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blackpast.org(1909) Ida B. Wells, "Lynching, Our National Crime" •(1909) Ida B. Wells, "Lynching, Our National Crime" •https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/1909-ida-b-wells-awful-slaughter/[7/26/2020 3:21:52 PM](1909) IDA B. WELLS, “LYNCHING, OURNATIONAL CRIME”SEPTEMBER 22, 2008 / CONTRIBUTED BY: BLACKPASTIda B. Wells-Barnett, c. 1893Photo by Mary Garrity☰ MENU SEARCH☰Enter keyword…(1909) Ida B. Wells, "Lynching, Our National Crime" •https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/1909-ida-b-wells-awful-slaughter/[7/26/2020 3:21:52 PM]By 1909 Ida B. Wells was the most prominent anti-lynching campaigner in the United States. Fromthe early 1890s she labored mostly alone in her effort to raise the nation’s awareness andindignation about these usually unpunished murders. In 1909, however, she gained a powerful allyin the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Thefollowing speech was delivered by Wells at the National Negro Conference, the forerunner to theNAACP, in New York City on May 31-June 1, 1909. The lynching record for a quarter of a century merits the thoughtful study of the American people. Itpresents three salient facts: First, lynching is color-line murder. Second, crimes against women is theexcuse, not the cause. Third, it is a national crime and requires a national remedy. Proof that lynchingfollows the color line is to be found in the statistics which have been kept for the past twenty-fiveyears. During the few years preceding this period and while frontier law existed, the executionsshowed a majority of white victims. Later, however, as law courts and authorized judiciary extendedinto the far West, lynch law rapidly abated, and its white victims became few and far between. Just asthe lynch-law regime came to a close in the West, a new mob movement started in the South.This was wholly political, its purpose being to suppress the colored vote by intimidation and murder.Thousands of assassins banded together under the name of Ku Klux Klans, “Midnight Raiders,”“Knights of the Golden Circle,” et cetera, et cetera, spread a reign of terror, by beating, shooting andkilling colored in a few years, the purpose was accomplished, and the black vote was supressed. Butmob murder continued. From 1882, in which year fifty-two were lynched, down to the present,lynching has been along the color line. Mob murder increased yearly until in 1892 more than twohundred victims were lynched and statistics show tht 3,284 men, women and children have been putto death in this quarter of a century. During the last ten years from 1899 to 1908 inclusive the numberlynched was 959. Of this number 102 were white, while the colored victims numbered 857. No othernation, civilized or savage, burns its criminals; only under that Stars and Stripes is the humanholocaust possible. Twenty-eight human beings burned at the stake, one of them a woman and two ofthem children, is the awful indictment against American civilization—the gruesome tribute which thenation pays to the color line.Why is mob murder permitted by a Christian nation? What is the cause of this awful slaughter? Thisquestion is answered almost daily— always the same shameless falsehood that “Negroes are lynchedto protect womanhood.” Standing before a Chautauqua assemblage, John Temple Graves, at once(1909) Ida B. Wells, "Lynching, Our National Crime" •https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/1909-ida-b-wells-awful-slaughter/[7/26/2020 3:21:52 PM]champion of lynching and apologist for lynchers, said: “The mob stands today as the most potentialbulwark between the women of the South and such a carnival of crime as would infuriate the worldand precipitate the annihilation of the Negro race.” This is the never-varying answer of lynchers andtheir apologists. All know that it is untrue. The cowardly lyncher revels in murder, then seeks to shieldhimself from public execration by claiming devotion to woman. But truth is mighty and the lynchingrecord disc1oses the hypocrisy of the lyncher as well as his crime.The Springfield, Illinois, mob rioted for two days, the militia of the entire state was called out, twomen were lynched, hundreds of people driven from their homes, all because a white woman said aNegro assaulted her. A mad mob went to the jail, tried to lynch the victim of her charge and, not beingable to find him, proceeded to pillage and burn the town and to lynch two innocent men. Later, afterthe police had found that the woman’s charge was false, she published a retraction, the indictmentwas dismissed and the intended victim discharged. But the lynched victims were dead. Hundredswere homeless and Illinois was disgraced.As a final and complete refutation of the charge that lynching is occasioned by crimes against women,a partial record of lynchings is cited; 285 persons were lynched for causes as follows: Unknown cause,92; no cause, 10; race prejudice, 49; miscegenation, 7; informing, 12; making threats, 11; keepingsaloon, 3; practicing fraud, 5; practicing voodooism, 1; refusing evidence, 2; political causes, 5;disputing, 1; disobeying quarantine regulations, 2; slapping a child, 1; turning state’s evidence, 3;protecting a Negro, 1; to prevent giving evidence, 1; knowledge of larceny, 1; writing letter to whitewoman, 1; asking white woman to marry; 1; jilting girl, 1; having smallpox, 1; concealing criminal, 2;threatening political exposure, 1; self- defense, 6; cruelty; 1; insulting language to woman, 5;quarreling with white man, 2; colonizing Negroes, 1; throwing stones, 1; quarreling, 1; gambling, 1.Is there a remedy, or will the nation confess that it cannot protect its protectors at home as well asabroad? Various remedies have been suggested to abolish the lynching infamy, but year after year, thebutchery of men, women and children continues in spite of plea and protest. Education is suggestedas a preventive, but it is as grave a crime to murder an ignorant man as it is a scholar. True, feweducated men have been lynched, but the hue and cry once started stops at no bounds, as was clearlyshown by the lynchings in Atlanta, and in Springfield, Illinois.Agitation, though helpful, will not alone stop the crime. Year after year statistics are published,meetings are held, resolutions are adopted and yet lynchings go on. Public sentiment does(1909) Ida B. Wells, "Lynching, Our National Crime"

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UB SOC 101 - Lynching, Our National Crime

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