Racial Violence and the Politics of the Color Line
Plessy v Ferguson –Supreme Court Justices, 1896 Establishes the “Separate but Equal” doctrine. Challenged the Separate Car Act of 1890 which imposed a, “…fine of $25 or Twenty days in Jail” for violation of its mandate.
Homer Plessy , 1863 – 1925 “ Octoroon” : 7/8 White; 1/8 Black … the Citizens' Committee of New Orleans (Comité des Citoyens) recruited Plessy to violate Louisiana's 1890 separate-car law. To pose a clear test, the Citizens' Committee gave advance notice of Plessy's intent to the railroad, which had opposed the law because it required adding more cars to its trains On June 7, 1892, Plessy bought a first-class ticket for the commuter train that ran to Covington, sat down in the car for white riders only and the conductor asked whether he was a colored man, Medley said. The committee also hired a private detective with arrest powers to take Plessy off the train at Press and Royal streets, to ensure that he was charged with violating the state's separate-car law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer_Plessy
Justice John Marshall Harlan Delivers lone dissenting opinion “ I am of opinion that the statute of Louisiana is inconsistent with the personal liberty of citizens, white and black, in that State, and hostile to both the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States. If laws of like character should be enacted in the several States of the Union, the effect would be in the highest degree mischievous. Slavery, as an institution tolerated by law would, it is true, have disappeared from our country, but there would remain a power in the States, by sinister legislation, to interfere with the full enjoyment of the blessings of freedom to regulate civil rights, common to all citizens, upon the basis of race, and to place in a condition of legal inferiority a large body of American citizens now constituting a part of the political community called the [163 U.S. 564] People of the United States, for whom and by whom, through representatives, our government is administered.”
13 th Amendment The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
<ul><li>14 th Amendment </li></ul><ul><li>The amendment provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) which had excluded slaves and their descendants from possessing Constitutional rights. The amendment requires states to provide equal protection under the law to all people within their jurisdictions and was used in the mid-20th century to dismantle racial segregation in the United States, as in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Its Due Process Clause has been used to apply most of the Bill of Rights to the states. </li></ul>
The Great Migration <ul><li>From the end of the Civil War to the turn of the century, roughly 91% of African Americans live in South. </li></ul><ul><li>Between 1915 and 1920, five years, between 500,000 and </li></ul><ul><li>1, 000,000 blacks leave rural south for urban North. </li></ul><ul><li>Between 1915 and 1970 over Six Million migrate north. </li></ul><ul><li>Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., experience biggest gains. </li></ul>
Lecture: Hubert Harrison Clip: International Workers of the World Clip 2: IWW Clip: The Communist Manifesto
The White League The “Military Arm” of the Democratic Party Founded in 1874 Operated openly, not a “secret society” Responsible for the “Coushatta Massacre” of 1874.
The Knights of the White Camelia Formed in 1867 Affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan An underground organization Composed of elite, wealthy members of the Democratic Party: physicians, newspaper editors, doctors, and officers of the “peace.”
Mississippi Klansmen arrested by federal authorities in 1871 for the attempted murder of an entire family.
Minneapolis, 1882 Like most of the Slides that follow in this presentation, the above image is taken from the exhibition Without sanctuary ─ a collection of lynching postcards from the late 19th and early 20th century. Although there were no prosecutions for these crimes, the postcards were sent through the United States Postal Service.
Stereograph of the burnt and partially skinned corpses of Ami "Whit" Ketchum and Luther H. Mitchell. December 10, 1878, Calloway, Custer County, Nebraska.
Front Back George Meadows, his body hanging from a hardwood tree. January 15, 1889, Pratt Mines, Alabama
Postcard of Lynching scene -- Clanton, Alabama, 1891. Think about the power of the gaze and the act of witnessing. Lynching was often a performance of power and place. A spectacle. Who is behind the camera? Notice the age, gender and class of the “audience.”
Ida B. Wells <ul><li>1862, born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Educator, Activist, Writer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1878, begins teaching </li></ul><ul><li>1889, buys 1/3 interest in the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. Later becomes editor </li></ul><ul><li>1890s, founding member of the: National Black Women’s Club Movement </li></ul><ul><li>1892, begins four decade campaign against Lynching. </li></ul><ul><li>1909, one of original founders of NAACP </li></ul><ul><li>1910, catalyzes the founding of the: </li></ul><ul><li>Negro Fellowship League, designed to help black migrant workers in Chicago with Housing, recreation, literacy and employment. </li></ul>
Four photographs of the lynching of an unidentified African American male in a coastal Georgia swamp. 1902
The corpses of five African American males, Nease Gillepsie, John Gillepsie, "Jack" Dillingham, Henry Lee, and George Irwin with onlookers. August 6, 1906. Salisbury, North Carolina.
The lynching of Dick Robinson and a man named Thompson. October 6, 1906, Pritchard Station, Alabama.
The Springfield Race Riot of 1908 was a mass civil disturbance in Springfield, Illinois, USA sparked by the transfer of two African American prisoners out of the city jail by the county sheriff. This act enraged many white citizens, who responded by burning black-owned homes and businesses and killing black citizens. By the end of the riot, there were at least seven deaths and $200,000 in property damage. The riot led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
A residential black neighborhood was burned to the ground in Springfield, Ill., during race riots in 1908 that required 4,000 state militiamen to quell. Many white residents of the city still object to commemorating past race riots.
destroyed black businesses, Springfield, Illinois, 1908
The lynching of Will James. Lynching as public SPECTACLE. Commercial Avenue jammed with spectators below the electrically lit Hustler's Arch. November 11, 1909, Cairo, Illinois. Although lynching is often thought of as a crime against individuals, they violence impacted entire communities, both black and white.
Allen Brooks hanging from Elk's Arch, surrounded by spectators. Printed inscription on border, "LYNCHING SCENE, DALLAS, MARCH 3, 1910". Penciled inscription on border: "All OK and would like to get a post from you. Bill, This was some Raw Bunch."
Joseph Richardson, damaged shoeshine stand. September 26, 1913 Leitchfield Kentucky
Lynching of Jesse Washington, Waco, Texas, 1916 “ This is the barbecue we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe [Myers].” ← 10 cent Postcard
WEB Dubois “… being a problem is a strange experience – peculiar even for one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in babyhood and in Europe. It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the revelation first burst upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remember well when the shadow swept across me. I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards – ten cents a package – and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, -- refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil.” Souls of Black Folk, 1903
Race Riots of 1917 <ul><li>East St. Louis, July 2, 1917 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Officially 40 but as many as 200 blacks killed and 6,000 burned out of their homes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grew out of a labor dispute. Thousands of blacks had poured into St. Louis to work for the Aluminum Ore Company who used them to undermine the power of white labor unions. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Houston Texas, August 23, 1917 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>24 th infantry battalion riot killing 17 whites, 50 sentenced to life in prison and 19 hanged or shot for mutiny. </li></ul></ul>
WEB Dubois <ul><li>Born February 23, 1868 – Six years after Emancipation in Great Barrington, MASS. </li></ul><ul><li>1903 Publishes, Souls of Black Folk </li></ul><ul><li>1905 - 1909, Founder and General Secretary of: The Niagara Movement </li></ul><ul><li>1909, One of original founders and incorporators of: </li></ul><ul><li>The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) </li></ul><ul><li>1912, Supports Woodrow Wilson. Encourages blacks to leave the Republican Party. </li></ul><ul><li>1915, NAACP organizes national protests against Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. </li></ul><ul><li>1919, General Secretary of: </li></ul><ul><li>The First Pan African Congress in England </li></ul>
<ul><li>Created the first, modern platform for civil rights. </li></ul><ul><li>Cleared the way and charted a course for the NAACP in 1909. </li></ul><ul><li>Marked W.E.B. Du Bois' first attempt at civil rights organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Rejected Booker T. Washington as the spokesman for African Americans. </li></ul>Niagara Movement
Web Dubois, famous quotes “ It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” “One ever feels his two-ness-an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two un-reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” “ The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.”
NAACP Organizes Silent protest. Some 10,000 black citizens March down 5 th Avenue, NYC, July 28, 1917
DOUBLE V and World War One (Victory abroad, Victory at home) "That which the German power represents today spells death to the aspirations of Negroes and all darker races for equality, freedom and democracy. Let us not hesitate. Let us, while this war lasts, forget our special grievances and close our ranks shoulder to shoulder with our own white fellow citizens and the allied nations that are fighting for democracy. We make no ordinary sacrifice, but we make it gladly and willingly with our eyes lifted to the hills." WEB Dubois: from “Close Ranks,” editorial in The Crisis July 1918
“ this is Our Country —we have worked for it, we have suffered for it, we have fought for it; we have made its music , we have tinged its ideals, its poetry, its religion, its dreams; we have reached in this land our highest modern development and nothing, humanly speaking, can prevent us from eventually reaching here the full stature of our manhood . Our country is at war. The war is critical, dangerous and world-wide. If this is our country, then this is our war. We must fight it with every ounce of blood and treasure .... But what of our wrongs, cry a million voices with strained faces and bitter eyes. Our wrongs are still wrong. War does not excuse disfranchisement , "Jim Crow" cars and social injustices, but it does make our first duty clear. It does say deep to the heart of every Negro American—we will not bargain with our loyalty. We will not profiteer with our country's blood. . . .” WEB Dubois: editorial in The Crisis August 1918
Lynching and Race Riots <ul><li>“ From June through December, 1919, seventy </li></ul><ul><li>six blacks were lynched…It [the United States] </li></ul><ul><li>lynches ... it disfranchises its own citizens ... it </li></ul><ul><li>encourages ignorances ... it insults us. . . . We </li></ul><ul><li>return. We return from fighting. We return </li></ul><ul><li>fighting. Make way for Democracy! We saved </li></ul><ul><li>it in France, and by the Great Jehovah, we will </li></ul><ul><li>save it in the U.S.A., or know the reason why.” </li></ul><ul><li>WEB Dubois, The Crisis , 1919 </li></ul>Offices of the NAACP, NYC
Red Summer, 1919 and the Red Scare… <ul><li>Chicago Riot July 27 – August 2 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>38 killed, 537 injured, 1,000 homes destroyed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Elaine, Arkansas Riot September 30 – October 1 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Perhaps 250 killed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In all, 26 major riots including: </li></ul><ul><li>Washington, D.C. </li></ul><ul><li>Charleston, South Carolina </li></ul><ul><li>Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee </li></ul><ul><li>Omaha, Nebraska </li></ul><ul><li>Longview, Texas </li></ul>
Stoning death of a black man -- Chicago Race Riots, 1919
Police rescue a black man from lynch mob, Chicago, 1919
Omaha, Nebraska, 1919 William Brown. September 28, 1919 This photograph was acquired from a Lincoln, Nebraska, man whose grandfather purchased it for two dollars as a souvenir while visiting Omaha in 1919.
<ul><li>The bill would have made lynching a federal felony, allowing the United States to prosecute cases. States had been notoriously reluctant to pursue prosecution in most lynchings. The bill prescribed punishments for perpetrators, specifically: </li></ul><ul><li>A maximum of 5 years in prison, $5000 fine, or both, for any state or city official who had the power to protect a person in his jurisdiction but failed to do so or who had the power to prosecute those responsible and failed to do so. </li></ul><ul><li>A minimum of 5 years in prison for anyone who participated in a lynching, whether they were an ordinary citizen or the official responsible for keeping the victim safe. </li></ul><ul><li>$10,000 fine to be paid by the county in which the lynching took place, to be turned over to the victim’s family. If the victim was seized in one county and killed in another, both counties were to be fined. </li></ul><ul><li>On June 13, 2005 , in an unprecedented resolution, the Senate formally apologized for its failure to enact this and other anti-lynching bills. </li></ul>
March on Washington, D.C., for passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching bill, 1921
The lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, a large gathering of lynchers. August 7, 1930, Marion, Indiana. "Bo pointn to his niga." On the yellowed outer matte: "klan 4th Joplin, Mo. 33."