More About Blacks Lynched in the South

Newspaper story concerning the lynching of Ligon Scott.

Newspaper story concerning the lynching of Ligon Scott.

By Frederick H. Lowe

The Equal Justice Initiative last week released the report “Lynching in America: Confronting The Legacy of Racial Terror,” which listed 12 Southern states whose white residents were most active in the lynching and burning of African-American men, women and children in order to restore and retain white supremacy following Reconstruction.

From 1877 to 1950, 3,595 African Americans were victims of terrorist lynchings, which constituted pure acts of violence and torture against either African Americans who were not accused of a crime or who had challenged white people’s authority. “White accusations against black people were rarely scrutinized seriously,” the report stated. “Of the hundreds of black people lynched under accusation of rape and murder, nearly all were killed without being legally convicted.” published the story in last week’s issue.

President Theodore Roosevelt declared that “the greatest existing cause of lynching is the perpetration, especially by black men, is the hideous crime of rape.”

At one time, Roosevelt relied on African-American men to burnish his heroic image before turning against them.

On July 1,1898, Roosevelt won the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War, near Santiago, Cuba, a charge led by members of the all African-American 10th Cavalry Division, known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Most newspaper reports at the time, ignored the role of the 10th Cavalry.

The lynchings of black men took torture and brutality to an unheard of level. On December 2, 1917 in  Dyersburg, Tennessee, a mob tortured Ligon Scott with a hot poker iron, gouging out his eyes, shoving the hot poker down his throat and pressing it all over his body before casting him into and burning him alive over a slow fire, the report said. Scott, a preacher, was charged with attacking a white woman who employed him.

White children left Sunday school early to watch Scott’s murder.

Between 1877 and 1950, Tennessee residents lynched 225 African Americans, placing the state below Alabama but above South Carolina in the number of lynchings. The other states in order of lynchings were:

  1.    Georgia——-586
  2.    Mississippi—-576
  3.    Louisiana—–540
  4.    Arkansas——503
  5.    Texas———-376
  6.    Florida——–331
  7.    Alabama——326
  8.    South Carolina—–164
  9.    Kentucky————154

10. North Carolina—–102


Source: Equal Justice Initiative

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