DEFINITION:Lynching is an execution carried out by a mob, often byhanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting.Lynching is used in order to punish an allegedtransgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwisemanipulate a population of people.
DATES:Lynchings took place most frequently in the SouthernUnited States starting from 1890 to the 1920s.After the Civil War, lynching became particularlyassociated with the South, and with the first Ku KluxKlan which was founded in 1866.The anti-lynching campaign sought tofight lynching through educationor legal action.
FACTS:● At the turn of the 20th century, at least 100 lynching‘s were being reportedeach year. In 1892, a record of 230 were lynched: 160 of them were black.● Out of the 4743 people who were lynched, only 1297 of them were white.Many of the whites were lynched for helping the black, being anti-lynching oreven for domestic crimes.● Lynching took place most frequently in the Southern United States.● Lynching took place between 1882 and 1968.● Most of the lynching was donebetween 1882 and 1920. Emmett Till (Before & after his murder)
STRANGE FRUIT:A song that refers to lynching is the Billie Holiday song‘Strange Fruit’ written by Abel Meeropol in 1939.“Southern trees bear strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the roots. Blackbodies swinging in the southern breeze, strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.Pastoral scene of the gallant south, the bulging eyes and the twisted mouth. Scent ofmagnolias, sweet and fresh. Then the sudden smell of burning flesh. Here is fruit for thecrows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for thetrees to drop, here is a strange and bitter crop.”The disturbing lyrics were rejected byHolidays label, but she recorded itindependently; the song became ananthem for the anti-lynching movementwhich joined the American civil rightsmovement.
The lynching of Emmett Till•Emmett Till (July 25, 1941 – August28, 1955) was an African-Americanboy who was murdered in Mississippiat the age of 14 after reportedlyflirting with a white women.•Till was from Chicago, Illinois, visitinghis relatives in the Mississippi Deltaarea when he spoke to 21 year oldCarloyn Bryant.•Several nights later Carolyn Bryant’shusband Roy and his half-brother J.W.Milam arrived at Till’s great-uncle’shouse and took Till.
The encounter between Carolyn Bryant and Emmett Till•After skipping church with his cousin, Emmettand some local boys went to Bryant’s Grocery tobuy candy, the boys he was with had beenpicking cotton all day. Emmett was braggingthat he had a white girlfriend back home so theboys dared him to speak to Carolyn.•There are several different versions describingwhat happened, he may have wolf-whistled atCarolyn. However a newspaper article said thatTill whistled to alleviate his stuttering.•Carolyn Bryant claimed that Till had grabbedher waist and asked her for a date. Whatever theevent, Bryant ran to her car to get her pistol, aman told the boys to quickly leave after hearingwhat happened. Till quickly told his relativesthat he wanted to return to Chicago. Carolynshusband Roy Bryant was on a trip haulingshrimp to Texas and did not return until August27th.
The Murder•When Roy Bryant was told of what had happened, he began byaggressively questioned young black men who entered the store.•Later that evening Bryant along with a black man called J. W.Washington approached a young black man and took him to beidentified by a grocery worker who saw the event, the boy knew ofTill and said he was from Chicago.•Between 2:00 am and 3:30 am on Sunday, August 28, 1955, Bryantand his half brother John Milam went to a house and found Till.They put him in the back of a pick-up truck and drove to a barn inDrew.
• He was beaten in Drew and then taken to Milam’s shed, people walking past Milam’s shed said they could hear somebody being beaten. Till was eventually shot and his body dumped in the Tallahatchie River.• In Look magazine in 1956, Bryant and Milam stated they had no intention of killing Till, they just wanted to beat him and throw him into the river to frighten him, but Till called them bastards and this encouraged them to shoot him.• His body was found three days later by boys fishing, his face was badly damaged, he had been shot above the ear, an eye was dislodged, and his neck had been weighted and tied with barbed wire.
Reaction•Till’s murder raised issues about segregation, law enforcement,relations between the North and South, the social status quo inMississippi, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancementof Coloured People), White Citizens’ Council and the Cold War.•Many Mississippi newspapers reported the death, one said "Nowis the time for every citizen who loves the state of Mississippi toStand up and be counted before hoodlum white trash brings us todestruction.”, the article said it wasn’t negroes who were not thedownfall of Mississippi but the whites, like the violent radicals inthe White Citizens’ Councils.•Mississippi’s governor, Hugh L. White promised a "vigorousprosecution". Leflore County Deputy Sheriff John Cothran stated,"The white people around here feel pretty mad about the way thatpoor little boy was treated, and they wont stand for this.“. TheWhite Citizens’ council responded by saying racial segregationpolicies were in force for blacks’ safety.
• News of the death eventually spread to Chicago, as soon as this happened the attitude of Mississippi journalists changed dramatically, they started rumours of blacks and whites from the North coming to the South to protest. The NAACP executive Roy Wilkins said the murder was a lynching and accused Bryant and Milam that they carried out the murder to maintain white supremacy in Mississippi. After Wilkin’s comments, white opinions began to shift in Mississippi and they started to reject the opinions of the North, according to the former sheriff, the people of Tallahatchie had an independence and they do “what they damn well please”.• The current sheriff Clarence Strider, who was initially positive about the case against Bryant, started to question whether the body was actually Till’s, he even began to speculate the body had been planted by the NAACP, he later said "The last thing I wanted to do was to defend those peckerwoods. But I just had no choice about it.”
Influence on Civil Rights•Till’s case became a symbol of blackjustice in Southern America. The ChicagoDefender in 1955 prompted their readersto react to the case by voting in largenumbers.•The NAACP asked Mamie Till Bradley totour the country relating the events ofher son’s death to the trial of hismurderers, it was the NAACP’s mostsuccessful tour ever.•In Montgomery, Rosa Parks refused togive up her seat to a white bus rider,which caused the boycott of the publicbus system. Parks later said that ‘Shethought of Emmett Till and I just couldntgo back.”
John Milam – Look Magazine, 1956‘Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless. Im no bully; Inever hurt a nigger in my life. I like niggers—in their place—Iknow how to work em. But I just decided it was time a fewpeople got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anythingabout it, niggers are gonna stay in their place. Niggers aintgonna vote where I live. If they did, theyd control thegovernment. They aint gonna go to school with my kids. Andwhen a nigger gets close to mentioning sex with a whitewoman, hes tired o livin. Im likely to kill him. Me and myfolks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stoodthere in that shed and listened to that nigger throw thatpoison at me, and I just made up my mind. Chicago boy, I said,Im tired of em sending your kind down here to stir uptrouble. Goddam you, Im going to make an example of you—just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.