The History of Lynching and Racial Terror

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February 10, 2015 9:32 a.m.

I want to flag your attention to a new study that has just been released by the Equal Justice Initiative which appears to be the most comprehensive examination to date of the history of lynchings of African-Americans in the South between 1877 and 1950, which the report correctly defines as ‘terror lynchings.’

The study found a total of 3959 lynchings over that period, at least 700 more than earlier studies had identified. The report limits itself to those cases for which there was no subsequent prosecution of the offender. Obviously, during that era, such prosecutions were rare. But they did occur. And those are not counted. The study limits itself to those acts committed openly and with impunity, with at least tacit acceptance of public authorities. The study also looks more directly at the role of terror lynchings as the underpinning of white supremacist rule in the post-Confederate states and their role in driving the mass migration of African-Americans from the South into the restricted ghettos of the North in the early years of the 20th century.

Some of the findings of the study I’ve reprinted below …

Also notable is the high concentrations of lynchings in particular counties …

Read the beginning of the article here on the open public spectacle of the public burning of John Hartfield and the quotes from the then Governor Theodore Bilbo.

Here is the full summary of the report. And here is the accompanying press release.

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