Black History: Special Delivery!!
Note: This blog post may contain images that may be disturbing. At the very end of the blog post a picture depicting a lynching is displayed.
Many of us, (unfortunately) are likely familiar with the history of lynching of blacks in America. However, some may not realize that these heinous acts were often photographed, and, the photos widely sold and circulated in the form of postcards. At the time, many did not see the postcards as depictions of a terrible crimes, but rather, as the commemoration of an act of justice. Lynching laws had made these acts of murder “permissible”. The term lynching did not always mean “hanging”; but, this method became a very common way to murder blacks and maintain white supremacy. Between 1882 and 1968, 4,738 lynchings were reported by newspaper outlets.
A lynching was viewed as being a “community/social” event. It was not unusual for a lynching to draw hundreds of people including small children. It would also normally attract photographers as well. These photographers would produce photo postcards of a lynching and sell them as souvenirs. In 1912, Congress officially passed a law to prohibit postcards depicting lynching from being mailed. But it would not pass a law to prevent lynching. It would not be until 1946 that someone would be convicted for lynching.
Below is a picture of a postcard of a lynching sent by the Klu Klux Klan to Rev. John Haynes Holmes, one the founding members of the NAACP. It was sent to intimidate him. The postcard message, indicates that Holmes would be “added” to the mailing list and that he could expect to receive a post card “about once a month”. W.E.B. DuBois published the postcard in the NAACP magazine, “The Crisis” in 1912 along with the photographs of many other lynchings. “The Crisis” was very outspoken in advocating against lynching and wanted to publicize it to advocate for it being stopped.
It is sad and sickening to think about the thousands of men and women who lost their lives as victims of lynchings.