunts are effectively the same practice in what they try to achieve and they go about doing it. The goal of these waves of violence and terror is inherently reactionary, and is often in response to gains in freedom of minority populations. Minority groups gain rights and freedoms, and so those with power use intense amounts of violence and brutality to put those populations back in their place. It is simple and effective. You brutalize members of a population until they learn how to stay in their lanes, and then you continue to brutalize them until the mob's frenzy dies down. After the Civil War, black people were gaining too much power. They weren't doing what they were supposed to do, and needed to be reminded that they were nothing but property. So they were brutalized. And even after Reconstruction ended, the violence continued. This is because a status quo built on violence must be reinforced with violence.
Because these lynchings were carried out by white mobs with the support of law enforcement, it was also clear to black people that they were helpless. Nobody cared about them, nobody wanted to help them. They had nobody to negotiate with, they could get back in line or they could die. Sometimes both, and they didn't get a choice. In the absence of de juro slavery, white people opted for de facto.

The question then follows, what could be done about this? The answer is actually pretty simple, but is still unable to be followed today because of white supremacy.
The justice system must acknowledge that black lives matter, and punish white people for murder. When white people are not charged for murdering black people, black people continue to die. The answer in reconstruction was to keep the northern military in the south. The answer was to execute or imprison Confederate generals and leaders for being treasonous scum. But in history, the lives of aristocratic slave owners who had revolted against their country and caused the deaths of over 600,000 soldiers were more important to the North than helping black people. That is the effect of white supremacy.
If the North had stood up to the South and had gone after the terrorists that slaughtered countless for the sole reason of maintaining white supremacy, we would have a very different present. Rutherford Hayes was a spineless coward who allowed for the deaths of innocents at the hands of monsters.

As for the question of what I would do if I was in a community where lynchings took place, the answer is I would be dead. I am gay and non binary, I would be slaughtered. Also I have mental illness and would probably be locked away by the time I was 15. That is assuming I hadn't succumbed to my mental illness, which is a 100% chance with all of those factors.
Assuming literally everything else about me is different except for the fact that I am white and AMAB, I would probably still be killed by the mob if I tried to directly oppose lynching. Those who opposed it died, that's the whole point of the practice. It creates an atmosphere of fear for everyone. It reinforces fear of the unknown in order to allow for the violence, and reinforces fear of those in power in the outlier. I would leave the community, I would run as far as I could. I am one person, and if I tried to oppose it I would've been shot dead at best.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Racial Violence

Lynching was an act of racial violence that was used by White people to target minorities, and caused millions of Black people to migrate out of the south. White supremacist took the “law” into their own hands, and exercised whatever their idea of justice was. They would use lynching to instill fear into Black people because they wanted to feel superior. You can see this in photos of past lynchings. The facial expressions and body language of these mobs of White supremacists is disgusting. From the photos it's evident that they found entertainment and a power trip in these hate crimes and acts of racial violence. In some cases, the Black people who were lynched and killed by these White supremacists were innocent and falsely accused of a crime. A lot of the time they weren’t even accused of a crime, but were targeted. Many Black people were found guilty for crimes they didn’t commit by all White jurors. These are the same all White jurors that would acquit the White supremacists who murdered Black people. In the case of 14-year-old Emmett Till, for instance, was accused of addressing a White woman “inappropriately” in a grocery store. He was later found dead in a river after being beaten and lynched by two White men. These two White men were found not guilty by an all White jury, and later admitted to killing Emmett Till. The justice system was severely flawed then, and is severely flawed now. White people are still getting away with killing Black people today. There have even been multiple cases of lynchings in 2020.

In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, laws could’ve been set in place against lynching, but they weren’t. Serious reconstruction needs to be done to our justice system. We can’t even pass an anti-lynching act in 2018. A lot of this is due to the political figures who abuse their power and fail to address the history of our country. Maybe if there were more political figures that supported an opposition to lynching and made an effort to put a stop to it, then something would’ve been done sooner. States and counties need to address the lynchings that happened, and construct memorials dedicated to the victims of these brutal lynchings. There is so much that could’ve been done and still can be done, but it’s difficult when you have a failing justice system and powerful political leaders who don’t care. If I was alive and living in a community where lynchings took place, I would try my best to gain support against lynching from others. I would also try to help and protect potential targets for lynchings. It would be difficult like others are saying because the lives of those who opposed and tried to do something about it were at risk. Nowadays you can reach thousands of people online, and can easily spread information, so I would use this to my advantage. I would try to inform as many people as possible and gain their support. A large amount of support from thousands of people can influence those in power to make a change.

Boston, Ma, US
Posts: 18

consequences of lynchings

Lynchings were perpetrated to maintain white supremacy and strike terror into Black communities. Similar to modern day killings by police, the perpetrators were not prosecuted and remained above the law. Terrorizing a group of people without consequences leads to a deep seated feeling of helplessness, without a plausible escape. The commonplace lynchings for any small infraction would have made fighting for better treatment seem like a death wish, which was the goal of the perpetrators. White southerners wanted Black Americans to continue to occupy a role below them in society, and they counted on complicitness of law enforcement and the indifference of the north.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, stronger legislation protecting Black Americans could have made a lot of progress. Another thing that could have helped would have been more federal authority over lynchings rather than local law enforcement which was entirely complicit in lynchings. In this time period, there wasn’t strong enough support among people in power to prevent lynchings so nothing was done.

I would think that if I was in a community where lynching occured frequently, I would feel powerless as an individual, but if there were other like minded people than I would try to organize against lynchings. I think today we need to acknowledge that lynchings did happen and they still shape criminal justice today. In the video we see a confederate monument in the town where lynchings occurred, but no memory of lynchings or their victims. Now we need to reform police and ban capital punishment, which steams directly from lynchings.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

An Issue that Lives on

The message behind these lynchings is that it has never ended. The generational trauma and fear it has inflicted on Black Americans since the day it first started to the very time you are reading this is prominent. As stated in, VI: Trauma and Legacy of Lynching, “In addition, lynching—and other forms of racial terrorism—inflicted deep traumatic and psychological wounds on survivors, witnesses, family members, and the entire African American community.” The acts of lynching will forever live in the brains of African Americans. It is almost undissolvable. An issue that was incredibly within the branches of power in the United States government, enforced by Confederate officials, proves how significant this problem still is today. In just 12 Southern States there were 4084 racial terror lynchings, from 1877 to 1950. 4084 too many. The acts of lynvhing also benefited the implementation of Jim Crow Laws, “Racial terror lynching was a tool used to enforce Jim Crow laws and racial segregation—a tactic for maintaining racial control by victimizing the entire African American community, not merely punishment of an alleged perpetrator for a crime.” (“Back to Brutality: Restoring Racial Hierarchy through Terror and Violence”) Lynching was a tool used to eliminate black Americans, it was never about punishment for “crimes”. It was punishment for just being black, and that has yet to be abolished. It’s disheartening to know that even when lynching “stopped” in the 1960’s, acts of lynchings against African Americans still continued. The affects of lynching are apparent in today’s society, regardless if the phyiscal act of lynching was put to an end. We see this through the inequalities in our justice system who have put innocent black men and women behind bars and sentenced to death. As stated in, “Back to Brutality: Restoring Racial Hierarchy through Terror and Violence”, “Most critically, lynching reinforced a legacy of racial inequality that has never been adequately addressed in America. The administration of criminal justice in particular is tangled with the history of lynching in profound and important ways that continue to contaminate the integrity and fairness of the justice system.” The acts of lynching were so rampant during this time and was implanted by our very own governemnt proves that lynching was an issue that has to be tackled on a greater scheme. The closest way that we could address and stop the act of lynching was by conversations, “Only by telling the truth about the age of racial terror and collectively reflecting on this period and its legacy can we hope that our present-day conversations about racial exclusion and inequality — and any policies designed to address these issues — will be accurate, thoughtful, and informed.” ( VI: Trauma and Legacy of Lynching). That is what I would’ve done. To at least spark conversation about lynchings, perform protests, write to government officials, etc, means something. However, it breaks my heart to know that it didn’t mean enough.. As we see today, it wasn’t until February 26th, 2020 that “the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (HR 35)” was passed by the house. And not even that Act could pass through the senate. This very act indicates the deep rooted systemic issues of lynchings and racial inequalities. An issue that has yet to be dissolved.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Terrorism Under the Guise of "Justice"

These lynchings happened to further show the power imbalance between white and black people, further perpetuating the strength of white supremacy. These extra-judicial "terror lynchings" were very effective in creating a climate of fear, as they were usually caused by minor social transgressions as opposed to major crimes, and the perpetrators were never brought to justice. These lynchings caused a mass exodus from the south by black people.

The biggest thing that could have been done to help was the northern whites not turning to the violence happening in the south, and actually trying to pass laws against the lynchings, as was proposed, but repeatedly abandoned. Another thing that could be done is holding the people who carried out the lynching responsible for the murder of another human being, which very rarely happens in these situations.

If I were to try to end lynchings in my community, I would start by making a community of like-minded people in the police force and judicial system, so as to hold the perpetrators accountable. I also would enlist anybody in the north who could help me in the attempt.

    Boston, MA, US
    Posts: 10

    Judge, Jury, and Executioner

    The message behind these horrific acts of terrorism was clear: when it came to black people, the white mobs were judge, jury, and executioner. White supremacy controlled the South with a reign of terror, for just looking at a white woman, a black man’s punishment would be death, more often than not preceded by public torture and humiliation. It created a country in which the judicial system would let these lynchings go unpunished and the law enforcement would leave the doors to the jail unlocked for the racist hoards. Over half of lynching victims were accused of murder or rape, both extremely serious offences that should be punished, but punished through the courts, not by a mob; furthermore many of these allegations were proven false years later, whether the story had been fabricated from the start, or the real perpetrator had been white and the black victim scapegoatted. Using sexual assaults against women as an excuse for lynching a black man is disgusting and cowardly, it was not protecting women from attacks, but rather taking advantage of women who had actually been raped to achieve their racist goals. These events were traumatic for the black community, but white crowds would come to watch the “spectacle”, even bringing their children along for a picnic as a human being was mutilated, hung, and burned in front of them. The postcards featuring pictures taken of lynchings were sent to friends and family as casually as we would send a postcard of the Grand Canyon today. These pictures show white crowds surrounding the hanging victims with smiles and amused looks on their faces, even the young boys and girls who were standing on their parents shoulders for a better view of the murder.

    As to what could’ve been done to stop these lynching, I’m not sure anything would’ve stopped them. The description of one of the images we looked at in class detailed what happened to the mayor of a town when he tried to stop his citizens from lynching and burning the corpse of William Brown, the mob tied him to a trolley pole, nearly killing him before police cut him down. Maybe if the justice system did something to punish those who committed the lynchings, instead of law enforcement being compliant, there would’ve been fewer lynchings, and our police force today would not be as corrupt as it is. A disgusting example of the police abetting these vicious attacks is in the EJI Report of Lynching in America (Section III: Lynching in America: From ‘Popular Justice’ to Racial Terror), “Alerted of Mr. Flemming’s offense, the local sheriff told the mob, ‘I’m busy, just go ahead and lynch him.’ They did.” Mr. Flemming’s crime was self defense, he accidentally fired a shot while wrestling the gun out of the hands of a man who tried to shoot him.

    What would I do if I lived in a time and community where lynchings were still taking place? Unfortunately, we still do. Lynchings still take place, just under a new name and wearing different clothes, police fatally shooting black people with no justifiable cause, white supremacists killing and going unpunished for months or even years. Today social media makes it easier to spread awareness and reach thousands, it also helps when planning protests, so the word can get out to more people and increase attendance. However, if I lived 19th and 20th centuries, I’d try to educate the children, teach them that lynching is not something that should be normalized or made into a game, that it’s a horrible act of hatred and ignorance. I’d also try to write something about how using the excuse of protecting women was invalid and wrong, similarly to Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s Crusade for Justice, and that we did not stand for this disgusting weaponizing of victims’ traumas. But clearly, the mobs didn’t care who stood up against them, anyone who protected their target was in the way, a traitor, so if I tried to stop them, I could also be attacked or killed. This was the whole point, to create an environment of terror and to force everyone to their knees, I believe that there were many people who wanted to speak up against the violence, but knew that if they did, there was a very good possibility of being killed. It seems that for some people, their self preservation instinct outweighed their moral obligation to do what was right.
    Posts: 21

    The message behind the thousands of lynchings that took place in the South from the end of the Civil War until WWII (and after) is clear. They were a tactic used by white supremacists to instill fear and white supremacy over African Americans. While the individual horrors of each specific lynching are horrifying enough by themself, they sent a larger message to African Americans in the south at this time, which was that this could happen to anyone. Lynchings happened simply because a black man said something to a white woman that she didn't like, or someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time. People were brutally murdered in broad daylight just for being black. And this is what drove this message of fear into African-Americans at this time; because the vast majority of these lynchings went absolutely unpunished, anything and everything could be a death sentence for a black person at this time. Whether they lived or died could be up to a white person's word. So, it didn't matter what African Americans did, whether it was legal. If a white person did not like what they did, they could be killed for it. This sent a message to African-Americans at this time that resistance was largely impossible and futile, because even if they did it in the most respectful, legal way, if it was not to the liking of white people at this time, someone could be brutally murdered. And so the horrific process of lynching that took place was a tool used by white Southerners to uphold a racial caste system.

    It is very difficult to speculate what could have been done to stop these lynchings, as corruption ran so deep into the roots of the United States government at this time that it would have been very difficult to raise any kind of legal or judicial penalties, punishments or legislative preventative measures to stop lynchings. Even if there were a handful of people in the federal government, or even state government who raised these issues and attempted to do something about them, it still comes down to local enforcement. On a town by town basis, these laws are enforced by corrupt and evil individuals who would have stood by and watched a lynching happen. So what about federal troops, or federal officials deployed to individual counties to stop lynchings? This seems a more promising solution, yet we still run into the problem of simple widespread tolerance of brutal racism. The sheer number of people who would actively participate in a lynching, or standby and watch and even take pictures, is truly shocking. The widespread compliance with the pattern of lynching throughout the south was the largest problem. Yes, deploying troops and federal officials may have decreased the frequency with which these horrific crimes happened, but the problem runs so deep into society that it would have taken societal upheaval on a national scale to truly put an end to lynchings. It can be argued that at the time these lynchings occurred, it would have taken a complete end to the racial prejudices and caste system that was in place to truly put a permanent end to these lynchings.

    Clearly, if I were around during these times I would like to think that I would have been an upstander, and tried to do something about these lynchings. I think the most effective way would not be to try and physically stop a mob with my own two hands, but rather to spread knowledge and awareness and compassion. I would try and get federal or state help to try and prevent these situations in the first place. I could act as a lawyer or an attorney for African-Americans who were not represented in court (although according to the pattern of lynchings, this didn't matter to the mob), and try to prove that they were innocent. It is very diffficult to think of concrete things that I could do during these times to try and put an end to lynchings, but the best thing I can think of would be to shore up support of other people who recognized how horrific this was and motivate them into action. I would like to believe that some of the people in these photos, standing by and watching black people be brutally murdered, at the very least recognized that this was wrong, although it is difficult for me to believe that no one ever stepped up. But this is where I would start; the people who stood by and watched because it was what they were expected to do but believed it was wrong. I think the best chance we could have had at ending lynchings in these communities would be to force bystanders to be upstanders, a task that is a lot easier said than done. If I witnessed such an event happen in our present society today, I do not think I could restrain from using physical force. It is bad enough that these horrifying crimes against humanity happened in our past, but for one to ever happen in our present society today would anger me to my core and probably motivate me to use physical force to stop whatever happened.

    Boston, MA
    Posts: 20

    Lynching and Its Legacy

    These lynchings were a way of mercilessly suppressing the voices of Black Americans and upholding the racist ideals that our nation was founded on. Beginning with slavery, white Americans used “othering” to justify the exploitation and abuse of Black people. When slavery was abolished, its implications did not die with it. White people still looked for ways to remain in power and silence all people of color. Black people were lynched without reason; their supposed crime was their Blackness. Lynching upheld white supremacy and instilled fear in Black communities, who risked their lives if they dared to speak out. The perpetrators of these lynchings were not seen as the murderers that they were, their actions were somehow justified. As Stevenson said in section V of the EJI report on lynching,“White mobs justified lynching as a preemptive strike against the threat of Black violent crime.” White people created an idea that all Black people were criminals, brutally and inhumanely killing them without reason. Unfortunately, for centuries white people “employed violent intimidation to regain political control over many Southern governments” (Section II). White people had political control, and protected their own race even for the most heinous acts. White people were far more concerned with maintaining their own power and suppressing the voices of all others than actually upholding the Constitutional rights promised to all Americans. Stevenson summed this experience up pretty well, writing “Though legally emancipated from slavery and endowed with constitutional rights to participate in society as full citizens, Black people soon learned that those rights were unenforceable in a white-controlled political system hostile to their exercise… Constructed of law and custom, force and fear, disenfranchisement, convict leasing, and Jim Crow segregation, the system was fragile and fiercely guarded.” While all Americans, including people of color, were granted the same rights, a political system run by white people sought only to protect other white people. Through violent intimidation, white people created a climate of fear. Black people were lynched for doing absolutely nothing wrong; one could only imagine what would happen to them if they fought their oppression. Black people were not protected by the law or the judicial system at all, let alone protected equally to white people. White mobs were able to justify murdering others with no reason, while Black people were killed for simply existing. Without protection, the climate of fear grew. Black people could not count on being protected if they spoke out; in fact, they could count on the exact opposite. This system thrived on people upholding white supremacist ideologies, the legacy of which lives on in America today. In the “Uprooted” video, she notes that “As a Black person, you don’t expect justice.” As we have all witnessed countless times in just this past year, our judicial system often fails to deliver justice to Black people. The racial inequality that was institutionalized centuries ago is still present in our justice system.

    In order to stop the act of lynching in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there needed to have been accountability. White people knew the government and judicial system would forgive them for their actions, so they did not fear the repercussions. Without accountability, people distorted the law and subject Black Americans to inhumane conditions. Unfortunately, this accountability came far too late, and in some ways, there is still no accountability. We’ve seen through the killing of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement that somehow, people still try to justify this racist behavior. Accountability would have required people at the time to abandon their white supremacy ideologies, which, evidently, was not an easy task. The systems of government needed to have more people in power that fought for the rights of Black people, instead of the white-dominated political system that existed. Something should have been done to stop this, but it is easier said than done when the government condoned such violent acts towards anyone who disagreed with white supremacy.

    It’s hard to know what the best course of action could have been at such a time, but I think I would have tried to get white people and people in power to understand that these lynchings were inhumane and unacceptable. Unfortunately, Black people’s voices were actively suppressed at the time. This is why it was, and still is, so important for people to amplify these voices if they have the privilege to do so. Standing in solidarity with Black people and protecting them was critical for privileged (white) people to do. Now, showcasing this racism and cruelty can reach a much larger audience through the internet. Through this, one can build movements much more easily and garner support from many others. Informing people of this injustice and creating outcry places pressure on legislators and those in power to act to protect victims and enforce the law.

    Boston, MA, US
    Posts: 20

    Facing the history of lynching

    Throughout history, lynching was used as a means of showcasing and maintaining white power over different minority groups, and especially, over black Americans through fear. The stereotypes of black men and the fear that they are all rapists, preying on white women, helped to justify the lynchings. A quote from a white women’s rights activist, Rebecca Felton, in section IV of the Bryan Stevenson report, was “‘[If] it requires lynching to protect woman’s dearest possession from ravening, drunken human beasts, then I say lynch a thousand a week if necessary’”. It’s quite interesting to see how a women’s rights activist, who believes in the idea of equality, would be pro-lynching because of this environment of fear created against black people, and especially black men, who were the majority demographic that was lynched. It shows how dangerous fear created through stereotypes could be— it could manipulate people to believe that such actions against minority groups were okay, and as such, no law was enforced for the lynchings of hundreds.

    To be honest, I have no idea how to answer the question on what could’ve been done to address and to stop the act of lynching in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It wasn’t like there was nobody trying to address these injustices— they were just not enforced and the majority of people believed that it was a justified action. There were plenty of organizations like the NAACP who worked towards an anti-lynching campaign, and it was pretty successful. However, the efforts seemed to always be counteracted by Southern representatives who continued to push against these anti-lynching legislations through fear, saying things like they were “bills that encouraged rape”. The majority of people did not want to have such legislations to get rid of lynching because it would mean that it allows the chance for black people to have a higher and more prominent role in society, and white people wanted to stay at the top. In a perfect world, I would wish that more people would not feed into the propaganda that black men were predators and rapists, and instead listen to anti-lynching campaigns. This also ties into how I would act if I were living in that time period. Quite frankly, I don’t think I would’ve gotten anywhere with my voice considering I am a person of color and a woman. However, I would like to believe that I would’ve been apart of the different campaigns advocating for anti-lynching policies even though my life would be at risk. The reality of it is, though, that I would’ve most likely been targeted for speaking out against it. As for present day, the only thing I can really do is to continue efforts to bring awareness to the history of lynching. So much of it has not really been taught or shown in school or it is quickly glossed over, and never does it any justice. Although we are currently in a pandemic and are unable to go, I think it would be a good idea to mark the sites of where lynchings happened throughout the country (even virtually) and make all students go on a tour to these places. At the very least, I think the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum should be a destination everybody should be encouraged to go to.

    Boston, Massachusetts, US
    Posts: 19

    Racial Voilence

    The reasons, or messages, that were put behind the several thousand lynchings that took place in our history was to scare and terrorize the Black community, in turn causing them to move to the north. What took place is beyond any sense of justification. Even if the African American individuals committed a real crime, which was rare in these instances, lynching should never be a result or coping mechanism to that. White supremacy could not be shown better than in these events, this is the literal definition of white supremacy. The sense of fear is severely distilled amongst the black communities during these times, and not just a "turning off the lights" fear, its fear of death, fear of being hung in front of people who don't care about you. The judicial system and law enforcement back then was a mess, being unlawful and not protecting certain people. Unfortunately, not all of that has gone away. Yes progress has been made on this front, but not nearly enough as one would think before indulging into the stories and events taking place.

    When you think now what could've been done to stop this inhumane act, your mind goes straight to the law and culture of the south. To say that the law enforcement system was unfair to african Americans would be an understatement. For lynchings to stop, the law would've needed to be altered. Secondly, the overall culture of the south would need to be different. The lynching wasn't things that just a small group of people knew about and carried out, it was done and known by large parts of the community in the south, and it wasn't something they were ashamed of. In fact, it seemed as though it became a normal part of their life, something you wouldn't think twice about.

    If I was alive during this time and I wanted to end the lynchings, I would gather a lot of people who agreed with me and go to the government. Going straight to the people who did it wouldn't do anything, it would only edge them on more to do it. In the time, going to the government with people who support you seems like the most logical explanation, also trying to help out families who's relatives underwent this treatment to get perspectives and point of views. If it was now, social media would be a huge platform to raise awareness and protest against it.

    Boston, Massachusetts , US
    Posts: 16

    The messages behind these lynchings came from a place of hatred. These lynchings left us with years and years of history and a way to look back. Like the introduction says, "Consequently, this legacy of racial inequality has persisted, leaving us vulnerable to a range of problems that continue to reveal racial disparities and injustice.". Lynching was used as a "justified" and "legal" way to end someones life based on race. Section three of the article states, "Such brutally violent methods of execution had almost never been applied to whites in America. Indeed, public spectacle lynchings drew from and perpetuated the belief that Africans were subhuman—a myth that had been used to justify centuries of enslavement, and now fueled and purportedly justified terrorism aimed at newly-emancipated African American communities.131 A report published in 1905 explained that". I found this quote specifically spoke to me because it amazed me how people could just sit back and watch as such horrible things took place.

    If I lived in a place where lynching happened, I would feel powerless, unable to help those in need. There's so much history behind lynching, as we all saw from the photos in class and even looking at those images make me feel helpless, almost like I wish I could go through the screen and into the image and help.

    Boston, MA, US
    Posts: 16

    Lynching from a African American's POV

    Before I start, I’d just like to say it’s very difficult for me to talk on the subject, simply because I am a black male. It’s so daunting knowing if I was born a century earlier I’d possibly experience something no human should have to face. The fact that lynching occoured on numerous occasions is something hard to believe. The fact that a group could be hunted and punished without a say is insanity. It’s even more insane that the wrong-doers most likely felt no shame. A group who thought they fought a civil war to gain their freedom and be considered humans, lynched for it. This group, African Americans, were on their own, almost as if they were prey. Most people claim that lynchings were a means of social and ethnic control used to terrorize black people into submission and a lower racial caste. Most of these lynchings were not legal, sometimes every law enforcement was involved, and hence nothing was done about them, nor were they stopped, and we can still see the deeply embedded racism in our law enforcement today.

    White supremacy was most definitely alive and well then making the only option, deeming lynchings illegal under law, impossible. Yes the African American community could have revolted, but how far would that have gotten them being the race seen as inferior without many resources. The best option would be to not invoke violence and push for legality as hard as possible, and we saw this work with legends like Dr. Martin Luther King.

    I think the human mind puts itself in scenarios where it makes itself think it can be the hero in any situation. That’s not the case it all most of us if not all would freeze up in a situation like lynching, I know I would. I’m gonna be honest, if I was living in a community with high lynching rates, I’d be a coward, I would stay inside, I would hide, as I wouldn’t want to be dragged for miles until I was disintegrated. Even if lynchings don’t happen at all or as much today, it still feels like it’s there, especially in our law enforcement. Despite this I think times are safer now to push on the problem of racial inequalities and the deeply disturbing history on lynching.

    Boston, Massachusetts, US
    Posts: 16

    Facing Lynching

    Lynchings were acts of terrorism taken by white supremacists in order to promote their racist ideas and spread fear throughout Black communities. Lynching was the response of white supremacists to attempts being made to give Black people a more equal footing in society. The primary goal of lynchings was to drive Black people out of communities, and spread ideas of white supremacy. These lynchings created a climate of fear throughout the country, so that Black people feared for their lives even in places where lynchings had not previously occurred. This concept of a climate of fear is common throughout the history of the United States, and can still be seen today with discrimination towards immigrants and minority communities. At the time that these lynchings took place, and up until this day, it is clear that many people in this country were and are still not able to count on or be protected by the judicial system and law enforcement. As Brian Stevenson found in his work and research on the judicial system. There is an immense inequality in the way that Black and white people are treated. Black people are far more likely to be given unjust sentences or misrepresented when given the opportunity to fight their case.

    When lynchings took place, they were public advertised events. It is shocking to see the crowds of white people around a lynched Black person’s body smiling while a photo is taken for a postcard. Due to the widespread support of lynchings, especially in the South during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it would have been extremely difficult to stop the act of lynching. The people who supported lynching were racist and not open to changing the way that Black people were treated. In order to overpower their goals, it would have taken immense effort by communities to put pressure on people in power to pass laws that make it illegal. However, passing laws is only part of the solution because those laws need to be enforced. There also needed to be punishments for those who participated in lynchings because at the time, even if it was done illegally, there were rarely repercussions for those involved.

    If I were living in a community where lynchings took place, I do not think that there would be much, if anything, that I could do. In a community such as that, I would be greatly outnumbered, and if I were to attempt to do anything about it, it would likely put me in a position of great danger. However, if I were in a similar situation now, there would be more that I could do. With the rise of social media, and the ease with which information can be spread, horrific crimes can potentially reach a large enough audience that can put pressure on officials to cause change.

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