The Historical Act of Lynching and Mass Incarceration in Today’s Society

Some do not know of the tragic story of what happened in 1923, in Rosewood, a town in Florida. I first learned of this true story when I watched the move.

“Rosewood” 21 February 1997 USA. Warner Brothers. Director John Singletary, Writer Gregory Poirier. Stars: John Voight, Ving Rhimes, Don Cheadle.

In the movie, a white woman had been beaten very badly, by a man  whom she was being intimate with, in her bedroom, while her husband was at work.

On this particular day, her lover became angry with her, and he beat her and abruptly left her house.  Because of her deceit, in cheating on her husband, and her shame of getting beat up, she announced, theatrically, that a black man had raped her and had caused her bruises, in order to spare herself of shame.

Because of her lie, the town of Rosewood, occupied by blacks only, and a place in which they owned their property, school, and businesses, was burned and destroyed.

Men and women were lynched by mobs of poor white men, most of whom did not live as well as the black residents of Rosewood.

In contrast to what happened in Rosewood in 1923, in today’s society, it is too often that men are sentenced to receive the death penalty for crimes they did not commit, and race is often a factor.

I would argue that the death penalty should  never had become law in America; a country that prides itself on being humane.

In the depth of sorrow, for some, a life for a life might seem justified, but what if the evidence against that person is false?  What if the evidence was generated based on deliberate deceptions and lies ?

The articles below are a few that explains in more detail the “Rosewood Massacre.”

Articles on the Rosewood Massacre:  January 1, 1923 11/24/15



Brian Stevenson, of the Equal Justice  Initiative, defends men on death row. Listen as he talks to Oprah about how as a nation we throw people away with little thought.


Richard Rosario is not a client of Bryan Stevenson,  but his case is an example of throwing away the life of a man who was innocent, with little thought given to his life.


New Yorker Wrongly Convicted of Murder





He also described how his life has been changed by the relationships he developed in his service to defend men sentenced to die by lethal injection.





“Impossible is Nothing”

Muhammad Ali

The purpose of this blog, is to create a digital collection of primary sources, for those researching unjust acts perpetrated against women in today’s society, to show relevance to the history of abuses against women, specifically,  women and girls who were lynched in Southern states in America.

The barriers present in today’s society due to the legacy of slavery are school to prison pipelines, mass incarceration, and disparities in earned income and decent housing for African-Americans.

Before these problems can be effectively addressed, as citizens of this great country, we must end the war on race that we fight among ourselves and begin to treat each other more humanely.

To accomplish this, it will take all Americans, on a daily basis, practicing tolerance and expressing love and kindness towards those who do not look like us, those who do not live in our neighborhoods, or have the same religious beliefs as we do, to create an atmosphere of peace among all of mankind in this country.


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“Crowd of people, with shadow of man hanging from tree superimposed over them.”

Library of Congress

While the act of lynching-hanging from a tree, is no longer an act that is prevalent in our country this society,  as a majority, women continue to be subjected to social stigmas that by large considers them unequal to men when competing for jobs considered “man’s work.”

In America, examples of inequality can be discerned by evaluating the small percentage of women elected into politics at the national level, and in surveying statistics that document salaries that women are paid in comparison to their male counterparts, who work in the same executive position.

In homes across this country, and especially here in South Carolina, women continue to experience and die from acts of domestic violence at alarming rates. In the media the bodies and character of black women who are accomplished world athletes, Harvard graduates, and respected mothers and wives in their communities are often more vilified than celebrated and are described using insulting stereotypes that defined the slave era and Jim Crow.

To aid women in receiving equal pay for equal work, “On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed his first piece of legislation to foster definitive changes: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.”

And while inequalities in pay and the exploitation of women are issues in America, those issues are compounded for women in other countries where girls are denied an education,or they can’t afford to go to school, and the act of exploiting and discriminating against them have greater consequences for their families and the communities and n which they live.

“Countries with the lowest standards of living and the highest rates of illiteracy are usually countries that do not educate their girls. Left unchecked, these inequalities in education will perpetuate violence, poverty and instability and will keep nations from achieving economic, political and social progress” Ambassador Melanne Verveer.

As displayed throughout history, it is through individual and group activism, and the making and enforcing laws that hold accountable those who commit acts against women and girls that disenfranchise, exploit, enslave, and butcher them, that change will come.

Anti-Lynching Bill

Mencken, lynching and civilization. Henry Mencken, author of note, testifies at the Senate Judiciary sub-committee hearing on the Anti-Lynching bill that

“Mencken, lynching and civilization. Henry Mencken, author of note, testifies at the Senate Judiciary sub-committee hearing on the Anti-Lynching bill that “no civilized country can condone lynching.” 2/14/35″

Library of Congress

While Lynching has been outlawed in America, acts of racial violence against African-Americans within their communities is still a problem, and women and girls are not excluded.

I want to use my art as a platform to advocate for the empowerment of women and girls worldwide through education.

Women activists like First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama challenge governments in communities worldwide to pass laws that make it a legal right for girls to receive an education.

The education of girls is important to fostering a just society because throughout history, it has been women who have advocated most for women’s rights, and were the ones who took the lead in challenging injustices against African-Americans as a community of the underserved . This was especially relevant during the Civil Rights Movement.

However long before the Civil Rights Movement, Ida B. Wells risked her life, and took the lead in documenting cases of lynching.  She was a fierce advocate in exposing the hypocrisy around the accusations that black men were lynched because of alleged acts of rape against white women.

Doesn’t like lynchings. Rep. Carolina O’Day, D. of N.Y., giving a woman’s viewpoint to the hearings on the Anti-Lynching Bill before the Senate Judiciary sub-committee said “Women do not need nor want to be protected by such a barbarous practices.” 2/14


Library of Congress


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“Ida B. Wells–I’d rather go down in history as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it had done a dastardly thing …”

Library of Congress

Dedication ceremonies--Ida B. Wells Homes ... parade along South Parkway ... Chicago Housing Authority

Library of Congress

Mary B Talbert Anti-Lynching

The Art in this blog was created to honor the memory of the many women and girls who were lynched on America’s soil, as well as the mothers of African-American males who were  sons, brothers and husbands, who were lynched in America.

This ongoing research and development of this database is dedicated to educating my readers about the many injustices committed against women and girls not only in America, but in countries around the world.

The legacy of  women like Ida B. Wells, and Mary Talbert, and others like them, continues through the work of women like Humanitarian  Zainab Salbi.  Listen to her story on youtube: Super Soul Sunday

“Super Soul Sunday” OWN Network.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee has two powerful stories to tell — of her own life’s transformation, and of the untapped potential of girls around the world. Can we transform the world by unlocking the greatness of girls?

Khalida Brohi: How I work to protect women from honor killings

Kakenya Ntaiya: A girl who demanded school

Women and Lynching in America

Between 1880 and 1910, close to 200 women were murdered by lynched mobs in the American South. Crystal N. Femister, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching”).

The Politics of Lynching

May make cash levy on lynching. These members of the Senate Judiciary Sub-committee considering the Costigan-Wagner Anti-Lynching Bill may report our a piece of legislation calling for a levy of from $2,000 to $10,000 against a county in which a lynching occurs to be paid to relatives of the victim. From the left: Sen. Edward P. Costigan, D. of Colo.; Sen. Frederick Van Nuys, D. of Ind.; Sen. Joseph F. Guffy, D. of Pa., and Sen. William H. Dieterrich, D. of Ill. 2/14/35

May make cash levy on lynching. These members of the Senate Judiciary Sub-committee considering the Costigan-Wagner Anti-Lynching Bill may report our a piece of legislation calling for a levy of from $2,000 to $10,000 against a county in which a lynching occurs to be paid to relatives of the victim. From the left: Sen. Edward P. Costigan, D. of Colo.; Sen. Frederick Van Nuys, D. of Ind.; Sen. Joseph F. Guffy, D. of Pa., and Sen. William H. Dieterrich, D. of Ill. 2/14/35

Library of Congress

Because this project is a work in process, there is no claim that the list of names in this Blog is one that includes all women or girls who were lynched in America between 1880 and 1910, as there were times when the names of individuals who had been lynched, or those suspected by family members as a result of an unexplained disappearance to had been lynched, were not always reported or investigated.

For students conducting research, it is important to note that Gross injustices against blacks such as lynchings did not occur only in the South, nor did protest marches which sought an end to injustices against blacks occur only in southern states.

Hate Crimes Begin with Expressed Prejudices

    [African American children on way to PS204, 82nd Street and 15th Avenue, pass mothers protesting the busing of children to achieve integration]

“African American children on way to PS204, 82nd Street and 15th Avenue, pass mothers protesting the busing of children to achieve integration 1965.”  New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection.

Library of Congress

Mrs. Claire Cumberbatch, of 1303 Dean St., leader of the Bedford-Stuyvesant group protesting alleged

‘Mrs. Claire Cumberbatch, of 1303 Dean St., leader of the Bedford-Stuyvesant group protesting alleged “segregated” school, leads oath of allegiance.”

Library of Congress

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“Members of the NAACP New York City Youth Council picketing for anti-lynching legislation before the Strand Theater in Times Square 1937”

Library of Congress

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‘Photograph shows Daniel Atwood, Parren Mitchell, and Mr. Bracy picketing in front of Ford’s Theater to protest racial segregation 1948″

Library of Congress

Blacks were not lynched exclusively in states in the South.

“Lynching was not a sectional crime, and while a majority of lynching’s happened in Southern and border states, not all lynching happened in the rural South.”  Lynchings also happened in Maryland, West Virgina, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kansas. Terrance Finnegan “A Deed So Accursed”

“The United States has a violent history of domestic violence. It is an ugly episode in our national history that has long been neglected.”  Of the several types of American violence, one type stands out as one of the most inhumane chapters of the history of the world? the violence committed against Negro citizens in America by white people.” Gibson.

Robert A. Gibson covers the period between 1880 to 1950 in which lynching is referred to as “The Negro Holocaust.”  A course entitled “The Negro Holocaust:Lynching and race Riots in the United States 1880 – 1950, is/was offered at Yale University. 4/3/15

Why were the fears of whites so entrenched that they murdered blacks so inhumanely?  “To be sure, lynching activity resulted from a boiling cauldron of social tensions, not just political conflict, but in Mississippi, lynching incidents increased by a third in the ten years following the passage of the 1890 constitution as compared to the decade immediately prior.”Finnegan 73.

“In South Carolina, the situation was similar: lynching incidents increased by 25 percent in the fifteen years following the new constitution that had disfranchised blacks.” Terrance Finnegan, “A Deed So Accursed: Lynching in Mississippi and South Carolina” 73.

Considering the racial tensions during Reconstruction, it is reasonable to determine that some of the individuals that disappeared without warning had been lynched.  For this reason, there is no way to accurately tally and account for all of the people who were  lynched in America.

Civil Rights activist Unita Blackwell, the first African-American woman to be elected Mayor in the state of Mississippi, Mayersville, Mississippi, offers evidence of this fact.

During an interview for Rutherford Living History, Unita Blackwell talked about her life. In one part of the discussions, she spoke of her grandfather, whom she described as “part Indian and was  known to stand up to white folks.” She said that he went to work one day and he never returned home.  “We knew that they killed him…whites folks.” She said.

“Mississippi had the highest incidence of lynchings in the South as well the highest for the nation, with Georgia and Texas taking second and third places respectively.”  Lynching took place in all states he wrote, except for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont.” (Gibson)

When an individual is killed by a police officer who used excessive force, the act is often witnessed by other police officers called who are called to the scene for backup.  Like the case of Eric Gardner, during a lynching, the murder often happened in the presence of law enforcement officers who stood by and witnessed the crime.

While the women memorialized in this blog were all lynched between 1880 and 1910; acts of violence against women in this country and in countries around the world have been an ongoing topic of concern.  In today’s society, black women are not being hung from trees, but they represent a significant portion of prison incarcerations.

“According to the Bureau of Justice statistics (B J S) the total female prison population in 2011 was 1,598,780.  The total number of women in prison in 2011 was 111,387. The total number of Black women in prison in 2011 was 26,000 or 23% of the total female prison population.  But, the rate of imprisonment for Black women was 129/1000 or 3% (this figure is .05% for White women).  The Black women’s rate is 6 times higher than for White women” ( Earl Smith ).

These are the issues that will be discussed in this blog along with topics on genital mutilation, human trafficking, and the forced enslavement of women and children who are sexually abused, and those forced into to prostituting their bodies.

In spite of the attention brought to the barbaric act of genital mutilation, this procedure is still being forced upon girls and young women.  For those who are unfamiliar with the subject or process of genital mutilation, it is explained in an article in “The Guardian,” at the site below. 3/30/15

Articles will be highlighted on the injustices of women in other countries like the article about Farkhunda, a 27 year old woman in Kabul, Afghanistan was lynched by a mob on March 22, 2015 for allegedly burning a Koran.

The art in this blog was created to be used as an educational tool to bring awareness to acts of violence against women in past times, and in our world today. It is my stance that many acts of violence that ended in the death of an individual, either by their own hands, or by the hands of a perpetrator, began with bullying tactics.

Mob violence was simply one small group, or massive group of fearful individuals who sought to calm their fears and insecurities by making others fearful of them. Bullying is a major topic of discussion in schools, in the work place, and it should be up for discussion in churches as well as a deterrent.

Those who bully have no boundaries. They do not respect the lives or the rights of others.    Emotional and physical abuse, murder, and suicide all result from the tactics of bullying.

Many in the world has been slaughtered as a result of a dictator system of law.  Hitler could be described by many names.  I would argue that a bully is one.  Like the victims of lynch mob violence, his victims were insanely tortured.

The concept of the Holocaust Museum, located in our nations capital, inspired me to try to emulate, on a smaller scale, their  concept of memorializing the lives of the women and girls who were murdered by the act of lynching on America’s soil.

Unlike the Holocaust Museum, which has a collection of actual photographs of individuals who were victims of genocide, there is no extensive collection of photos that can be searched and from it a substantial pool of photographs extracted for the use of a database of the victims.

I am a self-taught artist who is ambitious and determined to create an online memorial of art, and later have the art housed in one location.

The art that I create is abstract and has been created in the spirit of being used in the absence of photographs, like those that line the walls of the Holocaust Museum.  I use my art as a personal declaration that the lives of the women and children who were lynched on America’s soil mattered to those who loved them, and it matters to me.

The art can be interchangeable, as far as the names are concerned.  I elected to make the art interchangeable and not dedicate one specific piece to any one individual because the art is created with the intent that it will be used to memorialize the death of the individuals collectively.

No attempt whatsoever has been made to try to depict their true features. The art is simply an offering of my condolence.  A majority of the pieces are colorful and unique in style, while others are drawings of pencil and charcoal.

Like the concept of the Holocaust Museum, I wish to preserve the memory of the victims of lynching through more than words alone.  I hope that the spirit of the women and girls will live on through my art, just as the memory of the holocaust victims are remembered through visiting the museum, and the viewing of their photographs and memorabilia.

It is important however to do more than just talk about past atrocities that happened to women.  Ongoing injustices that continue to disenfranchise, brutalize, murder and enslave women in America and abroad must be eliminated.

Likewise, it is important to express appreciation for those who work towards this effort.  A great example is Lawyers and Doctors Without Borders.

What are you doing to educate others about the many unjust conditions women and children in America and abroad are forced to live with and endure?  What effort are you personally making to  motivate change; change that would make this country, and our world, a more humane and lawfully just place to live within?

Eleanor Roosevelt, full-length portrait, standing at bottom of the Grand Staircase in the White House, facing left 1937.

Library of Congress

[Eleanor Roosevelt, full-length portrait, standing at bottom of the Grand Staircase in the White House, facing left]

“Letter, Eleanor Roosevelt to Walter White detailing the First Lady’s lobbing efforts for federal action against Lynching, 19 March 1936.”

(National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Records)

Library of Congress

Lynching In Today’s Society

“Eyes Of The Rainbow – a documentary film with Assata Shakur”

b&w film copy neg.

“Demand withdrawal of civil rights program”

Library of Congress

Senator J. Howard McGrath (seated), Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, meeting with governors (l-r) Ben T. Laney, of Arkansas, R. Gregg Cherry, of North Carolina, William P. Lane, Jr., of Maryland, J. Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, and B.H. Jester, of Texas, to “air their grievances against President Truman’s civil rights program. 1948”

Library of Congress

Angelina Emily Grimké (1805-1879)

Sarah Moore Grimké (1792-1873)

Angelina and Sarah Grimke: Abolitionist Sisters

Charleston, South Carolina

Before Emancipation “The Grimke sisters were among the first abolitionists to recognize the importance of women’s rights and to speak and write about the cause of female equality.”

East African slaves aboard the Daphne, a British Royal Navy vessel

East African slaves aboard the Daphne, a British Royal Navy vessel involved in anti-slave trade activities in the Indian Ocean, 1868.

The National Archives of the UK

Filibuster against anti-lynching bill. Washington, D.C., Jan. 27. Members of the bloc of Southern Senators who have been filibusting against the anti-lynching bill for the last 20 days and are still going strong, left to right: Senator Tom Connaly, of Texas, Sen. Walter F. George, of Ga.; Sen. Richard Russell of Ga.; and Sen. Claude Pepper of Florida, 1/27/38

“Filibuster against anti-lynching bill. Washington, D.C., Jan. 27. Members of the bloc of Southern Senators who have been filibustering against the anti-lynching bill for the last 20 days and are still going strong, left to right: Senator Tom Connaly, of Texas, Sen. Walter F. George, of Ga.; Sen. Richard Russell of Ga.; and Sen. Claude Pepper of Florida, 1/27/38”

Library of Congress

In Memory of Women Lynched in Florida

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“Related to NAACP investigation into the lynching of Claude Neal, at Marianna, Florida, 1934.”

Library of Congress

In Memory of Mamie Till Whose Son Emmett was Lynched in  Mississippi

“The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till”

Women Lynched In Mississippi

When men were lynched, women became the sole supporter of their families. - Larger images available only at The Library of Congress

“J.P. Ivy, Negro timber cutter, was burned to death Sept. 25 by a mob of Union and Lee Counties … Ivy … denied having to do anything with the assault [on a white girl]”–photo caption 1920 – 1930.”

Library of Congress

[African American and white Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrating outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey; some hold signs with portraits of slain civil rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner]

“African American and white Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrating outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey; some hold signs with portraits of slain civil rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.”

Library of Congress

[African American and white Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrating outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey; some hold signs with portraits of  slain civil rights workers Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner]

African American and white Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrating outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey; some hold signs with portraits of slain civil rights workers Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.


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“Caucasian woman and African-American woman, protesting segregation, sitting side by side on stools at a Nashville, Tenn. lunch counter that has been roped off . 1960”

Library of Congress

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Nashville police officer wielding nightstick holds African-American youth at bay during a civil rights march in Nashville, Tennessee 1964.  New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection

Library of Congress

In Memory of Women Lynched In Texas

Crowd of people gathered in street to watch the lynching of Jesse Washington, several men in tree appear to be securing chain or rope, Waco, Texas

b&w film copy neg.

Library of Congress

The fight to feel validated as a human being has been an ongoing process for African-Americans.

The fight, which has spanned hundreds of years and has taken on many forms, at one time in history resulted in African – Americans who were lynched by mobs of people who did not value their lives as fellow human beings.

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NAACP youth and student members marching with signs protesting Texas segregation laws, Houston, Texas 1947″

Lynching Georgia 1940 – 1950

Group of African Americans marching near the Capitol Building in Washington, D. D. to protest the lynching of four African Americans in Georgia 1946.

[Group of African-Americans, marching near the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to protest the lynching of four African-Americans in Georgia]

Library of Congress

The Struggles of Women and African-Americans

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Library of Congress


“People marching with signs to protest segregation in education at the college and secondary levels”

b&w film copy neg. LC-USZ62-116817

“People marching with signs to protest segregation in education at the college and secondary levels 1947.”

Library of Congress

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“Elmer Mosee, Daisy Lampkin, and Sidney R. Redmond, full-length portraits, holding signs protesting lynching”

Library of Congress

Greyhound Bus Station at 210 South Court Street in Montgomery, Alabama

Greyhound Bus Station at 210 South Court Street, Montgomery, Alabama

The site of a violent attack on participants in the 1961 Freedom Ride during the Civil Rights Movement. The mob of white protesters confronting the civil rights activists, “shocked the nation and lead the Kennedy Administration to side with civil rights protesters for the first time.” No longer used as a bus station, the building was saved from demolition and its façade has been restored.

Library of Congress

[African American demonstrators outside the White House, with signs

“African-American Demonstrators, outside the White House, with signs “We demand the right to vote everywhere,” and signs protesting police brutality against civil rights protestors in Selma Alabama 1965″

Library of Congress

“Sea of 30,000 civil rights demonstrators gathered outside the Alabama state capitol following their march from Selma to Montgomery 1965”

Library of Congress

“Mounted Dallas County possemen (policeman) stand by as an Alabama state trooper tries to get Negro woman to her feet after police used tear gas, clubs and ropes to break up a protest march yesterday outside Selma 1965”

Library of Congress

digital file from original item

“African-American boy holding protest sign in front of piles of signs on the ground at the March on Washington 1963.”

Library of Congress

[The civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965]

Photograph shows some participants in the civil rights march sitting on a wall resting, one holds a placard which reads, “We march together, Catholics, Jews, Protestant, for dignity and brotherhood of all men under God, Now! 1965”

Library of Congress

African-Americans kneel on sidewalk outside City Hall in Birmingham, Alabama protesting racial segregation

Library of Congress

Exact spot on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama, where Rosa Parks waited for the bus on that fateful day that turned the Civil Rights Movement into a raging human rights war

Exact spot on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama, where Rosa Parks waited for the bus on that fateful day that turned the Civil Rights Movement into a raging human rights war.

Library of Congress

Mothers Felt the Backlash of Injustices Through The Terror of Their Sons

The Scottsboro Boys

Understanding Powell v. Alabama

The Trials of The Scottsboro Boys 4/18/15

Four Little Girls

Uploaded for Educational Purposes Only

“Four Little Girls Killed in 1963 Birmingham Bombing Remembered”

Loretta Lynch, Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, was  Confirmed on Thursday, April 23, 2015, as the United States Attorney General. 

She replaced Attorney General Eric Holder.  She is the first African-American Woman to become Attorney General of the United States of America. 

In Memory of Women Lynched In Arkansas

Little Rock, 1959. Rally at state capitol

“Photograph showing a group of people, several holding signs and American flags, protesting the admission of the “Little Rock Nine” to Central High School 1959.”

Library of Congress

Little Rock, 1959. Rally at state capitol

“Photograph shows a group of people, one holding a Confederate flag, surrounding speakers and National Guard, protesting the admission of the “Little Rock Nine” to Central High School 1959.”

Library of Congress

“Police Officials Resigned After A Small Town In Missouri Elected It’s First Black Female Mayor”

Huffington Post

New York Daily News

“Luck – When opportunity meets preparation”

Oprah Winfrey


Unita Blackwell, First Black Woman Mayor of Mississippi: In Memory of Women Lynched in America

“People Who Practice Racism are Bereft.  There is Something Distorted About the Psyche”

Toni Morrison

A picture of Laura Nelson lynched along with her fourteen year old son in Okemah, Oklahoma

I first became interested in the subject of Lynching as a research topic in 2011, when I took a terrorism seminar under Professor William Jelani Cobb, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

I have since dedicated my time to writing about the lives of women and girls who were lynched on America’s soil, and to creating one piece of art to honor the memory of each of the women.

I have embarked upon this endeavor first and foremost because I love to conduct research on topics of women in History and second because black woman continue to be disrespected in the media and her womanhood questioned.  (First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama: Maya Angelou Memorial Service.)

In this Blog, I write about two women who were lynched in Mississippi, Mahala Jackson and Louisa Carter.  When I think of all of the lives that were lost as a result of mob violence and lynching; I can’t help but wonder what contributions the young girls and the women would have contributed to our society.  Each life had tremendous value.

“Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory- we must find our own voice and decide our own value and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright.” Dr. Maya Angelou-(First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama).

Unita Blackwell was one of God’s gifts to Mississippi.

Although Mrs. Blackwell bore emotional and physical scars; she survived them all.  Her legacy is long.  Among her social and political accomplishments, is the fact that in 1976, she became the First Black Woman Mayor of one of the most racist state in this country.

Mahala Jackson, Louisa Carter, Unita Blackwell, and all of the women listed in this Blog had a lot in common.  In their lifetimes, each had experienced grave injustices, and while the lives of some of the women ended tragically, the good news is that one woman lived to do something about the laws and the conditions under which black people lived in Mississippi.

Mahala Jackson and Louisa Carter were both lynched in Quincy, Mississippi.  Their alleged crime was well poisoning.  Ida B. Wells, crusader against lynching, was also threatened with lynching.

“When she herself was threatened with lynching, she brought into focus what the “black rapist” myth had masked: southern white men’s violence against women.” Crystal N. Femister, 159.

Black women had not been accused of the crime of raping white women as black men had been accused, so why were they being lynched, raped, mutilated, and their bodies set on fire, in the same manner in which white men murdered and lynched black men? No consideration and no pity was given for the fact that she was a woman.

“Wells insisted in her 1895 pamphlet, ‘A Red Record’ that the lynching of black women was proof that southern mob violence had little if anything to do with protecting women against rape.” Femister, 159.

Mobs of white men often took legal matters into their own hands and lynched blacks based more upon their egos and racist emotions than on the facts.  Even in the presence of an official of the law, and in this case, in spite of being acquitted by a jury, innocent people were lynched.

According to Wells, “The two women were accused of poisoning a well and hanged by a white mob after a coroner’s jury had found them innocent.  Even a legal acquittal did little to protect the women from the demands of the Christian white people.”  She further protested “In any other land and with any other people, the fact that these two accused persons were women, would have pleaded in their favor for protection and fair play, but that had no weight with the Mississippi Christians.” Femister, 159.

In addition to Ms. Jackson and Ms. Carter’s murder, the women listed below were lynched in Mississippi between 1886 and 1957.

November 4, 1878                    Maria Smith                                Hernando MS

Alleged crime murder

May 9, 1891                               Mrs. Lee                                      Lowndes MS

Son Accused of Murder

September 28, 1891                 Louise Stevenson                       Hollandale MS     Alleged crime murder

September 16, 1891                  Louisa Carter                             Jackson MS         Alleged crime well poisoning

September 16, 1891                  Mahala Jackson                          Jackson MS

Alleged crime well poisoning

July 24, 1891                              Negro Woman                          Simpson Cty. MS  Alleged crime race prejudice

November 18, 1896                  Mimm Collier                             Steenston, MS      Alleged crime unknown

February 9, 1897                      Negro Woman                            Carrolton, MS       alleged crime theft/arson

March 23, 1899                        Willa Boyd                                  Silver City MS

Unknown Date                          Ida McCray                                Carrolton, MS       Alleged crime knowledge of theft

May/June 28, 1914                  Jennie Collins                             Shaw MS               alleged crime aiding in escape

December 21                             Alma House                               Shubuta, MS

Alleged crime murder

May 5, 1919                              Unknown Negro Woman         Holmes MS            Alleged crime race prejudice

April 9, 1921                             Rachel Moor                             Rankin, MS

Alleged crime race prejudice

September 31, 1923                                                                   Holmes MS

Alleged crime race prejudice

July 6, 1930                             Mrs. Jane                                  Markeeta MS

Alleged crime race prejudice

September 10, 1930              Pigg Lockett                             Scooba MS

The fact that women were lynched was tragic and it was not only a tragic loss for those within the black community, or for their children, or the relatives and friends that they left behind; It was a tragic loss for the human race and for our society as a whole.  The women who were lynched did not get to live out their life’s potential, and it will never be known the gifts or talents that went unsung.

I emphasis the injustice and tragic loss of the lives of the women who were lynched,  by acclaiming the life of one woman who has been instrumental in effecting social and political changes in lives of the people in Mississippi, and in communities worldwide.  Because Unita Blackwell was a native of Mississippi, I thought it would be fitting and  enlightening to discuss her life as a part of the discussion of the lynching of black women in Mississippi.  Before her birth in 1933, seventeen women had been lynched in Mississippi.

In many cases black women were lynched because they spoke against unfair treatment by whites, and in defense of their rights.  Unita Blackwell was a very outspoken woman who questioned why the lives of black people was so hard and why they barely had food and provisions when the same was not true of the condition of  white people.

Her life’s legacy helps to reveal a relevant case and point of what a tragic loss to society it would have been had Mrs. Blackwell been murdered by Klan members because of her community activism in Mississippi.

Mrs. Blackwell came from a family of people who loved her and were strong influences in her life.  She spoke of the fact that she knew that her father loved her and she felt the love of her mother.  They apparently were her mentors as a child and she respected and looked up to them.

“I had witnessed my father talk back to a white man.  My uncle Tome did the same thing and he got a way to Memphis Tennessee.”  Her father had gone to Memphis also.  “You couldn’t look white folks in the eyes and you couldn’t talk back to them.  If they told you to do something you had to do it.”

Blacks knew that the consequence of standing up for themselves or others against whites involved the risk of being silenced permanently.  The lynching of black people in southern states across the country was evidence of that, and talk of affording civil rights to blacks was seen as a threat to the supremacy of whites.

When black men left town after an altercation with a white man, it was not because they were afraid of white men, they left because they knew that the protection of the law did not extend to them.

“My grandfather on my father’s side worked in the sugar cane fields in Louisiana, and one day he run into a problem because he was one to speak up.  He came up missing and we knew that the white people had taken him.” My grandmother was left with three children to raise.” She said.

Unita Blackwell spoke of her grandmother as being someone that she could talk about civil rights issues with when other family members “didn’t even want you to come to their houses.” she said.   They were afraid that even an association with her would bring problems to them. Mrs. Blackwell was fearless like her grandmother when it came to gaining equal rights..  “My grandmother had registered to vote in Arkansas when no one was registering.”  When Mrs. Blackwell decided to work as an organizer in her community, getting people registered to vote, her grandmother told her mother that she was right for wanting to do so.

“No one in my family liked the way that blacks were treated” she said.  “When the Freedom Riders came to Mississippi teaching us about our history and our right to register to vote, I felt that now was the time to do something to make things better for my son.

Fighting for civil rights in the 1960’s took courage and those who signed registered people to vote took their lives into their own hands.  there were consequences involved in fighting for civil rights in Mississippi.  As a result of her activism she experienced emotional violence.  Her own experiences with whites included having had crosses burned in her front yard, having bombs thrown at her home, and being arrested more than seventy times.  In spite of all that she experienced, she did not stop fighting to gain civil rights of blacks.

Not everyone who experienced extreme racism was drawn to fight as vigorously as Mrs. Blackwell.  She risked her life to get people in her community registered to vote while aware of the murders of James Cheney, who was from Mississippi, and Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman who were from New York. ” In 1964 they had come to Mississippi to register people to vote and disappeared during Freedom Summer.  They were found murdered.”

Knowledge of the fact that they had been lynched did not stop the struggle, in fact knowing that people were dying for her rights motivated her to continue her activism.  “White students, some of them younger than me, 18, 19, and 20 years old, traveled from all over to come to Mississippi to teach us about our history and our rights, and they were fighting for our rights right alongside us.”

Terence Finnegan wrote “In September 1889, the Yazoo Delta (which is in Mississippi), experienced an orgy of violence when whites massacred about twenty-five blacks in Leflore County. Despite the violence, blacks were not cowed into submission and refused to accept obsequiously the will of whites. ” A Deed So Accursed, 64,65.

Mrs. Blackwell was Born on a plantation not far from the Yazoo Delta  in  Lula, Mississippi, in Coahoma County.  Lula is about 81 miles, a 1 1/2 hours drive from Leflore County, where the massacre took place in 1889, only 44 years before her birth.

To categorize the work Unita Blackwell did in her community is difficult to do because in her lifetime she wore so many hats.  Therefore to say that she was a Civil Rights Leader does not begin to scratch the surface of the social and political influence she had in this country.

She became a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, (SNCC) and she worked alongside activists who risked their lives to change laws that would grant blacks inclusion into a segregated society and improve the quality of life for blacks in this country.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.” John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

As a member of SNCC she worked with Stokely Carmichael who took her over to meet Fanny Lou Hammer.  “Although we knew it, Fannie told us they beat her until she was hard.”  Still, she did not hate whites the way they hated black people.

Mrs. Blackwell worked with Fannie Lou hammer and she became one of the key organizers of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged the seating of the all-white delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1964.

In addition to being a member of SNCC, Unita Blackwell  became the “First Black Woman Mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi, she was Chair of the Black Women Mayors’ Caucus, and she was the Second Vice-President of the National Conference of Black Mayors.  Throughout the 1970’s she served as a Community Development Coordinator for the National Council of Negro Women.” Lanker, 50.

“I visit countries.  I worked on the normalization process between the United States and China as the people – to – people person.  I’ve been to China fifteen times Hong Kong thirty-six times, I’ve been to Switzerland, Romania, India, Central America, and a lot of places.  I still come home.  I never left Mississippi.”  Lanker 50.

Mrs. Blackwell used due process of the law to her advantage. “I was one of the people who filed lawsuits against every agency and operation by white people in Mississippi.”

“Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education was one of the very first desegregation cases in Mississippi.  Students were suspended for wearing SNCC pins to school so SNCC provided Freedom Schools for the students to attend, which attracted highly qualified teachers from across the nation to undeserved areas  from 1965 through the 1970’s.”

I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, Brian Lanker, 50.

Her fight for civil rights was taxing on her mentally and physically.  “I was arrested every day during one time, everyday straight for thirty days.  It may be seventy-five times I’ve been in jail. They wouldn’t tell black folks when we were in jail because the Klan could get to us in jail.  That ‘s how a lot of people were beaten up and killed.”  Lanker, 50.

In 1964, Klan members burned crosses in her yard.  Once she called the F.B.I. in Jackson and she said:

“You come taking about you’re going to call the police?  You couldn’t trust no body because the police was the Klans.  The police was burning the cross in my yard.”  She said “Have you ever been in a condition where there was no place that you could call for help?” Lanker, 50.

The racial problems they experience as a community made them “close like family she said, and I don’t mean the estranged kind either.”  Historians agree that solving problems like having to find homes for people who were put off white folks property in retaliation to registering to vote did create bonds.

“We have also begun to understand that despite the brutality and inhumanity, or perhaps because of it, a distinct African-American culture based on close-knit kinship relationships grew and thrived, and it was that kindred experience that created a bond among black people that rallied them to each other’s defense through many trials they endured before and after emancipation.” Deborah Gray White, Ar’n’t I a Woman? 25.

I once thought of blacks as victims of racism because police officers, who were suppose to protect people who protested peacefully and nonviolently, had no regard for black people and they allowed their German Sheppard attack dogs to bite them and they attached hoses to fire hydrants and let the hoses loose even on black women and children knocking them down in the streets. and when SNCC students sat in at lunch counters to protest segregation, whites spat on them.

With all that black people have endured while fighting for basic human rights in this country by the hands of white people, their strength of character, and their ability to act in a controlled manner while they were treated so inhumanely speaks volumes to the power of a a race of people.

Because of this, I no longer view black people as victims because to say that they were victims gives too much power to their abusers which means that it takes power away from the person being treated unjustly.  Those who sat in at lunch counters, and those who marched and fought to gain human and civil rights were not powerless.  In fact they used their power in a unified manner.  They were not victims, they were victors.

On the topic of racism, when Toni Morrison was interviewed by acclaimed Interviewer and Broadcast Journalist Charlie Rose, she said:

“The people who do this thing, who practice racism are bereft.  There is something distorted about the psyche.  It’s a huge waste, and it’s a corruption and a distortion.  It’s like it’s a profound neurosis that nobody examines for what it is.  It feels crazy, it is crazy, and it has just as much a deleterious effect on white people, and possibly equal as it does blacks.”

“Toni Morrison Take White Supremacy to Task.”

During a different talk, hosted by the New York Public Library, Toni Morrison and Angela Davis discussed Literacy, Libraries and Liberation.  During that talk, Toni Morrison spoke on the purpose of racism.  “Racism has a real function which is power and control, and money which is pretty much the same thing.”  In reference to having experienced racism she said “I never felt racism the way it was intended because I always felt those people were deficient in some way.”

“Maybe you can call it arrogance, she said, but the acts of racism showed towards her in spite of whether the acts came from children when she was a child, or adults, were so stupid that she could not feel the degradation of it.”

Toni Morrison and Angela Davis, New York Public Library, October 27, 2010.

Her views on racism shed new light upon my understanding of the mental state of white men and women who packed picnic lunches and took their children with them  to eat food while they watched a human body burn as though the corpse was pheasant.

While I always thought that people who could committed such acts were crazy, you know, as people often refer to others as being “crazy,” I failed to realize that they likely suffered from mental disorders.  In other words to just say they were crazy did begin to articulate the possibility of the depth of their mental problems.

Sources:  Toni Morrison and Angela Davis, New York Public Library, October 27, 2010.   Toni and Angela discussed Frederick Douglass, Libraries, literacy, and Liberation.

Crystal N. Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Lynching


“People Who Practice Racism are Bereft.

There is Something Distorted About the psyche

“Toni Morrison

This blog, and the art that I draw, has been inspired by the story of Mary Turner.  Mrs. Turner was lynched in Valdosta Georgia,  at the age of twenty-one years old, while she was eiight months pregnant.  I heard her unbelievable story in my senior year, while taking a history seminar on terrorism, taught by professor Jelani Cobb, at Rutgers University, in 2011.