Published in 1895, by journalist and activist, Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931), “A Red Record” was a pamphlet designed to recount America’s history of lynching African Americans. The term “lynching” dates back to the late 1700’s. The term was named after a frontier judge named Charles Lynch. Lynch was known for quickly dispensing of jury trials, preferring instead to use hangings as a way to quickly mete out justice. Thus, the hangings, came to be known as lynchings. Lynching is really an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of ways that someone could be put to death. Ida B. Wells Barnett made it her life’s work to speak out against this unjust practice. She was a skilled orator and journalist. “A Red Record” served as another way in which she could fight against the unjust practice of lynching.
James Weldon Johnson, was the first to call the race riots that occurred during the summer of 1919, “Red Summer”. During this time, race riots broke out across the country due to the growing animosity and tension between blacks and whites. Riots broke out in Arkansas, Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Washington, DC, Illinois, and Nebraska. One of the most violent of these riots occurred in Chicago, IL. Riots occurred in over three dozen cities. The riot was started when a black teen, floated onto a white beach. The teen was violently attacked. From there, the beatings spilled over into white neighborhoods; with blacks passing through these neighborhoods being attacked. Chicago police did not intervene to stop the attacks. Blacks then responded by attacking whites that entered their neighborhoods. It would eventually take a rain storm and the Illinois National Guard to regain order after 5 days. It would be in Chicago, Washington, DC and Elaine, AK that the largest number of deaths occurred. Continue reading “Red Summer Race Riots of 1919”→
A Joe’s Crab Shack location in Minnesota is in hot water. On March 10, 2016, Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen visited the Joe’s Crab Shack in Roseville, MN. When seated, they noticed a picture of what appeared to be a lynching. The photo displayed a large group of whites at the public hanging of a black man. The picture was captioned, “Hanging At Groesbeck, TX on April 12, 1895”. Added to the photo was a speech bubble near the executioner’s stand, “All I said was, I don’t like the gumbo”
Restaurant management apologized for the photo and offered the patrons a free meal which they refused. The man depicted in the photo was Richard Burleson who was convicted of killing a man with a rock in 1894. The horrific legacy of lynching in the U.S. is well documented. It was not at all unusual for blacks to be accused of trumped up charges and not given due legal process. The patrons and the NAACP demanded a public apology and the removal of the table. They also demanded that the franchise owner, Ignite Restaurant Group make a donation to the local NAACP. It is unknown if the picture was present in other Joe’s Crab Shack locations. It is not clear if the picture appears at other locations of the Texas-based restaurant.
Some of our Black Mail readers may remember our previous Black Mail post about photographs from lynchings being sold as postcards. In 2016, it seems that there are some who are still finding ways to profit off the murder and mistreatment of African Americans. Even more surprising is that the offensive nature of the “décor” could would not have been questioned before making it all the way into the view of the general public.
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.