More than 2.
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These s are not faceless. African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are all more likely to be arrested, jailed awaiting trial, and sentenced to jail or prison when compared to white Americans. Perhaps the starkest statistic, recent data predicted one of every three black boys, and one of six Latino boys, born in would go to jail or prison within their lifetimes if current trends continue.
In some ways, these african american male for older caucasin women outline a contemporary problem—but the challenges they describe are legacies of systems much older and deeper. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to the thousands of people killed in racist lynchings The experiences of African Americans murdered and terrorized by mob violence for generations between Emancipation and the struggle for civil rights, alongside the virtual inaction of local and federal law enforcement and lawmakers, lay the groundwork for the inequality and injustice we face today.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, 12 million African people were kidnapped, chained, and brought to the Americas after a torturous journey across the Atlantic Ocean. In the United States, the labor of enslaved black people fueled economic growth, while an ideology of white supremacy and racial difference was created to justify slavery as morally acceptable. Continued support for white supremacy and racial hierarchy meant that slavery in America did not end—it evolved.
The identities of many white Americans, especially in the South, were grounded in the belief that they were inherently superior to African Americans. In the first two years after the war, thousands of black people were murdered for asserting freedom or basic rights; cities like Memphis and New Orleans were sites of violent mob attacks on black communities.
Between anda wave of terror swept across the South, resulting in the deaths of thousands of African Americans—some killed merely for failing to obey a white person. Reese, 92 U. Cruikshank, 92 U. Soon, Northern politicians retreated from a commitment to protect black people and Reconstruction collapsed. Infederal troops were removed from the region and white Southerners used their regained power to bar black people from voting; legalize racial segregation; and create an exploitative economic system of sharecropping and tenant farming that would keep African Americans indentured and poor for generations.
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Lynching soon emerged as a primary tool to enforce racial hierarchy and oppression while terrorizing olver people into accepting abusive mistreatment and subordination. Federal, state, and local governments largely tolerated these womsn acts. These lynchings were also distinct from hangings and mob violence committed against white people because they were intended to terrorize entire black communities and enforce racial hierarchy. Unlike frontier justice in the West, racial terror lynchings generally took place in communities with functioning criminal courts—viewed as too good for African Americans.
Despite its lawlessness and terrifying unpredictability, lynching was sanctioned ror law enforcement and elected officials, and the perpetrators amrrican boldly and with impunity. Victims were sometimes publicly tortured for hours before their brutalized bodies were left out on display to traumatize other black people. Members of the mob frequently documented their atrocities by posing for photographs with a dangling, bloodied, or burnt corpse. Most of the more than 4, documented victims of racial terror lynching killed between and were killed in the 12 Southern states; Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana were among the deadliest.
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Several hundred additional victims were lynched in other regions, with the highest s in Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and West Virginia. Many more victims were undocumented and remain unknown.
This brutality continued into the twentieth century, and national leaders and mainstream media outlets quickly learned to use white supremacist views and pro-lynching rhetoric for political gain. In fact, fewer than 25 percent of documented African American lynching victims were accused of mwle assault and less than 30 percent were accused of murder. Because African Americans were pd guilty and dangerous, accusations lodged against them were rarely scrutinized; nearly all were lynched without an investigation, much less a trial.
Shortly after Reuben Sims was lynched for assaulting a white woman in Baldwin County, Alabama, inthe local sheriff admitted he was innocent but nonetheless refused to arrest any members of the lynch mob. When year-old Henry Smith was accused of killing a ajerican girl in Paris, Texas, inhe was quickly captured and condemned without trial or investigation.
On February 1, a mob of 10, people gathered from across the state to watch as Henry was paraded through town on a carnival float, forced onto a foot-high platform at the county fairgrounds, brutally tortured for nearly an hour, and then burned alive.
Dozens of black sugar cane workers were lynched in Thibodaux, Louisiana, in for striking to protest low wages. Inafter Calvin Mike cast a vote in Calhoun County, Georgia, a white mob attacked and burned his home, killing his elderly mother and his two young daughters, Emma and Lillie. Reverend T. Allen was lynched in Hernando, Mississippi, in for organizing local sharecroppers.
According to press coverage, Rev. Hundreds more black people were lynched on allegations of arson, robbery, non-sexual assault, and vagrancy. There are supposed to be no Negroes in Holmes County. He was said to be the only Negro in the county.
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Ina year-old black woman named Laura Wood was hanged with a plow chain in Barber, North Carolina, for allegedly stealing a ham. In a strictly maintained americaj caste system, white lives and white property held heightened value, while the lives of black people held little or none. Efforts to pass federal anti-lynching legislation repeatedly failed, caudasin due to concerted opposition by Southern elected officials.
Due to this federal inaction and local indifference, only 1 percent of lynchings committed after led to a criminal conviction. Facing the constant threat of attack, nearly 6 million black Olddr fled the South between and as traumatized refugees, abandoning homes, families, and work in hopes of escaping racial terror. Importantly, these lynchings were not isolated hate crimes committed by rogue vigilantes; they were targeted racial violence perpetrated to uphold an unjust social order.
Lynchings were terrorism.
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This violence left thousands dead; ificantly marginalized black people politically, financially, and socially; and inflicted deep trauma on the entire African American community. White people who witnessed, participated in, and socialized their children in a culture that tolerated gruesome lynchings also were psychologically damaged.
Jars containing soil from the sites of confirmed lynchings in the state of Alabama are displayed at the Equal Justice Initiative offices. Many lynchings occurred in communities where African Americans remain marginalized, disproportionately poor, overrepresented in prisons and jails, and underrepresented as decision-makers in the criminal justice system. Research demonstrates that implicit bias impacts policing—marking young men of color for disparately frequent stops, searches, and violence—and all aspects of the criminal justice system, leading to higher rates of childhood suspension, expulsion, and arrest at school; disproportionate contact with the juvenile justice system; harsher charging decisions and disadvantaged plea negotiations; a greater likelihood of being denied bail and diversion; an increased risk of wrongful convictions and unfair sentences; and higher rates of probation and parole revocation.
Lynchings were not isolated hate crimes committed by rogue vigilantes; they were targeted racial violence perpetrated to uphold an unjust social order. Perhaps the clearest intersection between the history of racial terror lynching and modern criminal law is seen in the death penalty.
As lynching attracted national and international condemnation after the s, capital punishment became a more acceptable means of achieving the same ends. Many defendants of the era learned cxucasin replacing a lynching with a death sentence did little to achieve a fair trial, a reliable conviction, or a just sentence. In Sumterville, Florida, inafter a black man named Henry Wilson was convicted of murder after a trial lasting just two hours and 40 minutes, the judge promised the mob of armed white men filling the courtroom that the ordered death sentence would be carried out by public hanging—though that violated state law.
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When the execution was set for a later date, the mob threatened vigilante action. Bycourt-ordered executions outpaced lynchings in the former slave states for the first time. More than 80 percent of documented lynchings africa America between and occurred in the South, and more than 80 percent of the nearly 1, legal executions carried out in this country since afrifan also been in the South. The bold and unpunished deaths of black men, women, and children deemed dangerous—like Trayvon Martin in Florida; Philando Castile in Minnesota; Tamir Rice and Samuel DuBose in Ohio; Alton Sterling in Louisiana; Sandra Bland in Texas; Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland; and many, many more—continue to demonstrate the fatal consequences of a racialized presumption of guilt permitted to fester o,der more than a century.
The trauma borne by Anthony Ray Hinton and countless more men and women condemned to death only to be exonerated many years later reveals the arrogance of a judicial system built on a history of injustice but still confident in african american male for older caucasin women ability to fairly and justly judge who should live and who should die.
Chattel slavery in the United States required manufacturing a myth of racial difference to justify the brutal practice of buying and selling African men, women, and children as property. The inhumanity of slavery was largely intolerable oldfr there was a narrative that enslaved people were not really people. The military battles and legal developments that led to the abolition of slavery did nothing to undo that project mzle dehumanization, and those same ideas survived americab justify racial terror lynching through the criminalization of black identity.
The impact of American mass incarceration is felt far beyond the black community, but the black community and its history illustrate the roots of this crisis—and potentially a path out. After nearly 30 years advocating on behalf of the condemned and incarcerated in the Deep South, we at the Equal Justice Initiative believe that telling the truth of the slave trade, racial terror lynching, Jim Crow segregation, and mass incarceration africxn free us from the division and conflict that have grown out of centuries of euphemism and avoidance.
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We believe that bravely committing to this effort can set our community on the path to the honest caucasjn that will uproot and expose these poisons, and that this work cannot be relegated to the courtroom. Together, these spaces challenge each one of us to confront a difficult history and commit to creating a more just and peaceful future. We encourage and welcome all to visit. Anti-lynching crusader Ida B. ABA Resources.