New Report Documents Southern States’ History of Lynching Blacks, Many Innocent
A new report released on Tuesday reveals that between 1877 and 1950, nearly 4,000 people—most of them black and many of them innocent—were lynched in 12 states in the southern United States.
New York Times
writes that the report is a culmination of 160 visits to lynching sites and more than five years of research, led by Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative. The report, says Stevenson, adds 700 new names to existing lists—by the
, the Tuskegee institute, the NAACP and researchers—that have also aimed to account for the number of lynchings in the United States.
“Many of these lynchings were not executing people for crimes but executing people for violating the racial hierarchy,” [Stevenson] said, meaning offenses such as bumping up against a white woman or wearing an Army uniform. But, he continued, even when a major crime was alleged, the refusal to grant a black man a trial — despite the justice system’s near certain outcome — and the public extravagance of a lynching were clearly intended as a message to other African-Americans…
“Lynching and the terror era shaped the geography, politics, economics and social characteristics of being black in America during the 20th century,” Mr. Stevenson said, arguing that many participants in the great migration from the South should be thought of as refugees fleeing terrorism rather than people simply seeking work.
Now that the report is released, Stevenson’s organization will begin the process of identifying lynching sites to set up permanent memorials and markers, something which has been done for only a select few sites historically.
Stevenson told the
that the report and memorials will force people to see the length and extent of the nation’s ugly racial history.
See the full history here
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