A Brookhaven, Mississippi, lynching


When I was a teenager, my father told me about a lynching that occurred when he was an adolescent during which two black youths were dragged to death behind cars. I remember the very spot on the street where he told me this (it was about a block from the above sign), and I still associate that spot with the blood, flesh, and screams of dying kids. This week, I decided to find out what I could about the crime. I didn’t know the year, and I could find no single authoritative source for lynching history, so it took me awhile to sort through a dozen or more sites before I found the boys’ names—James and Stanley Bearden—and the date they were killed—June 29, 1928. I also discovered a 1989 oral history in which the lynching was discussed.* The interviewee was a white man named Sam Jones whose father was mayor in 1928 when the murders occurred. His interviewers were Bob and Betsy Jones. I have no idea how—or if—the three were related. I just know that Jones’ Meat Market was a prominent family-run business when I was a kid. I delivered the local newspaper to the store and was always treated with great kindness by a woman whose name I remember as Betsy Jones. Here is a partial text of the Sam Jones’ interview:

Bob Jones: In 1928 you recall there was a double lynching in Brookhaven of two blacks who had gotten into an altercation with K.B. [?] Burns and his brother and had shot and wounded K.B. Burns and the two blacks were arrested and put in the jail and very quickly the word spread about the problem and an angry mob assembled around the jail from the county and from nearby counties. Quite an angry crowd had assembled within a few hours after they had been put in jail. I believe you told me once you were working in Brookhaven at that time; you were off from school, or something…

Sam Jones: It was the summer time and I was working at Hobbs Drug Store at my usual job as Soda Jerk and I went over to the courthouse to see the crowd, but I didn’t stay to see the lynching and all that happened. But the sheriff had not done anything to try to quiet the mob and my father told him, “You’ve got to call the governor. If you don’t call the governor and ask him for the National Guard to come down here I’m just going to beat the hell out of you.” And those were his words, and he never said anything like that. But it was too late. The sheriff called the governor and they were going to send help but it didn’t get there in time. But my father was the only man in Brookhaven, the only decent man in Brookhaven who was there. He got up and tried to quiet the crowd, but they would have nothing to do with him, they just pushed him out of the way and they got the men out of jail, did all those horrible things, I don’t need to go into what they did.

Bob Jones: Somebody later saw you at the store and made some remark…

Sam Jones:   Oh yes, a dentist. He just came in just laughing, what was going on over there, and said, “Son, that mob just pushed your dad out of the way like nothing. It really made me mad.” I said something I shouldn’t have said, it was out of character for me at that time because I was just about 17 years old, he was an old man and at that time you treated old men with respect. But I never had any respect for him after that.

Bob Jones: He was a dentist?

Sam Jones: Yes…[break] They dragged them, tied them behind a car and dragged them. [break] These were kids; they were always picking on them, the white men. At this time something was said, I don’t know what they said to him but he got angry, he shot K.B. The other man was innocent. He was just in jail for some other reason. But the mob took him too.

Bob Jones: I didn’t know that, I thought there were two of them had been involved…

Sam Jones: No, only the one Negro boy. But you know the streets of Brookhaven were absolutely empty of anybody. Everybody went home, didn’t want to get involved in anything.

[female]: You mean after it was all over?

Sam Jones: No, before it was over.

Bob Jones: Except for the mob.

Sam Jones: Yes, the mob. Yes.

Betsy Jones: Were the stores all closed? Nobody tried to stop them, is what you’re saying.

Sam Jones: Nobody except my father tried to do anything.

[male]: Did anybody get into trouble eventually?

Sam Jones: My father was mayor at that time, too. And was still mayor. He got a lot of hate letters from all over the county. Anonymous letters, most of them were anonymous letters.

[female]: I thought the lynching; because of the lynching…

Bob Jones: He caught it from both sides.

Sam Jones: Yes.


[The End]



Reading this probably had a stronger effect on me than you might imagine because you didn’t grow up with the people who lived through those violent times. You might envision them as frothing beasts who went through life doing one hateful thing after another, but I knew them as my kindly elders. I would at least hope that most people had opposed lynching, but they knew what lynchers were capable of, so they had to choose between putting themselves and their families at risk or keeping quiet, and they kept quiet. I very much wish they had done differently, but I don't even know what I would have done. I just know that if I had kept quiet, I would have hated myself for my cowardice.

*http://www.llf.lib.ms.us/LLF/Oral%20Histories/SJones.htm

26 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

It would have been so hard to know what to do. And it sounds as if standing up and opposing that action was potentially dangerous.
I think that I too would have hated myself if I had done nothing.

Snowbrush said...

I grew-up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era, and any white Southerner who supported civil rights was seen as a traitor to his or her people and was made to suffer accordingly, so, yes, for anyone to speak out against lynching would have surely put him and his family in physical danger. The people in these mobs were not only murderers, they were sadists, so to oppose them would have been in the direction of a modern-day Middle Easterner opposing the Islamic State.

Stephen Hayes said...

We all like to assume we'd do the right thing when tested, but we can't really know until the moment arrives. This was a terrible tragedy and a black mark on the soul of our nation.

angela said...

I too would like to think I would do the right thing. But I fear for the safety of my family I would chicken out.
Unfortunately circumstances around the world right now will lead to more of this happening.

lotta joy said...

I don't know what I would have done, but when I saw a man using a steel ball bearing slingshot to break the backs of water fowl, and laughed as they sank and drowned, I faced him down all my myself, and he had a gang of man cheering him on for his cruelty. I outcussed him and held my ground and when he looked around for backup, all the others had slithered away. I know I was in danger, but I knew someone had to stand up to them. I'd like to think I would have done the same back then, but no one let women intimidate them in that era.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow. Reminds me of how To Kill a Mockingbird has so much basis in real life of that time.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Did your father observe this? How did this change him? The cruelty of some people scares me. And the fact that the 'law' sanctioned this, all the more frightening.
The big question: what would I have done? Try to appeal to their alleged 'Christianity"? Angry mobs hellbent on destruction and cruelty are hard to stop.

Snowbrush said...

“This was a terrible tragedy and a black mark on the soul of our nation.”

No pun intended, I’m sure. I’ll just say this. It happened here in our state—of Oregon—too, but since our state wouldn’t allow black people to own property or, in many instances, even to remain in town after sunset, there were simply very, very few black people who lived here until WWII when war-related industry came to Oregon. Every state in the Union had lynchings. About three out of four were of black people, but some Western states had no black lynchings—Oregon wasn’t one of them.

“Unfortunately circumstances around the world right now will lead to more of this happening.”

Standing up to a lynching back then might have been in the direction of standing up to the Islamic State today when they burn people in a cage or cut off their heads in a public park.

“I'd like to think I would have done the same back then, but no one let women intimidate them in that era.”

It would taken a lot of men with a lot of guns to have intimidated that mob, so you couldn’t have stopped them no matter what your gender, and if you had tried, you would have never been looked upon the same by other people. I know of an instance in the sixties where a white family who had black people over to dinner had their pets killed, received constant threats and harassment, lost their jobs, lost their friends, had their property vandalized, had people circling their house in cars at night tossing out garbage and yelling threats. It got so bad that they had to leave town. Their name was Hefner, and they lived twenty miles from Brookhaven in McComb.

“Wow.”

You’re from Arkansas; didn’t you hear similar stories?

“Did your father observe this? How did this change him?”

I can’t answer either question. I’m not even sure if I found the “right” lynching since Brookhaven had numerous lynchings. This one is simply the only double lynching I found in which two people were drug behind cars, and during which my father would have been a young man. But again, there were a lot of lynchings—about eight per year in Mississippi as near as I could determine—and since my father was nineteen at the time, and had quit school in the eighth grade, I don’t even know where he was living when he was nineteen. Now, that I’m getting old, and he’s dead, I think of so very many things I wish I had asked. All I can say in answer to your questions is that he didn’t say how he felt about lynchings in general or about these lynching in particular, but I can promise you that he didn’t approve because I know how my father felt about black people. He ALWAYS treated them with the utmost in respect and courtesy, and they responded warmly in turn. Because his hidden transsexuality made him feel like an outsider, I believe he might have even favored the company of black people over white people because he could relate to their scorned place in society. My Dad was a lot of things, but he was NO lyncher. That I would bet my life on. It’s funny to be proud that my father wasn’t a sadistic murderer, but given where he grew-up, I am proud.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Very hard to read knowing I've been there many times. My mother was 5 at the time... Such a tragedy

possum said...

Sadly this story is not uncommon. Makes you wonder how often things happened that were just hushed up in public, bragged and chuckled about in barber shops, and never gave any of the Sunday Christians a moments pause on Sunday.
Inter-racial marriage was still illegal here (VA) until 1972.

But you are right... all the racial hatred was not confined to the South. As a Native American, I must add, all the hatred was not confined to Negroes.

(To quote) Teddy Roosevelt once said of Native Americans: ‘I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.’ To him Native Americans were a degenerate impediment to settlement of the American West; they deserved their near-extinction. So too did whites who threatened the prosperity of their race. Roosevelt wrote in 1914: ‘Criminals should be sterilized and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them.’ - See more at: http://www.historytoday.com/tim-stanley/contrarian-teddy-roosevelt-laid-bare#sthash.zDWVjkJA.dpuf

Snowbrush said...

“My mother was 5 at the time... Such a tragedy”

She was in McComb, right, where the Hefners lived until they were run out? Here’s a site that breaks Mississippi lynchings down by town: http://www.oocities.org/hattiesburg_history/lynching.html

“ Makes you wonder how often things happened that were just hushed up in public,”

I wish I knew more because I can find lists of thousands of lynchings, but how was the information known since the local paper would haven’t reported them.

“As a Native American, I must add, all the hatred was not confined to Negroes.”

My Granny was three-quarters Indian, but since she was orphaned in the vicinity of Chattanooga (she was born in 1876), I don’t even know for sure what tribe, although Cherokee seems likely. My Dad had the black hair and dark eyes of an Indian, but my eyes are hazel and my hair brown. If I knew what tribe Granny was from and could prove it, I would be eligible to join that tribe, and I would do it in a heartbeat. I’m appalled by some of the stances taken by tribes and by their reliance upon the immorality of gambling, but my Granny was my life when I was a child, and I’m proud of what she was.

“Teddy Roosevelt once said of Native Americans…”

He hated atheists too, referring to Thomas Paine as “that dirty little atheist,” although Paine was an agnostic. Since TR was a voracious reader, surely he knew this. He was a very interesting man who did great harm and great good, but he surely didn’t think much of non-whites and non-theists.

“‘Criminals should be sterilized and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them.’”

I would agree with him about the retarded. People who can’t take care of themselves shouldn’t be having children. As for sterilizing criminals, I hadn't thought of it. It would seem to assume the impossibility of reform, but is there a point when society should give up a person, and if there is, why stop at sterilization, why not just kill them?

kylie said...

This post of yours came out the day after news broke about the unlawful solitary confinement, tear gassing and other general abuse of young Aboriginal boys in juvenile detention here.

I am appalled but not surprised that we haven't really progressed at all. It's many years since the lynching you refer to, we had a Royal commission into black deaths in custody a full 25 years ago, we know it is wrong, we understand the costs but it just keeps happening.

Sparkling Red said...

That's upsetting. When I was 8 years old I visited South Africa with my parents, and they had an awfully hard time explaining apartheid to me. They couldn't answer my "why" questions to my satisfaction. Because there was no good answer.

E. Rosewater said...

50 years ago my parents took me to disneyland and i can still remember several white people in sacramento who spoke passionately on how much they hated n....ers. i can only guess that the things were a lot worse in mississippi 87 years ago so it would have been very difficult to challenge the mob. as they say, pick your battles and live to fight another day.

Emma Springfield said...

I remember as a little girl watching as schools in the south were being integrated. There were adults actually throwing rocks at small children! Can you imagine? I could not understand why grown-ups would throw rocks at kids. I still cannot understand it.

Snowbrush said...

“we had a Royal commission into black deaths in custody a full 25 years ago, we know it is wrong, we understand the costs but it just keeps happening.”

I can only speak for America when I argue that those who say that nothing has changed here or either so appallingly ignorant that I don’t know how they manage to get out of the rain, either that or they’re seeking dramatic effect. For example, several decades ago, police killings weren’t even investigated much less made the national news for a year or more during time which the families of the deceased were given many millions of dollars before the investigation was complete (much less charges filed or people convicted). As for my home state, I think it very likely that no state in the Union is more integrated than Mississippi when it comes to schools, occupations, and government posts, not that it gets any credit for this from ignorant white liberals who have never even visited there—and wouldn’t visit there if you gave them a free trip. However, I’m not in favor of white-washing history (ha)—lynching history, for example—something that blacks seem as eager to do as any whites. In the current climate, if a historic white person was seen as racist, then everything about that person is regarded as something to eradicate from the history or our nation, and I deplore this. For one thing, where does it end? If racism negates all the good a person did, how about sexism, or sport hunting, or the stealing of land from Indians, or our unfair treatment of Mexicans, Philippinos, and anyone else objected to allowing us to take whatever we wanted from them, etc.?

“They couldn't answer my "why" questions to my satisfaction. Because there was no good answer.”

If you think in terms of keeping your race in power so that you can profit from the oppression of the impoverished while eliminating whatever competition they might represent, then racism makes sense. The question becomes how to oppress others while maintaining a high opinion of yourself as reverent, respected, public-spirited, faithful to your friends and family, and for forth. If you’re a sociopath, you don’t care about such things unless they get in the way of your materialistic goals, but most of us aren’t sociopaths, so we have to come up with rationalizations that might even sound pretty hollow outside the bubble, but if you and everyone you know lives inside the bubble and claims to think as you do, then these rationalization make sense in the same way that a lot of religious beliefs make sense. In the case of blacks, many white people convinced themselves that, for example, black people were subhuman; or, mentally and emotionally, they were like children who need the white race to serve as their parents; or that God cursed Ham and his descendants, and our race is the vehicle appointed by God for carrying out God’s curse; or that black people are unethical and immoral by nature, and, for their own good, they need us to limit their inclinations; or that slavery was justified in that black people were condemned to hell for being pagans, but by teaching them them about Christ, our just recompense was receiving their labor for free; due to their mental limitations, black people lived a subsistence level existence back in Africa, so they were seen as being better off here in a civilized society with modern medicine and machinery even if the cost for being here was slavery.

Snowbrush said...

The mistreatment of blacks was justified in some of the same ways as the mistreatment of Indians and everyone else who had something we wanted but didn’t want to pay for. I even see it in our treatment of other mammals in that we emphasize the imagined superiority of our skills, abilities, appearance, accomplishments, emotions, and so forth while denouncing theirs as the result of instinct (so is much of what we do, but it’s better that we forget all about that if our goal is to exploit other creatures) and claim that they can’t feel pain, terror, and grief. What it comes down to is our resultant belief that they somehow deserve to be treated as we treat them, that is as a vehicle to our enrichment or at least our enjoyment. I think we all do this in regard to all manner of people, both as groups and as individuals. I know it’s extremely hard for me to believe that anyone who votes for Donald Trump has a brain in his or her head, and this leads me to view such people as a liability to progress, and so the road goes ever downward in that the more outraged I become, the less worthy Trump voters become. While I know they’re human in a technical sense, it still seems to me that they’re so callous and stupid that they’re less worthy of consideration—if not life itself—itself than are other people. Sexism as practiced in the West might have represented the most interesting effort at rationalization of all in that women were at least partially put on a pedestal from which they could be viewed as too pure to dirty themselves by many things (for example, voting, or holding political office—changing diapers, yet, but voting or holding office, no). Of course, they were also seen as too unintelligent for college, so it wasn’t all angelicalizing that we men accorded them.

“i can only guess that the things were a lot worse in mississippi 87 years ago so it would have been very difficult to challenge the mob.”

My experiences from the 1960’s taught me that as much as black homegrown “agitators” were hated, and black—or white—outside “agitators” were hated, those who were hated above all were homegrown white people who showed any sympathy for—much less support of—Civil Rights. It was the difference between hating an enemy and hating a traitor. The reason that so few such people were killed was that there was so few of them to kill. Imagine being a Freedom Rider; if you survived a summer of the South (and, in Mississippi, Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman didn’t), you could then go home, but if you supported such people as someone who lived in the South, efforts to make your life miserable would continue unabated until you left.

“50 years ago my parents took me to disneyland and i can still remember several white people in sacramento”

You must have stopped off on the way because Sacramento is a few hundred miles from Disneyland, and the further South one goes in California, the more conservative the people become. Going back to mission days, California has a long and brutal history of controlling minorities through violence. They enslaved and murdered Indians, and brutalized and sometimes murdered Chinese blacks. As with Oregon, for Californians to feel superior to the South is to conveniently forget their own history.

Snowbrush said...

“There were adults actually throwing rocks at small children!”

I wonder if your memory fooled you on that one (I know that mine has done this frequently—two days ago, I saw "Driving Miss Daisy" for the first time in decades, and strongly remembered a significant scene as having occurred in the daytime, which would have given it a very different flavor). Of course, Klansmen murdered children back then, so I’m far from defending the Klan against rock-throwing charges; it’s just that I watched the news faithfully back then and have seen numerous documentaries since then, and I simply don’t remember any rock throwing.

On another note, I’m struck by how little violence there was back then compared to what there might have been. I have every confidence that educating girls in parts of the Middle East today has resulted in more deaths than America’s whole Civil Rights movement, yet no progress has been made in the eduction of girls. The difference between the violence in the Middle East and the similarly motivated violence committed by the old Southern segregationists is that the latter had at least some respect for the law, whereas a lot of modern-day Moslems are so fixated on their belief that they’re obeying God by killing people, that they’re capable of doing anything to anyone at the drop of a hat. Part of my fear about Trump is that he recognizes no rule of law as it applies to him, and his followers show signs of taking his lead. Once the rule of law is no longer respected, all is lost because it’s not the law that makes us civilized but our respect for the law, and if Trump became president, he would view the law as inseparable from what he wanted. I can’t imagine that he would get as far as Hitler, but it wouldn’t be for a lack of trying. Nothing that I ever witnessed in America troubles me nearly so much as Trump’s popularity. He said that he could murder someone in downtown Manhattan in broad daylight, and it wouldn’t hurt his presidential campaign, and I think this is pretty near the truth because I have thought a hundred times that surely such and such a remark or lie would bring him down, but instead he would just become more popular.

Cathy Kennedy said...

Snowbrush, the problem all starts with the heart. It's a shame this happened. I don't think forcible action by the public is a good thing. Nothing rarely gets accomplished in the right way. The black boy who was involved in the crime should have stand trial, more than likely if he was found guilty then he'd be sentenced to die. This was definitely a sad situation, but all the craziness going on where blacks are rioting and killing "white" cops is just more insanity. However, like I said at the start this problem starts in the heart and until these sorts of people starting seeking God's way instead of their own then we won't see much change. Too bad the crowd didn't listen to your dad, but he did take a stand. The angry mob could have turned on him. Thankfully, he lived to tell about it, and so did you. Thanks for sharing this interesting story.

Snowbrush said...

“this problem starts in the heart and until these sorts of people starting seeking God's way instead of their own then we won't see much change”

Is it not usually true that the most violent places are those in which people care the most about doing things “God’s way”? These lynchings which I have been studying occurred primarily in America’s Bible Belt, just as most terrorist killings today are done by people who shout “God is Great” as they shoot their machine guns or blow themselves up. God never tells anyone what his/her/its way is, so the problem occurs when people think he does. Ideologues are almost invariably violent. Whether they’re religious ideologues or secular ideologues, they are sure of that which no one can really know, and this allows them to them feel justified when they destroy lives.

LindaRe said...

I am not familiar with the lynching of the Bearden brothers. Now that my interest is peaked, this will lead me to searching for death records, newspaper articles.

Essie Bearden of Brookhaven is on my family tree, I wonder if she is related to the brothers.

Snowbrush said...

“Essie Bearden of Brookhaven is on my family tree, I wonder if she is related to the brothers”

I had heard the name when I lived in Brookhaven, and this means that it had to be an unusual name, so I would guess that there was a relationship—let me know what your research reveals. I wonder if it would be harder to have a family member who was lynched or a family member who committed such a crime. I really don’t know, but if you have any thoughts I would love to hear them. Maybe the answer is so obvious to you that it seems like a stupid and offensive question, but it’s an honest question nonetheless. When writing this post, I took a lot of comfort in knowing that my father would have never been a part of a lynch mob. While I don’t take responsibility for anyone’s actions but my own, I would still feel like shit to know that my father wallowed in such spiritual filth. I’m so mad at the white people who committed this crime, that I just want to spit on their graves, and on the white churches that did nothing to put an end to lynching.

I just remembered that when I taught school that I had a white student named Rachel Reardon, but I don’t suppose the two names are connected.

Myrna R. said...

Your post makes me think you have the substance for a good memoir around these issues. I like your honesty and I appreciate the abscence of malice in the interactions that sometimes went on, perhaps still go on in the South. Unfortunately, there was a lot of malice too, probably all stemming from ignorance.

I grew up in N.Y. Not the South, yet I felt the repurcusions of racism and prejudice. It was not to the degree that Black Americans have endured, but enough to give me a taste of what it means to be thought of as "less" due to cultural background and skin color.
I have a sense of what it means that prejudice can be internalized by its victims. I remember being ashamed to walk with my grandfather because he was black. I felt superior due to my coffee brown skin. Absurd, right? What ignorance.

When my husband and I were engaged, we'd ride out to the suburbs where it would be great to live. "But, they'd never let us in there," we'd say, as if being excluded from a neighborhood due to color was something not right, but acceptable and predictable. My husband has a graduate degree, (So do I.), yet he felt he could not work under the prejudicial conditions at the Federal Court. He was the first Puerto Rican to work there. He quit to sell radios at a flee market. This was preferable to the subtle and not so subtle humiliations he was subjected to as a professional. Later, he was rehired - something most unusual in the federal system. Many years later, he retired from the federal system that now employs many Puerto Ricans and other hispanics. Nice.

Much has changed, I think. My daughter, who was called a spic as a child, now has no reservations about her children's acceptance in mainstream society. She may have forgotten her childhood encounters with name calling.

My experience is so different from yours. We're from two different worlds. Yet, we are alike. We are seekers, lovers, writers and if we knew each other, maybe could even be friends. At least OUR ignorance is diminishing. May it happen to the whole world.

kj said...

snow, this is chilling, no more so than the crucifixion of matthew shepard and the same dragging fate of james byrd. it terrifies me to acknowledge the reality of mob behavior. I see the potential now at trump rallies. i don't understand the depersonalization we humans can have for other humans, like we have some chip missing.

i had a tenant who is a well known professor of black history and at one of her lectures she talked about and showed the postcards of lynchings. the lynchings were public events like picnics. dehumanization. we have to watch for that, yet again.

love
kj

Snowbrush said...

“I remember being ashamed to walk with my grandfather because he was black. I felt superior due to my coffee brown skin. Absurd, right? What ignorance.”

I think that the way you thought, felt and behaved was—and probably still is—commonplace and logical.

“When my husband and I were engaged, we'd ride out to the suburbs where it would be great to live. "But, they'd never let us in there," we'd say, as if being excluded from a neighborhood due to color was something not right, but acceptable and predictable.”

Did you consider it acceptable, or were you merely resigned to it because you felt there was nothing you could do to fight it? Maybe you know this already (I once put a photocopy of the housing convenant on my blog), but I live in a house that was built in 1955, and the housing covenant forbade reselling the house to anyone whose skin wasn’t white. Yet Eugene, Oregon, was much more liberal and educated than most places, and that was a mere 61-years ago.

“Much has changed, I think.”

I become outraged when people say that “nothing has changed” because they’re so intentionally and smugly ignorant and because they’re implying that all the sacrificial work that was done by all those courageous and idealistic people was a complete failure. Surely, there is better way to share anger than through blatant exaggeration. Besides, if they truly believe that every last effort that was ever made has been a complete failure, then why bother to keep trying? Why not just take inspiration from the Islamic State and kill as many people as you can before they kill you, as many white people that is?

“My experience is so different from yours. We're from two different worlds. Yet, we are alike. We are seekers, lovers, writers and if we knew each other, maybe could even be friends.”

Myrna, I am honored by your acceptance of me, and my heart leaps at the thought of us being friends. If you have an email address on your blog, I’ll send you mine. I try to do this with bloggers whom I’ve known for a long while because I want to insure that I would not lose contact with them no matter what changes Google might ever make regarding our blogs. Yet, I’m not systematic about sharing my address, so many don’t have it.

“snow, this is chilling, no more so than the crucifixion of matthew shepard and the same dragging fate of james byrd.”

I strongly disagree because earlier lynchings were done openly, often by mobs that numbered into the hundreds if not the thousands, and no one in Brookhaven, at least, was ever prosecuted. Murderers could’t do such a thing today without expecting to either be executed or spend the rest of their lives in prison.

“i had a tenant who is a well known professor of black history and at one of her lectures she talked about and showed the postcards of lynchings.”

Those photos can really mess with your head—at least they’ve messed with mine. I’ve seen lynchings in which several people were killed. I don’t know what the record is, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised but what it would be more than twenty, both women and men. Yes, women and children often attended lynchings, including the one of the Beardens (“Parts of the large crowd of men, women and children who had gathered at the courthouse to see the lynching followed the cars either to Old Brook or to the point north of town, and viewed the indescribably revolting spectacles to be found at those places”). Yet, I’ve seen quite a few photos in which only males were pictured, and this has led me to conclude that women and children might have stayed away from the lynching itself but arrived the next day to view the corpses. In any case, these were open and celebratory occasions, and the attendees were often smiling, including the children who were standing surprisingly close to the hanging corpses. The killers of James Byrd must have killed him on their way to a barbecue, because that’s where they went after removing his decapitated corpse from behind their car.

Snowbrush said...

Myrna, I forgot that you had closed your blog, so if we’re to share addresses, you’ll have to put yours in the comment section to my blog. I won’t, of course, allow it to appear.

Love to you too, KJ, my dear friend.