Monthly Archives: December 2008


#1 R&B Song 1965:   “I Got You (I Feel Good),” James Brown


Born:   Cabell “Cab” Calloway III, 1907; Chris Kenner, 1929; O’Kelly Isley (Isley Brothers), 1937



1948   The Ravens’ incredible version of “White Christmas” entered the R&B hit registry, reaching #9. It was the standard by which all future R&B versions would be judged, even the legendary Drifters’ version, which was almost a note-for-note copy. The 78’s B-side, a haunting version of “Silent Night,” reached #8.




1948   “The Christmas Song,” one of the season’s most enduring standards, charted, reaching #8, R&B. Though it has long since been credited to Nat King Cole, the original recording was attributed to the King Cole Trio.



1954   The Penguins’ classic “Earth Angel” charted en route to #8 pop. It is considered to be the most popular R&B oldie of all time.



1958   Alan Freed’s Christmas Rock ‘n’ Roll Spectacular at the Loews State Theater in New York City included performances by Jackie Wilson, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Dion, the Everly Brothers, and Eddie Cochran.


1961   Gladys Knight & the Pips charted R&B with their doo-wop classic, “Letter Full of  Tears,” reaching #3 R&B and #19 pop. The group began in the ’50s, performing on tours with the likes of Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, and B.B. King. Their first single, in 1959, was a cover of the Moonglows’ rocker “Whistle My Love.”


1971   In an unusual recording move, LaBelle did all the backup vocals on Laura Nyro’s It’s Gonna Take  A Miracle, a collection of doo-wop and rock ‘n’ roll standards including “Desiree,” “The Wind,” “I Met Him On a Sunday,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me,” and the title song. The album reached #46 pop and #41 R&B.


1971   The Staples Singers reached #12 pop and #2R&B with “Respect Yourself,” their breakthrough hit 45.



1976   The Supremes ‘ “You’re Driving My Wheel” reached #85 pop, becoming their last of forty-seven singles to hit the Top 100. The last original member, Mary Wilson, then left the group to form Mary Wilson & the Supremes.


1981   A Christmas Day phone greeting from Michael Jackson to Beatle Paul McCarthy led to their decision to write and record together.  The result of their eventual collaboration was “The Girl Is Mine,” which they recorded the following year.


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#1 R&B Song 1966:   “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” the Temptations


Born:  Dave Bartholomew, 1920; Lee Dorsey, 1924



1954   R&B balladeer Johhny Ace shot himself while playing Russian roulette backstage at the Negro Christmas Dance at Houston’s City Auditorium. His weapon of choice was a 22-caliber H&R revolver, which he used after consuming a large quantity of vodka. He was only twenty-five. Many consider his demise the first rock ‘n’ roll casualty.


1954   The Clovers began a ten-day stint at Los Angeles’ 5-4 Ballroom.


1961   The holiday revue at Chicago’s Regal Theater included the Spaniels, the Dukays, Lloyd Price, Erma Franklin, Mittie Collier, and the Sheppards.


1984   Stevie Wonder, a longtime native of Detroit, was given the keys to the city. Buoyed by this experience, he would later state his intention to run for mayor.


1990   Stevie Wonder performed at the Dome in Tokyo, Japan.


1993   Aaron Neville performed at Harry Connick Jr.’s Christmas concert, singing “The Christmas Song.”


1999   Zeke Carey, leader of the Flamingos (of  “I Only Have Eyes For You” and “I’ll be Home” fame) died today. The Flamingos were considered by many fans and music historians as the greatest vocal group of all time. Carey, born January 24, 1933, was sixty-six.

(This is the original recording of the Flamingos “I Only Have Eyes For You”. They recorded this video when they were a good bit older…but the sound track is definitely the original.)


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Published: December 5, 2008
After a lifetime spent writing about Thomas Jefferson and the children he fathered with the slave Sally Hemings, you just won a National Book Award for your sprawling history of her family, “The Hemingses of Monticello.”
It was great to win it on my birthday.
Christian Oth for The New York Times



How did you first get interested in Jefferson?
I first read about him in the third grade. He was into books, and I was into books, too.
But millions of people are into books.
But he was a slave owner and at the same time talked about the equality of all mankind and wrote the Declaration of Independence. I thought that was odd, to have those two things together.
Your book reminds us that black and white is not as clear-cut as separatists like to pretend. Sally Hemings was the daughter of a white father and a slave mother, and three of her children grew up to live as whites.
People talk about Obama as if he were some new thing.
Right, the first interracial man!
It’s astonishing. Sex between the races was more common in the 18th century than it is now.
How do you know?
Based on the children. Slave owners had children with enslaved women.
But the women were mostly raped, weren’t they?
Undoubtedly, the vast majority of enslaved women who had children by slave masters were raped. But there were also situations where men and women of different races genuinely liked one another. Where do people think the rainbow of colors of black people comes from? Most black people in America have some white ancestry.
In that regard, Jefferson and Hemings were pioneers of our increasingly mixed-race society.
I don’t think we are increasingly mixed-race. We’ve always been a mixed-race society.
Have you met our president-elect?
He cycled into Harvard Law School right after I graduated. Every two years, we hold a reunion of black law-school alumni, and he has come back a couple of times. He’s just this incandescent personality.
He is relatively fair-skinned, not unlike Sally Hemings. Do you think that comes with any sort of social message?
He’s not that light-skinned. If he were walking down the street and I saw him, I wouldn’t assume his mother was white. I don’t think it’s the light skin that matters so much as that he has a white parent. For some white people, that might be comforting.
What about Michelle Obama, who has been more saddled with racial stereotypes, perhaps because her skin is darker?
Black people get stereotyped no matter what shade their skin is.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Conroe, a small town in East Texas. My father owned a store and a funeral home. My mother was an English teacher — she taught 10th-grade English, at first in a school that was all black.
You went to a segregated school?
I went to kindergarten at her school, and then, when I was 6, I was the first black child in my school district to go to a white school. I was a bit on display. I can remember adults looking into my classroom and thinking: See? The books have not exploded. There’s nothing weird going on here.
You must have felt vindicated when you won the National Book Award.
I wouldn’t use the word “vindicated.” I would say “gratified.” I worked very, very hard on the book. I wrote and researched 10 or 11 hours a day, for about eight years. Even on weekends.
What about your kids?
We had Saturday night at the movies. That was the mollifier. After I finished work, my husband and I and my son and my daughter all met at a movie.
That’s not exactly quality time.
There are 24 hours in a day — 10 hours for work, 6 hours for sleep. That leaves you enough time to spend with teenage children.
SOURCE:  The New York Times:
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (Hardcover – Sep 17, 2008)
3.5 out of 5 stars (23)
Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy by Annette Gordon-Reed (Paperback – April 1998)
4.2 out of 5 stars (32)
Also of note is the first author who broke this subject open a few decades ago:   Barbara Chase-Riboud, who was viciously attacked for writing that Jefferson fathered children with the enslaved Sally Hemings:
Sally Hemings: A Novel by Barbara Chase-Riboud (Paperback – April 1, 2009)
4.6 out of 5 stars (23)
Ms. Chase-Riboud would be a good starting point in acquiring another aspect of the Hemings-Jefferson debate. Her first novel, “Sally Hemings: A Novel”, was published in 1979, earning her the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best novel written by an American woman.
Ms. Chase-Riboud has also received the Carl Sandburg prize for poetry, and the Women’s Caucus for Art’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1965, she became the first American woman to visit the People’s Republic of China after the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao Tse-Dong, and in 1996, she was knighted by the French government and received the Ordre des Artes et Des Lettres.
Ms. Chase-Riboud currently divides her time between residences in Paris, France and Rome, Italy.
  • Confession for Myself (1973)
  • Malcolm X (1970)
  • Cleopatra’s Cape (1973)
  • Africa Rising (1998)



Further reading

  • Women Artists: An Illustrated History. Nancy Heller, 1987. (Cross River Press)
  • ART: African American. Samella Lewis, 1990. (Hancraft Press)
  • History of Art. H.W. Janson, 1995. (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.)
  • Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists. Lisa E. Farrington, 2004. (Oxford University Press)
  • Barbara Chase-Riboud: Sculptor. Peter Selz & A. Janson, 1999 (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.) ISBN 978-0810941076
  • Notable Black American Women. Jessie Carnie Smith, 1991 (Gale Cengage) ISBN 978-0810347496


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This article discusses the negative stereotypical images that abound in the minds of White students in a survey to research the types of  images of Black women that come to mind. The article discusses the pitfall of using incorrect types of reasearch data to reasearch a particular subject, such as using the Katz/Braly traits list, a list that examines racial stereotypes in America, to obtain data on the student’s views of Black women, as well as women in general. The Katz/Braly traits list, is most ineffective in its use because it is too androcentric in its research, as it leans more toward images/descriptors/signifiers of men  as opposed to those of women.
The researchers of the images of Black women in this study, therefore, revised the Katz/Braly traits list to get more definitive results of how White college students of Arizona State University viewed Black American women. The article also states that it found White students more willing to give positive imaging to American women:  attractive, intelligent, kind, career-oriented, but, on the other hand, was parsimonious in giving the same positive traits to Black women, and was more than wiling to give negative imaging (loud, bitchy, aggressive)  to Black women (even though they too are American women).
The article concludes that since the image of Black American women is one of threatening and out-of-control, these same young White students will one day graduate from college, and will become teachers, doctors, lawyers, professors, and leaders in corporate America and other business industries, and their negative thoughts of Black women will have serious repercussions in how they view, and enteract with, Black American women.
They will in effect, carry with them their racist images of Black women as less than all other women in America, a mindset that will harm and be of detriment to Black American women.
As author Deborah White observed in her book, “Arn’t I A Woman?”: 
 “If she is rescued from the myth of the Negro, the myth of woman traps her. If she escapes the myth of woman, the myth of the Negro still ensnares her.”
. . . .Black American women fight a constant battle to annihilate racist perceptions of their image as deficient human beings, and must constantly resist the societal desire to marginalize them as the “Ultimate Other”.
The final result of the vestiges of this legacy is that from this dual set of myths Black American women have emerged as siginificantly different in their image from either Black men, white women, or women of other racial/ethnic groups.
The disfigured images that are a legacy of the historical assault upon Black American women which still remain with us.
by Rose Weitz , Leonard Gordon



Previous research on popular images of womenand of minority groups has looked almost solely at images of minority men and of white women. This article presents survey data on images of black women among 256 white non-Hispanic college undergraduates, using a modified Katz/Braly scale. The article explores the nature, distribution, correlates, and emotional evaluations of these images and the implications of these images for black women’s lives.
Images of black women differed substantially from those of American women in general.
Most commonly, black women were characterized as loud, talkative, aggressive, intelligent, straightforward, and argumentative. In addition, students rated positive traits less positive and negative traits less negative when exhibited by black women than by American women in general, apparently because of their expectations for black women’s behavior.


Since the 1930s, many studies have investigated the nature and distribution of images of blacks and other minorities. These studies have found widespread negative images, declining from the 1930s to the 1970s but rising slightly in the 1980s (Gordon, 1991; Stephan & Rosenfield, 1982). Studies conducted during the 1980s found that whites most commonly described blacks as aggressive, loyal to family ties, lazy, very religious, sly, and intelligent (Gordon, 1986; Clark & Pearson, 1982). Over the last two decades, the one trait that white respondents consistently have chosen to describe blacks is “aggressive” (Gordon, 1986; Clark and Pearson, 1982; Maykovich, 1972; Ogawa, 1971).


Despite this long and extensive history of research, however, few researchers have investigated how images of black women and women from other minority groups might differ from images of minority men. Yet cultural and historical analyses of literature, scholarship, and popular culture strongly suggest that these images differ substantially. This article will examine the nature, distribution, and attitudinal correlates of images of black women among an Anglo (white non-Hispanic) undergraduate sample and will test the hypothesis that images of black women differ substantially from images of women in general (with ethnicity unspecified). This study will also discuss the implications for black women’s lives of these images.


Cultural and historical analyses have identified four recurrent images of black women in American society: “mammies,” sexually loose women matriarchs, and, more recently, welfare mothers (Collins, 1990; Staples, 1973; King, 1973; Wilkinson, 1987; Morton, 1991; Sims-Wood, 1988; Hooks, 1981).


The images of black women as mammies and as sexually loose stem directly from the centuries of slavery. Black women slaves often served as domestics and could not safely show their discontent with this position. The mammy or “Aunt Jemima” image reflects this history, and refers to a fat, African-looking woman who willingly and jovially serves a white family. Similarly, black women slaves could not protect themselves from the sexual assaults of white men.
Consequently, white men projected their desires onto black women and concluded that black women were more animalistic and sexual than white women. From this emerged the image of black women as sexually loose.


The image of black women as matriarchs owes its existence largely to social science literature. Beginning most importantly with E. Franklin Frazier (1947) and Daniel P. Moynihan (1965), researchers have described black women as overbearing and emasculating. Moynihan, especially, argued that black women caused economic hardship in the black community and disrupted the black family by dominating their sons and driving their husbands and lovers away. Although other scholars |including most importantly, Gutman (1976) and Staples (1973)~ have thoroughly discredited these arguments, the image of black women as overbearing matriarchs continues to appear in popular culture (cf., Baptiste, 1986).


The image of black women as welfare mothers is the most recent of these images. It portrays black women as “breeders” too lazy to work and too ignorant, stupid, lazy or greedy for welfare funds to control their reproduction. Thus, this image in part reflects whites’ fears regarding the consequences of black women’s purported sexual accessibility. This image seems to have replaced the considerably more positive image of the hardworking mammy.


Although cultural and historical studies can alert us to the existence of popular images of black women, they cannot tell us the extent to which the general public accepts these images. Nor can they tell us the distribution or correlates of believing in such images. For such information, we must turn to interview and survey research.
Unfortunately, no interview research exists on this topic, while previous surveys have relied on methodologies that, for two reasons, cannot provide us with information about images of black women. First, virtually all previous surveys have asked respondents to describe the characteristics of blacks rather than those of black men or black women specifically. Yet research suggests that when asked questions about people in general (with gender unspecified), most individuals in fact will think only about men (Broverman, Vogel, Broverman, Clarkson, & Rosenkrantz, 1972; Eagley & Kite, 1987).
Second, the bias against analyzing images of women is built into the scales researchers commonly use. For example, according to Miller (1982), the most common single technique for investigating minority stereotyping is the Katz/Braly scale (Katz & Braly, 1933). This scale consists of 84 traits, from which respondents choose the 5 they feel best characterize various groups. The traits include stereotypically male traits (such as sportsmanlike or strong) but not stereotypically female traits (such as pretty or bitchy). Thus, the nature of both the questions and the possible responses encourages respondents to envision only minority men when using the scale. Using other scales has not eliminated this problem, for they, too, contain supposedly neutral questions that, for the same reasons, likely elicit images only of men.


The same problem haunts research on popular images of women.
Beginning in the 1960s, many researchers have investigated this subject (Ruble & Ruble, 1982). Almost all these researchers, however, have asked respondents to characterize simply women in general, with race unspecified. We hypothesize that in such circumstances most individuals will think of women of their own race. Because most American survey respondents are white, therefore, most respondents in previous surveys would have envisioned only white women in answering supposedly race-neutral questions.


A study by Landrine (1985) provides the one exception to this pattern.(3) She surveyed 44 mostly middle-class, white, female undergraduates about popular images of black and white women. The students reported their belief that society regard black women as more dirty, hostile, and superstitious than white women and regards white women as more dependent, emotional, intelligent, passive, suggestible, talkative, vain, and warm. When asked to what extent they agreed with these images, most students said they disagreed slightly (an average rating of 6 on a scale of 9). Interpreting these results is difficult, both because of the study’s small and nonrepresentative sample and, more importantly, because respondents’ beliefs about cultural images may not accurately reflect either those images or their own views about black woemn. In contrast, in this article, we will report data that draw on a larger sample to address directly questions regarding the nature and distribution of images of black women.





The first and main sample for this study consisted of all students (N = 405) enrolled in one section of Introductory Sociology at Arizona State University (ASU) during spring 1991, 77% of whom returned usable questionnaires. ASU is an urban, largely commuter, public university, with more than 30,500 undergraduates at its main campus. First-year students at ASU do not differ significantly from first-year students nationally with respect to age or race (Astin, Korn, & Berz, 1989); no other comparative statistics are available. Because 42% of ASU freshmen are out-of-state residents (a higher proportion than at most universities), data collected at ASU do not reflect purely local attitudes.


Just over half (55%) of the respondents were male, compared to 51% of ASU’s undergraduate population.
Twenty-seven percent were Protestant, 30% Catholic, 4% Mormon, and 5% Jewish. Five percent reported some other religion and 30% reported that they practice no religion. No comparable data are available for the university. Compared to university students overall, the sample contains 15% fewer Protestants and 15% more with no religion (Astin et al., 1989). Three-fifths of the students were 18 or 19 years old, and 96% were under age 25. In contrast, only 73% of the ASU undergraduate population as a whole is under age 25.
However, this age distribution is probably typical for students taking lower division courses such as Introductory Sociology. No data on social class were collected. The data on ethnicity revealed that 2% of respondents were black,3% Asian, 8% Hispanic, and 1% Native American; these percentages match almost exactly the racial distribution of ASU’s population. Because so few Hispanic and nonwhite students participated, we could not compare minority students to nonminority students. Consequently, we removed all Hispanics and nonwhites from the analysis. What follows, therefore, is based on responses from the 256 Anglo (i.e., white, non-Hispanic) students.


In addition, a second sample was used to help in understanding the data collected by our instrument. This sample consisted of students enrolled in another introductory sociology class with similar demographics. All 79 enrolled students participated.




Data for the first sample were collected through a precoded questionnaire, which contained a revised version of the Katz/Braly trait list and questions on demographic background and on acceptance of racist and sexist ideas. To revise the trait list, we first deleted from the list 29 traits (such as cowardly, revengeful, and stolid) which few respondents had chosen in past surveys. To decide which traits to add so that the list would apply to women, we asked all students in several upper-division sociology classes which draw students from diverse majors to list all the traits generally associated with American, black, disabled, Japanese, Jewish, lesbian, Mexican, and Native American women.(4) (Because students cannot take upper division classes until after taking Introductory Sociology, none of these students were enrolled in the Introductory classes that we used for our samples.) In this way, we identified 28 frequently chosen traits (such as spoiled, jealous, and family-oriented) which we added to the end of the revised Katz/Braly trait list, for a final list of 83 traits. Table I gives the revised trait list and identifies the added and deleted traits.


The completed questionnaire asked respondents to select the five traits from the revised Katz/Braly scale which they believed best described each of eight groups–American women in general, black women, disabled women, Japanese women, Jewish women, lesbian women, Mexican women, and Native American women; this article reports only the data on black women. Negative and positive traits were randomly distributed on the list to avoid acquiescent response bias. Because respondents could easily tell that this scale measured images of ethnic group, the resulting data probably underestimate the existence of negative images, for some respondents probably dissembled to avoid giving answers they suspected might be socially undesirable.




To explore how other attitudes correlated with images of black women, we constructed a racism and a sexism scale. The sexism scale combined answers from three Likert-style questions: whether American women in general have too much power, whether men are better leaders than women, and whether women should have equal employment opportunity. These items were deemed appropriate for combining into a scale because they were significantly correlated and appeared, at the level of face validity, to measure different dimensions of sexism. The racism scale combined answers from parallel, significantly correlated, questions phrased in terms of nonwhites in general. We used these items rather than the more commonly used scales because they gave us truly parallel measures of racism and sexism.(5) The sexism scale had an alpha of .8134 and the racism scale an alpha of .7410, both suggesting strong reliability. Scores on the sexism scale were significantly higher than those on the racism scale; on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high), the average sexism score was 2.314, while the average racism score was 1.890 (t = 10.84, df = 385, p |is less than~ .001).


Our second sample was used to quantify the emotional evaluations of the traits on the revised trait list. For this purpose, we distributed to the second sample a questionnaire which explained that students in another class had been asked to decide which of a list of 83 traits characterize a given target group. The questionnaire further explained that to understand the answers from the other class, we needed to know whether these traits are positive, negative, or neutral. Students were then asked, “If someone told you that the following traits characterize (target group), would you consider that a positive, negative, or neutral statement?”
 Fifty-four students received questionnaires that used “American women in general” as the target group and 25 received questionnaires with black women as the target group. (More students were given questionnaires regarding American women in general than regarding black women to ensure that we would have sufficient data for our basic comparison group.) We then assigned a score of 1 to positive ratings, 2 to neutral ratings, and 3 to negative ratings, and computed average ratings for each trait. These average ratings were then used in analyzing the emotional evaluation of the traits on the revised trait list.




Questionnaires and a cover letter describing the study were distributed at the beginning and collected at the end of a class session. All questionnaires were coded and computer-analyzed.



Table II presents the 10 traits that students in the main survey most commonly selected when asked to characterize black women and the 12 traits they most commonly selected to characterize American women in general. (Three traits tied for tenth place.) As can be seen, the traits selected for American women in general are overwhelmingly positive, while the picture drawn of black women is far more negative. For example, 45% characterize women in general as intelligent but only 22% characterize black women this way. Similarly, American women in general, but not black women, are characterized as (among other things) sensitive, attractive, sophisticated, career-oriented, and independent, while black women are characterized as loud, aggressive, argumentative, stubborn, and bitchy.


Table II. Percentages Selecting Most Commonly Selected Traits
American women
  in general                        Black women
  (n = 256)            %             (n = 236)              %
Intelligent           45            Loud                   38
Materialistic         37            Talkative              23
Sensitive             20            Aggressive             22
Attractive            20            Intelligent            22
Sophisticated         18            Straightforward        18
Emotional             18            Argumentative          14
Ambitious             17            Stubborn               14
Career-oriented       16            Quick-tempered         12
Independent           15            Bitchy
Talkative             13            Too many children      11
Imaginative           13
Kind                  13
The substantial difference between these two lists of traits supports the hypothesis that asking respondents solely about women in general generates images that do not hold for minority women. In addition, the traits selected to describe black women suggest that Anglo students primarily view black women as threats: loud, aggressive, argumentative, stubborn, and so on. This image, it should be noted, strongly resembles the image of “black matriarchs,” although without specifying black men as the victims of these threats. Although Table II provides useful data regarding the proportion of Anglo students who believe that various individual traits characterize black women, it cannot tell us how students mentally combine these traits into more complex images of black women. For this purpose, we ran a factor analysis to determine which combinations of traits respondents most often selected as characteristic of black women. Using maximum-likelihood extraction and orthogonal rotation and seeking the most parsimonious solution, three factors emerged: a threatening factor (consisting of loud, dishonest, and argumentative), a “good mother/wife/daughter” factor (intelligent, family-oriented, and loyal to family ties), and a “welfare mother” factor (too many children, fat, and lazy). Virtually all respondents (95%) selected one or more of the traits which comprise the threatening factor, 28% selected one or more of the good mother/wife/daughter traits, and 19% selected one or more of the welfare mother traits.


Neither sex, age, religion of origin, current religion, being a born-again Christian, nor self-described political orientation was significantly associated with any of these three factors. The racism and sexism scales, however, were significantly correlated with the three factors. Both racism and sexism were negatively correlated with the good mother/wife/daughter factor (for racism, r = -.2158, p |is less than~ .001; for sexism, r = -.2647, p |is less than~ .001) and positively correlated with the welfare mother factor (for racism, r = .3229, p |is less than~ .001; for sexism, r = .2020, p |is less than~ .001). The threatening factor, however, was not significantly associated with either sexism or racism.


Both sexism and racism are highly correlated with each other (r = .6334, p |is less than~ .001). To determine whether sexism had an impact independent of racism, we used multiple regression analysis. When both variables were entered into the equation, only racism significantly correlated with characterizing black women as welfare mothers and only sexism significantly (and negatively) correlated with characterizing black women as good mothers/wives/daughters (Table III).(6) Racism and sexism in combination, as when investigated separately, were not correlated with characterizing black women as threatening. For all three factors, adding the interaction between racism and sexism as a third independent variable did not significantly affect the results.




Up to this point, our analysis relied solely on the revised Katz/Braly scale and on our first survey for dependent variables. A major limitation of this scale, however, is its implicit assumption that a given trait has the same meaning when used to describe different groups. Data from the second survey enabled us to test this assumption. We calculated the mean rating for each trait among the 25 respondents whose target group was black women and among the 54 whose target group was American women in general (with “positive” given a score of 1, “neutral” a score of 2, and “negative” a score of 3). We then used t tests for differences of means to compare the average rating of each trait for black women black women with the average rating of that trait for American women in general.


The differences in average ratings were significant for 10 traits (Table IV). A striking pattern emerged: of these 10 traits, the 5 rated most positively for women in general– determined, attractive, assertive, independent, and meditative- -were all considered less positive for black women. At the same time, the 5 considered most negative for women in general–very religious, loud, asexual, having too many children, and weak- -were all considered less negative for black women. Because these data are based on a small sample, their reliability is limited.
However, the consistency of the results adds to their credibility, as does the fact that data we collected on attitudes towards Mexican and Jewish women yielded identical patterns (Weitz, 1992).


Further analysis suggested that the same people who rate black women ess negatively on negative traits rate them less positively on positive traits. Scores on the negative traits are negatively correlated with scores on the positive traits, i.e., as individuals’ scores on the negative traits go down or become less negative, their scores on the positive traits go up or become less positive (r = -.1690, p |is less than~ .05). Perhaps because of the small size of this second survey, however, these results are not statistically significant and these findings have to be considered tentative.




Our findings suggest two conclusions: that Anglo students assign different emotional evaluations to the same trait depending on whether they are characterizing women in general or black women and that Anglo students believe that black women are generally characterized by a different and substantially more negative set of traits than women in general.




The first of these two conclusions is the more unexpected and requires the most explanation. We would suggest that Anglo students consider positive traits less positive for black women and negative traits less negative because of their expectations regarding how black women should and would behave. Those who have low expectations for black women’s behavior–expecting them to be weak or to have too many children, for example–will not be surprised when black women meet those expectations. Consequently, they will not judge these traits less harshly when exhibited by black women, perhaps believing at some level that black women cannot help acting in these ways. Conversely, such respondents will be not only surprised but disturbed when black women act independently, assertively, or even thoughtfully (one possible interpretation of meditative).


An alternative explanation would hold that Anglo students rate black women less harshly when characterized by negative traits because these students want to “given them the benefit of the doubt.” Anglo students may believe that social factors make it more likely that black women will, for example, have many children, be loud, or be weak. They thus may not blame black women who exhibit such traits and, thus, may rate them less harshly than other women who exhibit the same traits. Logically, however, such respondents should also view black women more positively than others when they exhibit positive traits, in the belief that black women would have had to overcome substantial odds to do so. As the data show, however, the reverse is true. Thus, the first explanation for the discrepancy in trait ratings seems the more parsimonious and hence more likely explanation.


The particular image that emerged most strongly in this study, in both the analysis of frequencies and the factor analysis, is the image of black women as threatening. This image was so common that even those who otherwise appeared nonracist and nonsexist on our measures still subscribed to it.


Although the image of black women as threatening does not have deep historic roots, the image of black men as threatening is an old and familiar one in American iconography. For decades, whites used this image to justify lynchings of black men (Hall, 1979; Zangrando, 1980). More recently, George Bush masterfully manipulated this image, in the form of Willie Horton, to bolster his 1988 presidential campaign. The image of black women as threatening, which appears in our students’ responses, probably draws in part on ideas about the threatening nature of black men. Anglo students who have never encountered a clear, specific, and widely held stereotype of black women may have extrapolated beliefs about black women from popular ideas about black men.


The image of black women as threatening also may reflect our respondents’ status as recent high-school graduates. Adolescence is probably the age during which whites and blacks are most likely to harm each other. Given the absence of true integration in this country, most of these students will have graduated either from high schools with virtually no blacks (and hence assumed, in the absence of a popular image of black women, that the image of black men also applied to black women) or from high schools which were racially torn. The latter schools are often segregated enough so that one has few if any classmates or friends of other races but integrated enough so that one does encounter members of other races in public areas. In these situations, both blacks and whites may fear and sometimes encounter physical harm from the other.


Finally, the image of black women as threatening may derive in part from the myth of the black matriarchy. The entertainment industry has often portrayed black women as domineering, beginning at least as early as the Amos and Andy radio show, with its “Sapphire” character (Sims-Wood, 1988; Ely, 1991). The news media, meanwhile have reinforced this idea by publicizing social scientific research on the black matriarchy and the supposed death of the black family. Students’ ideas about black women may thus stem in part from these sources.


In contrast, the good mother/wife/daughter image seems the descendant of the “Mammy” or “Aunt Jemima” stereotype. Whereas white culture in the past, however, had depicted Mammy and Aunt Jemima as always and willingly taking care of others’ families, the good mother/wife/daughter image depicts them taking care of their own families.


The third image that emerged in this study, of black women as welfare mothers, has more obvious roots in contemporary American culture. Stories of poor black mothers, often unmarried and on welfare, appear frequently in newspapers–probably more often than any other images of black women. Whether or not reporters intend it, white readers often seem to conclude from these stories that most black women not only live in poverty, but also deserve their poverty. To many white American readers, the problems of poor black women seem to stem from their uncontrolled sexuality, which leads them to give birth often and early, and to their laziness, which leads them to rely on welfare rather than to better themselves through education or a job.


The problems that black women face when they are viewed as threats or as welfare mothers are obvious. In contrast, the image of black women as good mothers, wives, and daughters, at first glance, seems benign. Yet this image, too, may handicap black women in white society, for it stands in striking contrast to Anglo students’ image of American women in general. That latter image places American women not within the family but within the broader world–career-oriented, ambitious, independent, and intelligent (the latter trait chosen by these Anglo students almost twice as often for American women in general as for black women). Although in some ways positive, therefore, the image of black women as good wives, mothers, and daughters will not help black women who aspire to success in the public sphere.


The emotional evaluations of traits taken from the second survey also suggest some pessimistic conclusions. Several decades ago, Robert K. Merton (1957) described how ethnic groups can be “damned if they do and damned if they don’t”: condemned as pushy or sly when they succeed despite discrimination and as lazy or stupid when they do not.
Thus an Englishman gets labeled “thrifty,” while a Jew who behaves identically gets labeled “stingy.” Similarly, various cognitive psychologists have suggested that majority-group members often attribute minority successes to luck or other situational factors, while attributing minority failures to laziness, stupidity, or other internal factors (Greenberg & Rosenfield, 1979; Hamilton, 1979; Pettigrew, 1979).


These theories suggest that whites will view black women who succeed (or, in our terms, exhibit positive traits) less positively than they would equally successful whites, since white observers would attribute black women’s successes to forces outside the women’s control rather than to hard work, intelligence, and so on. The theories leave open whether those who fail will be judged more harshly (because they are presumed to have had only themselves to blame for their failures) or less harshly (because those failures were caused by purported insurmountable, inborn weaknesses). Our data support the latter interpretation.


These data have significant implications for black women’s ability to succeed. Our data come only from college students. It is from the ranks of these students, however, that future teachers, employers, and others who hold positions of authority will be drawn. Extrapolating from this study, therefore, we would hypothesize that white teachers and supervisors, for example, will less often reward young black women for their successes than reward young white women and will less often chastise black women for their failures. As a result, black women’s incentive to achieve may decline. Moreover, those black women who do achieve, whether in school or the marketplace, will likely find that their achievements either are not rewarded or are even held against them by whites as signs that these black women are stepping out of their “places” or benefiting undeservedly due to good luck.


Previous research has provided us with considerable data regarding the nature and sources of cultural images of minority groups and of women. No longer, however, can we assume that ethnic images hold across gender lines or that gender images hold across ethnic lines. We are currently conducting qualitative interviews to obtain more detailed data on image of minority women. Our future plans call for conducting parallel survey research with broader samples on other groups of minority women and investigating images of minority women within various minority communities. We hope, for example, to study stereotypes of black women among both black men and black women. Such research will enable us to investigate the extent to which gender and ethnic groups reject or internalize oppressive cultural images.


2 To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Sociology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2101.


3 In addition, Bayton and Muldrow (1968) provide some minimal data about images of black women. Most of their article, however, focuses on how black respondents’ skin color affects their assessment of light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks.


4 We used the term “black” rather than “African American” on this scale because it is the term most often used by Anglos. The term “African American” might have suggested to respondents that the researchers held “politically correct” or liberal views and, thus, might have decreased respondents’ willingness to give “politically incorrect” answers. Because we used the term “black” in this survey, we use it in this paper to increase clarity and consistency.


5 Although a scale based on more items might have been a stronger measure, scales based on only three items are common in sociological research and provide stronger measures of a given concept than do individual items.


6 Because our purpose was to investigate whether racism and sexism each affect the dependent variables and are worth studying in future analyses, our focus was on the betas rather than the explained variance. We recognize, however, that the explained variance is small and that the final word on this awaits a better specified model.




Astin, A. W., Korn, W. S., & Berz, E. R. (1989). American freshman: National norms for fall 1989. Los Angeles: American Council on Education, Cooperative Institutional Research Program, University of California.

Baptiste, D. A. (1986). The image of the black family portrayed by television: A critical comment. Marriage and Family Review, 10, 41-63.


Bayton, J. A., & Muldrow, T. R. (1968). Interacting variables in the perception of racial personality traits. Journal of Experimental Research in Personality, 3, 39-44.


Broverman, I., Vogel, S. R., Broverman, D. M., Clarkson, F. E., & Rosenkrantz, P. S. (1972). Sex role stereotypes: A current appraisal. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 119-133.


Clark, M. L., & Pearson, W. (1982). Racial stereotypes revisited. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 6, 381-393.


Collins, P. H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Boston: Unwin Hyman.


Eagley, A. H., & Kite, M. (1987). Are stereotypes of nationalities applied to both men and women? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 451-62.


Ely, M. P. (1991). The adventures of Amos and Andy. New York: Free Press.


Frazier, E. F. (1947). The Negro family in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Gordon, L. (1986). College student stereotypes of blacks and Jews on two campuses: Four studies spanning 50 years. Sociology and Social Research, 70, 200-201.


Gordon, L. (1991). Race relations and attitudes at Arizona State University. In P. G. Altbach & K. Lomotey (eds.)., The Racial Crisis in American Higher Education (pp. 233-248). New York: State University of New York Press.


Greenberg, J., & Rosenfield, D. (1979). Whites’ ethnocentrism and their attributions for the behavior of blacks: A motivational bias. Journal of Personality, 47, 643-657.


Gutman, H. (1976). Black family in slavery and freedom. New York: Pantheon.


Hall, J. D. (1979). Revolt against chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the women’s campaign against lynching. New York: Columbia University Press.


Hamilton, D. L. (1979). A cognitive-attributional analysis of stereotyping. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 12, 53-84.


Hooks, B. (1981). Ain’t I a woman: Black women and feminism. Boston: South End Press.


Katz, D., & Braly, K. (1933). Racial prejudice and racial stereotypes. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 30, 175-193.


King, M. C. (1973). The politics of sexual stereotypes. Black Scholar, 4, 12-23.


Landrine, H. (1985). Race x class stereotypes of women. Sex Roles, 13, 65-75.


Maykovich, M. K. (1972). Stereotypes and racial images–white, black, and yellow. Human Relations, 25, 101-120.


Merton, R. K. (1957). Social theory and social structure. New York: Free Press.


Miller, A. G. (1982). Historical and contemporary perspectives on stereotyping. In A. G. Miller (ed.), In the eye of the beholder: Contemporary issues in stereotyping (pp. 1-40). New York: Praeger.


Morton, P. (1991). Disfigured images: The historical assault on Afro-American women. Westport, CT: Greenwood.


Moynihan, D. P. (1965). The Negro family: The case for national action. Washington, DC: GPO.


Ogawa, D. M. (1971). Small group communication: Stereotypes of black Americans. Journal of Black Studies, 2, 273-281.


Pettigrew, T. F. (1979). The ultimate attribution error: Extending Allport’s cognitive analysis of prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 5, 461-476.


Ruble, D. N., & Ruble, T. L. (1982). Sex stereotypes. In A. G. Miller (ed.), In the eye of the beholder: Contemporary issues in stereotyping (pp. 188-252). New York: Praeger.


Sims-Wood, J. (1988). The black female: Mammy, Jemima, Sapphire, and other images. In J. Smith (ed.), Images of blacks in American culture (pp. 235-256). Westport, CT: Greenwood.


Staples, R. (1973). Black women in America: Sex, marriage, and family. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.


Stephan, W. G., & Rosenfield, D. (1982). Racial and ethnic stereotypes. In A. G. Miller (ed.), In the eye of the beholder: Contemporary issues in stereotyping (pp. 92-136). New York: Praeger.


Weitz, R. (1992, August). College students’ stereotypes of black American, Mexican American, and Jewish American women. Paper presented at the meetings of the American Sociological Association, Pittsburgh, PA.


Wilkinson, D. (1987). The doll exhibit: A psycho-cultural analysis of black female role stereotypes. Journal of Popular Culture, 21, 19-29.

Zangrando, R. L. (1980). The NAACP crusade against lynching, 1909-1950. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.



Questia Media America, Inc.

Publication Information: Article Title: Images of Black Women among Anglo College Students. Contributors: Rose Weitz – author, Leonard Gordon – author. Journal Title: Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. Volume: 28. Issue: 1-2. Publication Year: 1993. Page Number: 19+. COPYRIGHT 1993 Plenum Publishing Corporation; COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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19/12/2008 1:35:00 PM.  |
A 12-year-old girl wrongfully arrested as a suspected prostitute, beaten by police and then arrested for assaulting a public servant has launched a lawsuit against the officers, the Houston Press reports.

Dymond Milburn, from Galveston, Texas, was grabbed by three plain-clothed police officers out the front of her house and told, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me”, according to the lawsuit.

After struggling with the men and screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”, the girl had her mouth covered and was struck in the face and throat, leaving her with black eyes and throat and ear drum injuries, her lawyer said.

The officers had been called to the area in relation to three white prostitutes nearby.

Dymond’s house was two blocks from the area the policemen were told to go to, and, as an African American 12-year-old girl, she did not fit the physical description of the suspects.

However, the officers reportedly believed she was a prostitute because of the “tight shorts” she was wearing.

Three weeks later, police went to Dymond’s school and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Her father was also arrested.

Dymond’s case went to court, with the judge declaring a mistrial on the first day.

She now reportedly suffers nightmares about the incident, and is suing the officers.

An internal affairs investigation into the incident found the police had not committed any violations.

“The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances,” the officers’ lawyer, William Helfand, told the Houston Press.

“It’s unfortunate that sometimes police officers have to use force against people who are using force against them. And the evidence will show that both these folks violated the law and forcefully resisted arrest.”

“Dymond Milburn, from Galveston, Texas, was grabbed by three plain-clothed police officers out the front of her house and told, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me”, according to the lawsuit.”
These three pieces of feces went into this little 12-year-old girl’s front yard, jumped on her, beat her and called her a prostitute because she was wearing “tight shorts” in her own yard!
Of course, her being a Black girl living in America gives carte blance to three plain clothes cops to beat her, accuse her of prostitution, and arrest her father for coming to her defense.
“The officers had been called to the area in relation to three white prostitutes nearby.”
So, since you cannot find the White prostitutes, what the hell, why not go after a little girl just because she is Black? Okay, so three White prostitutes morphed into a little 12-year-old Black girl? Pray tell, what law of physics does that come from?
Incidents like this are nothing new in Black neighborhoods, as through the decades, any Black woman walking to her home, was considered a prostitute by cops, just because she was a Black woman.
“Dymond’s house was two blocks from the area the policemen were told to go to, and, as an African American 12-year-old girl, she did not fit the physical description of the suspects.”
Dymond did not have to fit any physical description of the suspects because of the lies and filth of racist stereotypes created and perpetrated against Black women and girls during slavery, Reconsruction, and Jane Crow segregation.
If Dymond was a little 12-year-old White girl, none of this brutish beating would have happenend to her, but, since Dymond is a little Black girl, her life rates no value.
“However, the officers reportedly believed she was a prostitute because of the “tight shorts” she was wearing.”
So, wearing “tight clothes” indicates that a woman or girl is a prostitute? So, by that mentally challenged logic, men who catcall and wolf whistle at women are pimps, rapists and human garbage?
By the lunatic illogic of these three pieces of human excrement, all women and girls who wear shorts are whores fit only to be beaten. So, I guess they had better not be driving by any city, state and national parks anytime soon; they had better not drive by any beaches anytime soon, they had better not enter any grocery stores anytime soon, because they will react like vicious savages and beat nearly to death, many women and girls they see wearing tight shorts.
Three weeks later, police went to Dymond’s school and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Her father was also arrested.”
As if beating little Dymond was not enough, these. . . . .buckets of vomit. . . . .had the temerity to go to her school and arrest her in front of her classmates for the crimes they did against Dymond, as well as arrest her father for defending her against these supposed men who ganged up on his daughter.
“Dymond’s case went to court, with the judge declaring a mistrial on the first day.

“She now reportedly suffers nightmares about the incident, and is suing the officers.

“An internal affairs investigation into the incident found the police had not committed any violations.”

Little Dymond now suffers from nightmares and terror for what these nasty lowlifes did to her. As expected, internal affairs absolved these humans of their wrong doing. WEIN?
“The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances,” the officers’ lawyer, William Helfand, told the Houston Press.”
Of course their conduct was “appropriate” in the eyes of their superiors. They have been gestapo murderers and attackers against Black citizens for centuries, so why would their actions all of a sudden be held up to scrutiny and conviction?
“It’s unfortunate that sometimes police officers have to use force against people who are using force against them. And the evidence will show that both these folks violated the law and forcefully resisted arrest.”
No, it is “unfortunate” that little Black girls like Dymond are beaten by ball-less trash, then arrested in her class, her father arrested, and the gall of the police to state that Dymond and her father violated the law.
The only things that violated the law were these dungheaps.
May little Dymond sue the whole police department into the Stone Age for what they did to her.
Then again, to know the law, is to protect yourself from it. False arrest of a citizen is as much a crime as attacking a uniformed police officer. Citizens do have the right to defend themselves against attacks by police, plain clothes, or uniformed:
-Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80; Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1
-Jones v. State, 26 Tex. App. I; Beaverts v. State, 4 Tex. App. 1 75; Skidmore v. State, 43 Tex. 93, 903
-State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260
One case that is even more explicit on protecting oneself against aggression from police, uniformed or plain clothes, is the case of:   US Supreme Court Case John Bad Elk v. U.S. 177 U.S. 529
Here is where little Dymond had a right to self-preservation and self-protection against abusive belligerent cops ganging upon a little defenseless girl:
“An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.” (State vs. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260).
And here:
Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense.” (State vs. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2nd 100.)
Dymond’s father had the right to come to her aid, and even kill the cops, who were a trio of cowardly men attacking a little girl:

“One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance.” (Adams vs. State, 121 GA. 16, 48 S.E. 910).

“When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justified.” (Runyan vs. State 57 IN. 80; Miller vs. State 7 IN 1.)

From the state of Texas, Texas Penal Code Chapter 9, Subchapter C, Subsection (c),  there is stated the following:

“(c) The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified:          (1) if, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search; and

          (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer’s (or other person’s) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary.”

The city of Galveston and its police department should be charged with a capital crime for the wrongs these things did to little Dymond. She should have psychiatric treatment for the rest of her life for the mental anguish and trauma these thugs did to her. She should win a huge lawsuit that would make the city of Galveston, Texas and its rouge cops an example of.
Do wrong to your citizens, expect to pay the ultimate price.
(To readers:  This incident occurred in August 2006. The lawsuit of Dymond and her family was filed in August 2008. Dymond’s attorney alerted the Houston Press reporter Chris Vogel, who wrote about the case on December 17, 2008.)
Dymond’s retrial is scheduled for February, 2009.
Hattip to Gina of What About Our Daughters:

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The Disciples of Hatred, in Their Own Words and Images
Published: December 22, 2008

Nazi hunters have made an art of exposing war criminals through photographs taken in the death camp era. This strategy would have worked well against Southern lynch-mob killers who posed for the camera while murdering African-Americans in a campaign of terror that persisted into the mid-20th century.

Black American lives were viewed as expendable in the pre-civil rights South. The murderers who hanged, dismembered or burned black victims alive — before crowds of cheering onlookers — knew well that the law would not act against them. These savage rituals were meant to keep the black community on its knees.

The white men and women who flocked to these carnivals of death sometimes brought along young children, who were photographed no more than an arm’s length away from a mutilated corpse. These photos were often turned into grisly postcards that continued to circulate even after Congress made it illegal to mail them.

A particularly vivid lynching postcard depicts the charred and partially dismembered corpse of Jesse Washington, who was burned before a crowd of thousands in Waco, Tex., in 1916.

The card, which appears to have been written by a white spectator to his parents, is signed “your son Joe.” He refers to the horrific murder — in which the victim’s ears, fingers and sexual organs were severed — as the “barbecue we had last night.” He identifies himself in the crowd by placing a mark in ink about his head.

By permitting images like this one to move through the mail at all, the government tacitly endorsed lynching, along with the presumption that African-Americans were less than human. The mailings also aided a propaganda campaign that was intended to terrorize the black population in the nation as a whole, not just in the South.

Joe from Waco is no doubt long dead. But many of the people who attended lynchings as children in the 1930’s and 40’s must be still alive and walking the streets of the principal states of the lynching belt. They include Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, all of which voted against the first black president.

The nearness of the past was fully evident not long ago in Atlanta, when the collectors James Allen and John Littlefield were trying to mount an exhibition of lynching images that had drawn a huge audience and international attention when shown at the New-York Historical Society’s “Without Sanctuary” exhibition of 2000.

Influential Atlantans equivocated. As a person familiar with the issue told me recently: “There were concerns that people in crowds were still alive. And of course, family members and relatives of those people might come in and have to say, ‘That’s my dad’ or ‘That’s my mom.’ ”

“Without Sanctuary” was shown in Atlanta in 2002 at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and drew more than 175,000 people, three times as many as viewed it in New York. But the tension surrounding the exhibition made it seem unlikely that the images and the accompanying documents would find a permanent home in Georgia or any other lynching belt state.

So it came as a surprise earlier this year when the collection was acquired by Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, an ambitious cultural and historical institution that has yet to break ground for its building and plans to open in 2011. The center aspires to emulate the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in method, linking the civil rights movement to national and international issues of the day.

The notion of housing the lynching material in the same institution as, say, Martin Luther King’s sermons and speeches strikes some as jarring. But this is just as it should be. The civil rights movement can only be properly understood in the context of the reign of terror that gripped black Southerners.

The victims of those public hangings and burnings were sometimes accused of crimes. But they were often guilty of nothing more than seeking the right to vote, speaking truth to white power. Black business owners who challenged white supremacy in the marketplace were favorite targets.

The victims were sometimes killed after they had been marched through the black section of town — with a stop at the school for the colored — and fully exploited as a testament to black powerlessness. Lynching, in other words, was a method of social control.

When visitors to the Center for Civil and Human Rights confront these realities, they will know what the civil rights pioneers faced — and what they feared — when they took those first, perilous steps along the path to freedom.


Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie were murdered on June 15, 1920 in Duluth,  Minnesota. The Duluth memorial has been described by its artist as attempting to “reinvest [the victims] with their unique personalities”, to counteract the way the lynchings “depersonalized” them.

Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, lynched in Marion, Indiana on August 7, 1930. There would have been a third victim—–James Cameron—–if a white onlooker had not spoken out in his defense, and thereby saving his life from the lynch mob.

Laura Nelson.   (The barefoot corpse of Laura Nelson. May 25, 1911, Okemah, Oklahoma.
Gelatin silver print. Real photo postcard. 3 1/2 x 5 1/2″
Etched in the negative:”copyright-1911-g.h.farnum, okemah. okla 2898.” Stamp on reverse, “unmailable.” Photographer: George H. Farnum, 1911.

This is the only known photo of a lynched black woman. Laura was murdered with her 14-year-old son Lawrence, after he was castrated by members of the mob, in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1911. She was raped by members of the mob, before she and her child were brutally murdered.

The lynching of Laura Nelson and her son, several dozen onlookers. May 25, 1911, Okemah, Oklahoma.
Gelatin silver print. Real photo postcard. 5 1/2 x 3 1/2″

Etched in the negative: “1911 copy right, g.h. farnum, okemah. okla\ 2897.”

The lynching of Lawrence W. Nelson, May 25, 1911 in Okemah, Oklahoma. Gelatin silver print. Real photo postcard. 3 1/2 x 5 1/2. Etched in the negative: “copyright-1911-g.h.farnum, okemah. okla 2894.” Photo by George H. Farnum. The image was published in 1911 as a postcard.

Here is a  partial list of known murdered lynch martyrs:

Name Date Location Notes
ALBANO, Angelo 1910 Florida [Source: "American Lynching"]
ALLEN, Rich 29 June 1905 Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
ALLEN, Tom June 1911 Walton County, Georgia While returning to Walton County to stand trial for allegedly raping a white woman, a group of men hung Tom from a telegraph pole and shot him. [Source: Fire in a Canebrake]
ANDERSON, Winston April 1878 Clarkesville, Tennessee Winston was lynched for attempting rape. [Source: The Daily Constitution , Atlanta, Georgia, 17 Apr 1878]
ARGO, Henry 1930 Chickasha, Oklahoma [Source: "American Lynching"]
AYCOCK, Lon J. 29 June 1905 Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
BAKER, Frazier 22 February 1898 Lake City, South Carolina -
BAKER, Julia 22 February 1898 Lake City, South Carolina -
BARKSDALE, Heyward “Monk” May 1893 Laurens, South Carolina Supposed crime: attempted rape. [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 11 May 1893]
BAZEMORE, Peter 26 March 1918 Lewiston, North Carolina Peter allegedly attacked a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
BEST, Walter 23 February 1918 Fairfax, South Carolina Walter was hanged. He was accused of murder. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
BLACK, William January 1890 Barnwell County, South Carolina Supposed crime: stealing. [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 12 Jan 1890]
BOYD, General 1913 Walton County, Georgia General was lynched for allegedly entering a white woman’s room at night. [Source: Fire in a Canebrake]
BROWN, Gene 27 July 1918 Ben Hur, Texas Gene was hanged for an alleged assault on a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
BUSH, Samuel June 1893 Decatur, Illinois Supposed crime: Assault on a white woman. [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 4 June 1893]
BYRD, James Jr. June 1998 Jasper, Texas James was chained to the bumper of a truck and dragged to his death.
CABINESS, Bessie 4 June 1918 Huntsville, Walker County, Texas Sarah and her six children (George, Peter, Cute, Tenola, Thomas, and Bessie) were shot because of an alleged threat made by George Cabiness to A. P. W. Allen. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles." For more information, click here.]
CABINESS, Cute 4 June 1918 Huntsville, Walker County, Texas Sarah and her six children (George, Peter, Cute, Tenola, Thomas, and Bessie) were shot because of an alleged threat made by George Cabiness to A. P. W. Allen. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles." For more information, click here.]
CABINESS, George 4 June 1918 Huntsville, Walker County, Texas Sarah and her six children (George, Peter, Cute, Tenola, Thomas, and Bessie) were shot because of an alleged threat made by George Cabiness to A. P. W. Allen. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles." For more information, click here.]
CABINESS, Peter 4 June 1918 Huntsville, Walker County, Texas Sarah and her six children (George, Peter, Cute, Tenola, Thomas, and Bessie) were shot because of an alleged threat made by George Cabiness to A. P. W. Allen. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles." For more information, click here.]
CABINESS, Sarah 4 June 1918 Huntsville, Walker County, Texas Sarah and her six children (George, Peter, Cute, Tenola, Thomas, and Bessie) were shot because of an alleged threat made by George Cabiness to A. P. W. Allen. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles." For more information, click here.]
CABINESS, Tenola 4 June 1918 Huntsville, Walker County, Texas Sarah and her six children (George, Peter, Cute, Tenola, Thomas, and Bessie) were shot because of an alleged threat made by George Cabiness to A. P. W. Allen. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles." For more information, click here.]
CABINESS, Thomas 4 June 1918 Huntsville, Walker County, Texas Sarah and her six children (George, Peter, Cute, Tenola, Thomas, and Bessie) were shot because of an alleged threat made by George Cabiness to A. P. W. Allen. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles." For more information, click here.]
CALHOUN, John 25 May 1918 Barnesville, Georgia John was shot for the alleged murder of John A. Willis. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
CARROLL, James April 1879 Frederick, Maryland The Daily Constitution , Atlanta, Georgia, 22 Apr 1879: “The jury of inquest upon the lynching of the negro, James Carroll, returned a verdict that he was hanged by men unknown to the jury.”
CLARKE, Andrew 21 December 1918 Shubuta, Mississippi Major Clarke and his brother Andrew, as well as Maggie and Alma House were hanged for the murder of Dr. E. L. Johnston. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
CLARKE, Major 21 December 1918 Shubuta, Mississippi Major and his brother Andrew, as well as Maggie and Alma House were hanged for the murder of Dr. E. L. Johnston. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
CLAYTON, Elias June 1920 Duluth, Minnesota -
CLAYTON, George 18 June 1918 Mangham, Louisiana George was hanged for the murder of his employer, Ben Brooks. In a battle with the posse George wounded six men, probably fatally. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
COBB, James 23 May 1918 Cordele, Georgia James was hanged for the alleged murder of Mrs. Roy Simmons. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
COSBY, “Bud” 7 February 1918 Fayetteville, Georgia Bud was hanged for intent to rob and kidnapping. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
CRAWFORD, Anthony P. October 1916 Abbeville, South Carolina [Source: Men and Violence: Gender, Honor, and Rituals in Modern Europe and America, edited by Pieter Spierenburg]
CZERICH, Warren 3 September 1918 San Pedro, California Supposed crime: murder. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
DANSY, Ed. February 26, 1918 Willacoochee, Georgia Mr. Dansy was shot. He had killed two white officers and wounded three others. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
DAVIS, Dan 1912 - [Source: "American Lynching"]
DEVERT, Thomas 20 May 1918 Erwin, Tennessee Thomas was shot and burned for the alleged murder of a white girl. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
DUKES, Bill 15 August 1918 Nachez, Mississippi Bill was shot to death. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
EARLE, Willie abt 1947 Greenville, South Carolina [Source: Fire in a Canebrake]
EBERHART, Lee February 1921 Athens, Clarke County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
EDWARDS, Sam 17 January 1918 Hazelhurst, Mississippi Sam was burned to death. He was charged with murder of Bera Willes, 17 year old white girl. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
ELDER, Claude 29 June 1905 Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
EVANS, Spencer 22 March 1918 Crawfordville, Georgia Spencer was hanged. He was convicted of criminal assault upon a colored woman at the February term of court and sentenced to be hanged, but a mob took him from jail and lynched him. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
FICARROTTA, Castenge 1910 Florida [Source: "American Lynching"]
FRANK, Leo 1915 Atlanta, Georgia Click here for more information. [Sources: The Encyclopedia of American Crime, "American Lynching"]
GILHAM, John 15 August 1918 Macon, Bibb County, Georgia John was hanged for an alleged attack on two white women. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
GILLENWATERS, Jimmy 1912 Bowling Green, Kentucky -
GOODMAN, Gus 4 November 1905 Bainbridge, Georgia [Source: "American Lynching"]
GOOLSIE, Kirby 4 June 1918 Beaumont, Texas Kirby was hanged for an alleged attack on a white girl. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
GOTO, Katsu 1889 Hanokaa, Hawaii [Source: "American Lynching"]
HALE, West 4 December 1921 Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
HALL, “Bubber” 7 August 1918 Bastrop, Louisiana Bubber was hanged for an alleged attack on a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
HALL, Robert 1943 Baker County, Georgia Robert was beaten to death with a blackjack. [Source: Fire in a Canebrake]
HARDEMANN, Frank 16 October 1900 Wellston, Houston County, Georgia Supposed crime: assaulting Mrs. B. H. Pierson, the wife of a Baptist preacher. [Source: The New York Times; Article Transcription]
HARMON, Jim 1890 Walton County, Georgia Jim was shot to death for allegedly putting his hand on a white woman’s face while she slept; his body sunk to the bottom of a pond. [Source: Fire in a Canebrake]
HARRIS, Bob 29 June 1905 Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
HEAD, Will 17 May 1918 Valdosta, Georgia Will, along with Will Thompson, Hayes Turner, Mary Turner, Sydney Johnson, Eugene Rice, Chime Riley, Simon Schuman, and three unidentified negroes were hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of Hampton Smith. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
HICKORY, Richard June 1884 New Lexington, Ohio [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 18 Jun 1884]
HOSE, Sam 1899 Newnan / Atlanta, Georgia Sam was hung and burned to death. Afterwards, men came at him with knives. [Sources: Fire in a Canebrake, "American Lynching"]
HOUSE, Alma 21 December 1918 Shubuta, Mississippi Major Clarke and his brother Andrew, as well as Maggie and Alma House were hanged for the murder of Dr. E. L. Johnston. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
HOUSE, Maggie 21 December 1918 Shubuta, Mississippi Major Clarke and his brother Andrew, as well as Maggie and Alma House were hanged for the murder of Dr. E. L. Johnston. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
HUDSON, Jim 26 January 1918 Benton, Louisiana Jim was hanged for living with a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
JACKSON, Elmer June 1920 Duluth, Minnesota -
JACKSON, Henry 22 May 1918 Miami, Florida Henry was hanged for throwing a white man underneath a train. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
JENKINS, John 1851 San Francisco [Source: "American Lynching"]
JOHNSON, Ed 1906 Tennessee [Source: "American Lynching"]
JOHNSON, Henry abt December 1890 Central, Pickens County, South Carolina Supposed crime: “outrage” committed on white woman. [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 4 Dec 1890]
JOHNSON, Sydney 17 May 1918 Valdosta, Georgia Sydney, along with Will Head, Will Thompson, Hayes Turner, Mary Turner, Eugene Rice, Chime Riley, Simon Schuman, and three unidentified negroes were hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of Hampton Smith. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
JOINER, Saxe 1865 - [Source: "American Lynching"]
JONES, Jim 26 February 1918 Rayville, Louisiana Jim, along with Jim Lewis and Will Powell, were accused of stealing hogs. Two were hanged and one shot to death. One white man and one negro were killed in the exchange of shots. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
LEAPHEART, Mr. May 1890 Lexington, South Carolina [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 13 May 1890]
LEWIS, Charles 16 December 1918 Hickman, Kentucky Charles was hanged for allegedly beating Deputy Sheriff Thomas. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
LEWIS, Jim 26 February 1918 Rayville, Louisiana Jim, along with Jim Jones and Will Powell, were accused of stealing hogs. Two were hanged and one shot to death. One white man and one negro were killed in the exchange of shots. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
LOWE, George 4 December 1921 Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
MAXWELL, Ed November 1881 Wisconsin The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 22 Nov 1881: “The Wisconsin mob seems to have a penchant for anticipating the law just as well developed as if it were located in Louisiana. The lynching of Ed. Maxwell was neatly and expeditiously accomplished.”
MCGHIE, Isaac June 1920 Duluth, Minnesota -
MCGILL, L. 29 June 1918 Madill, Oklahoma McGill was hanged for an alleged attack upon a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
MCGOWAN, Wilder November 1938 Wiggins, Mississippi Wilder was hanged for the rape and robbery of a 74 year old white woman. [Source: Men and Violence: Gender, Honor, and Rituals in Modern Europe and America, edited by Pieter Spierenburg]
MCILLHERON, Jim 12 February 1918 Estill Springs, Tennessee Jim was burned. He was accused of shooting to death two white men. G. W. Lych, who hid McIllheron, was shot to death. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
MCMANUS, Frank 1882 Minneapolis [Source: "American Lynching"]
MCNEEL, Georgia 16 March 1918 Monroe, Louisiana Georgia and John Richards were hanged for an alleged attack upon a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
MCTATIE, Leon 30 July 1945 Lexington, Mississippi Leon was flogged to death for allegedly stealing a saddle. [Source: Fire in a Canebrake]
MITCHELL, Allen 18 June 1918 Earle, Arkansas Allen was hanged for wounding Mrs. W. M. Langston. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
MORALES, David Rivas 19 Jun 2007 Austin, Texas An angry crowd beat a man to death after a vehicle he was riding in struck and injured a young girl…The little girl was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
MORGAN, Dudley 22 May 1902 Longview, Gregg County, Texas Dudley was tortured and burned alive at a stake. He was accused of physically assaulting a white woman.
NEAL, Claude 1934 Jackson County, Florida -
NOYES, Berry 22 April 1918 Lexington, Kentucky Berry was hanged for the murder of Sheriff W. E. McBride. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
O’NEAL, Obe 18 September 1918 Buff Lake, Texas Supposed crime: shot and wounded a white man. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
PARKER, Mack Charles 1959 Poplarville, Mississippi [Source: "American Lynching"]
PERSON, Ell May 1917 Memphis, Tennessee [Source: "Tennessee Encyclopedia"]
POPE, Henry abt May 1888 Summerville, Chattooga County, Georgia Henry was tried and convicted of rape, but was granted a respite by Gov. Gordon. Apparently, this did not sit well with some people. Henry was lynched. [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 2 May 1888]
POWELL, Will 26 February 1918 Rayville, Louisiana Will, along with Jim Lewis and Jim Jones, were accused of stealing hogs. Two were hanged and one shot to death. One white man and one negro were killed in the exchange of shots. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
PRAEGER, Robert P. 4 April 1918 Collinsville, Illinois Robert was hanged. He was accused of making disloyal remarks. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
PRICE, Sandy 29 June 1905 Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
PUCKETT, Richard 1913 Laurens, South Carolina -
RADNEY, Ike 11 August 1918 Colquit, Georgia [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
REEVES, Sandy 24 September 1918 Waycross, Georgia Sandy was hanged for an alleged assault on a white girl. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
RICE, Eugene 17 May 1918 Valdosta, Georgia Eugene, along with Will Head, Will Thompson, Hayes Turner, Mary Turner, Sydney Johnson, Chime Riley, Simon Schuman, and three unidentified negroes were hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of Hampton Smith. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
RICHARDS, John 16 March 1918 Monroe, Louisiana John and George McNeel were hanged for an alleged attack upon a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
RILEY, Chime 17 May 1918 Valdosta, Georgia Chime, along with Will Head, Will Thompson, Hayes Turner, Mary Turner, Sydney Johnson, Eugene Rice, Simon Schuman, and three unidentified negroes were hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of Hampton Smith. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
ROBINSON, Lewis 29 June 1905 Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
ROBINSON, Rich 29 June 1905 Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
ROBINSON, Willis 18 December 1918 Newport, Arkansas Willis was hanged for the murder of Patrolman Charles Williams. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
RODRIGUEZ, Antonio 1910 Rock Springs, Texas [Source: "American Lynching"]
SCHUMAN, Simon 17 May 1918 Valdosta, Georgia Simon, along with Will Head, Will Thompson, Hayes Turner, Mary Turner, Sydney Johnson, Eugene Rice, Chime Riley, and three unidentified negroes were hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of Hampton Smith. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
SHIPMAN, Charles 14 November 1918 Fort Bend County, Texas Supposed crime: disagreement with landowner. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
SHIPP, Thomas 7 August 1930 Marion, Indiana [Source: "American Lynching"]
SHORTER, William June 1893 Virginia Supposed crime: Attempted rape upon Mrs. Clevenger. [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 14 June 1893]
SINGLETON, Claud 20 April 1918 Poplarville, Mississippi Claud was hanged. He was accused of murdering a white man, and he had been sentenced to life imprisonment. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
SMITH, Abram 7 August 1930 Marion, Indiana [Source: "American Lynching"]
SMITH, Henry 1893 Paris, Texas [Source: "American Lynching"]
STACY, Rubin 19 July 1935 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida [Source: "American Lynching"]
SULLIVAN, William 23 May 1893 Corunna, Michigan Supposed crime: Murder of Layton Leech. [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 25 May 1893. Article Transcript]
TAYLOR, George 5 November 1918 Rolesville, North Carolina George was hanged for rape. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
THOMPSON, Allie 24 November 1918 Culpepper, Virginia Supposed crime: assaulting a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
THOMPSON, Will 17 May 1918 Valdosta, Georgia Will, along with Will Head, Hayes Turner, Mary Turner, Sydney Johnson, Eugene Rice, Chime Riley, Simon Schuman, and three unidentified negroes were hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of Hampton Smith. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
TILL, Emmett 1955 Greenwood, Mississippi [Source: "American Lynching"]
TURLEY, John May 1893 Bedford, Indiana Supposed crime: Murder of Conductor L. F. Price. [Source: The Atlanta Constitution , Georgia, 16 May 1893]
TURNER, Hayes 17 May 1918 Valdosta, Georgia Hayes, along with Will Head, Will Thompson, Mary Turner, Sydney Johnson, Eugene Rice, Chime Riley, Simon Schuman, and three unidentified negroes were hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of Hampton Smith. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
TURNER, Mary 17 May 1918 Valdosta, Georgia Mary, along with Will Head, Will Thompson, Hayes Turner, Sydney Johnson, Eugene Rice, Chime Riley, Simon Schuman, and three unidentified negroes were hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of Hampton Smith. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
VALENTINE, Edward 4 June 1918 Sanderson, Texas Supposed crime: murder. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
VINSON, William 13 July 1942 Texarkana, Texas [Source: Handbook of Texas Online]
WALKER, Henry 24 November 1879 Fort Valley, Georgia [Source: Georgia Black Book: Morbid, Macabre and Disgusting Records of Genealogical Value]
WALKER, Zachariah 1911 Coatesville, Pennsylvania [Source: "American Lynching"]
WAGNER, Frederick 28 August 1918 Hot Springs, Arkansas Supposed crime: disloyal utterances. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
WASH, Howard 1943 Laurel, Mississippi [Source: Fire in a Canebrake]
WASHINGTON, Jesse 1916 Waco, Texas [Source: "American Lynching"]
WATTS, Joe June 1911 Monroe, Walton County, Georgia A mob of men hung Joe from a tree and shot him. [Source: Fire in a Canebrake]
WHITESIDE, George 11 November 1918 Sheffield, Alabama George was hanged. He was charged with the murder of a policeman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
WILLIAMS, Clyde 22 April 1918 Monroe, Louisiana Clyde was hanged for shooting C. L. Thomas, a Missouri-Pacific station agent at Fawndale. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
WOMACK, John 22 May 1918 Red Level, Arkansas John was shot for an alleged assault on a white woman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
WOODSON, Edward 10 December 1918 Green River, Wyoming Edward was charged with killing a railroad switchman. [Source: The Crises, "Old Magazine Articles"]
WRIGHT, Cleo 1942 Sikeston, Missouri Cleo’s feet were tied to the back of a car, and he was drug through the city streets. Finally, he was burned to death. [Sources: Fire in a Canebrake, "American Lynching"]
YERBY, Gene 29 June 1905 Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia [Source: "Bloody Injuries" by Professor Wilkes, University of Georgia]
Black Victims of White Lynch Mobs by State, 1882-1930




Alabama to Louisiana
Maryland to Wyoming

This site is dedicated to all the men, women and children that suffered these atrocities. May they never be forgotten.

From 1865 to 1965 more than 6,000 African-Americans died in racial violence in the United States.

This inventory includes the names of 2,400 of the African-Americans who were lynched in the United States from 1865 to 1965.

The inventory is necessarily incomplete. Records are scant. Newspaper reports are scattered. The Tuskegee Institute Lynching Inventory began in 1882 — just before the great surge of lynchings that occurred around the turn of the century — a surge that accompanied the American conquest of the Philippines, defeating the colored fighters of the Philippine War of Independence, called by Anglo-American historians “The Philippine Insurrection.”

This inventory is offered in the spirit of healing and reconciliation, for until the wounds of the Lynching Century are healed there is little chance of reducing the ever so pervasive racism in the United States, as Ida B. Wells put it: The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Americans have a long way to go to see full realization of the promises of the Pledge of Allegiance, to see America as a land with Liberty and Justice for All instead of liberty and justice for the white Anglo-Saxon economic elite.


 Here is a partial list from The Lynching Calendar site of lynched victims from the year 1911:


1 unidentified black woman and her 3 children murdered Rayne Louisiana January 1911

45 unidentified blacks murdered Rayne Louisiana January 1911

1 unidentified black man murdered Benton Arkansas January 14 1911

Gene Marshall lynched Shelbyville Kentucky January 15 1911

Wade Patterson lynched Shelbyville Kentucky January 15 1911

James West lynched Shelbyville Kentucky January 15 1911

Oval Poulson lynched Opelousas Louisiana January 20 1911

William Johnson lynched N/A Georgia January 22 1911

Iver Peterson lynched Eufala Alabama February 12 1911

Robert Jones lynched Augusta Georgia February 25 1911

John Vease lynched Augusta Georgia February 25 1911

3 members of Crowley family murdered Crowley Louisiana February 1911

4 members unidentified black family murdered Lafayette Louisiana March 1911

Galvin Baker lynched Marianna Florida March 5 1911

5 members of Cassaway family murdered San Antonio Texas April 1911

1 unidentified black man lynched Union Springs Alabama April 2 1911

Charles Hale lynched Lawrenceville Georgia April 7 1911

Dawson Jordan lynched Ellaville Georgia April 8 1911

Charles Pickett lynched Ellaville Georgia April 8 1911

Murray Burton lynched Ellaville Georgia April 8 1911

William Potter lynched Livermore Kentucky April 21 1911

John McLeod lynched Swainsboro Georgia May 18 1911

N/A Norris lynched Lake City Florida May 21 1911

5 unidentified black men lynched Lake City Florida May 21 1911

Benjamin Smith lynched Swainsboro Georgia May 21 1911

Joseph Moore lynched Crawfordsville Georgia May 22 1911

1 unidentified black woman and her son age 15 lynched Okemah Oklahoma May 25 1911 (Laura Nelson and her son, L.D.)

James Sweet lynched Gallatin Tennessee May 25 1911

Patrick Crump lynched White Haven Tennessee June 1 1911

John Winston lynched Lafayette Tennessee June 8 1911

William Bradford lynched Chunky Mississippi June 16 1911

Thomas Allen lynched Monroe Georgia June 30 1911

Foser Watts lynched Monroe Georgia June 30 1911

William McGroff lynched Baconton Georgia July 11 1911

Miles Taylor lynched Claibourne Par Louisiana July 24 1911

Samuel Verge lynched Demopolis Alabama August 4 1911

“Commodore” Jones lynched Farmersville Texas August 12 1911

Zacariah Walker lynched Coatesville Pennsylvania August 13 1911

1 unidentified black man lynched Durant Oklahoma August 18 1911

Peter Carter lynched Purcell Oklahoma August 24 1911

Peter Davis lynched Ft. Gaines Georgia August 29 1911

1 unidentified black man lynched Clayton Alabama August 30 1911

Arthur Dean lynched Augusta Arkansas September 9 1911

Walter Byrd lynched Winnsboro Louisiana September 15 1911

1 unidentified black man lynched Dublin Georgia October 5 1911

Willis Jackson lynched Greenville S. Carolina October 10 1911

Andrew Chapwan lynched N/A Georgia October 11 1911

A.B. Richardson lynched Caruthersville Missouri October 11 1911

Benjamin Woods lynched Caruthersville Missouri October 11 1911

Nathan Lucy lynched Forrest City Arkansas October 16 1911

Terry Lovelace lynched Manchester Georgia October 19 1911

Charles Lewis lynched Hope Arkansas October 20 1911

Edward Suddeth lynched Corneta Oklahoma October 22 1911

T. W. Walker lynched Washington Georgia October 28 1911

1 unidentified black man lynched Marshall Texas October 29 1911

Honea Path lynched Anderson S. Carolina November 1911

“Judge” Moseley lynched Lockhart Mississippi November 7 1911

William Nixon lynched Delhi Louisiana November 8 1911

Riley Johnson lynched Clarksville Texas November 8 1911

Norbert Randall murdered Lafayette Louisiana November 26 1911

2 unidentified black men murdered Mannford Oklahoma December 3 1911

Bud Walker lynched Mannford Oklahoma December 3 1911

Ben Pettigrew and 2 daughters lynched Clifton Tennessee December 6 1911

John Warren lynched Donald Georgia December 21 1911

King Davis lynched Brooklyn Maryland December 25 1911

The Reasons Given for Black Lynchings

  • Acting suspiciously
  • Gambling
  • Quarreling
  • Adultery
  • Grave robbing
  • Race hatred; Race troubles
  • Aiding murderer
  • Improper with white woman
  • Rape
  • Arguing with white man
  • Incest
  • Rape-murders
  • Arson Inciting to riot
  • Resisting mob
  • Assassination
  • Inciting trouble
  • Robbery
  • Attempted murder
  • Indolence
  • Running a bordello
  • Banditry
  • Inflammatory language
  • Sedition
  • Being disreputable
  • Informing
  • Slander
  • Being obnoxious
  • Injuring livestock
  • Spreading disease

(Post revised on April 28, 2010)


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#1 R&B Song 1978:   “Le Freak,” Chic


Born:   Little Esther Phillips (Esther May Jones), 1935; Eugene Richard (the Chi-Lites), 1940



1955   The Five Keys and The Turbans tore the house down at Dr. Jive’s Brooklyn Paramount Christmas show.


1957   Sam Cooke charted with “Ill Come Running Back to You,” his second #1 R&B hit in two tries. Cooke was the father of Linda Womack of the duo Womack & Womack. Cooke originally recorded under the name Dale Cooke so as not to offend the spirited audience he sang to as a member of the gospel group the Soul Stirrers.


1959   Chuck Berry was arrested and charged with violating the Mann Act after he took a fourteen-year-old Apache Indian to work as a hat-check girl in the nightclub he owned in St. Louis. The arrest was predicated on the police position that he had transported a minor across a state line for immoral purposes. When Berry fired her, believing she was working as a prostitute, she reported him to the police. He was initially convicted and sentenced to the maximum of five years in jail, and fined $2,000. Due to racist comments by a judge, however, Berry was freed before he could be retried.


1960   The Brooklyn Paramount kicked off its annual Christmas rock ‘n’ roll shows, which ran through January 3. Among the sixteen acts appearing were Chubby Checker, the Drifters, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, Little Anthony & the Imperials, the Shirelles, the Coasters, and the Blue Notes.


1976   Adding his name to the long list of performers who couldn’t keep a handle on their finances, Isaac Hayes filed for bankruptcy, with debts ranging from $6 million to $9 million.


1978   Chic’s C’est Chic album, one of the albums that defined the disco age, reached #4.



1991   British TV’s BBC2 aired Christmas in Vienna, a special featuring Diana Ross and Placido Domingo, from the Vienna City Hall.


1998   Cissy Houston, Roberta Flack, and Phoebe Snow backed Darlene Love as she did her yearly rendition of the immortal Phil Spector record “Christmas (Baby Plase Come Home)” on David Letterman’s CBS-TV show.

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#1 R&B Song 1973:   “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me),” the Staple Singers


Born:   Lillian “Lil”  Green, 1919



1956   Mickey & Sylvia charted with their rock ‘n’ roll classic “Love Is Strange,” reaching #1 R&B and #11 pop. Mickey “Guitar” Baker went on to become a higly sought-after session musician while Sylvia Robinson-Vanderpool had a dozen hits in the ’70s and ’80s, including the #1 “Pillow Talk.”  (Sylvia Robinson was something of an entrepreneur in her own rights, as well as an excellent guitarist. Her guitar skills, were very impressive, as she is the one playing lead guitar on this song. She owned several labels in the seventies including Stang and All Platinum, but most famously Sugar Hill Records, the first rap label, and she also wrote many of the songs recorded on the labels, including co-writing “The Message”. Sylvia is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest female entrepreneur in rock and roll history!)


1961   New York disc jockey Murray the K Kaufman hosted the Brooklyn Paramount’s Christmas show featuring Johnny Mathis, the Isley Brothers, the Crystals, the Chantels, the Vibrations, Bobby Lewis, Gary “U.S.” Bonds, and the most soulful white girl of the times, Timi Yuro.


1961   The teen film Twist Around the Clock, featuring Chubby Checker & the Marcels, opened nationally.


1963   Scheduled for an earlier release but helpd up due to the assassination of President Kennedy, Darlene Love’s epic Christmas classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” was finally issued. Background vocals on rock’s greatest holiday recording were by the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Cher.



1966   Otis Redding performed at San Francisco at san Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium.

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Katrina’s Hidden Race War

By A.C. Thompson

This article appeared in the January 5, 2009 edition of The Nation.

December 17, 2008



A.C. Thompson’s reporting on New Orleans was directed and underwritten by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. ProPublica provided additional support, as did the Center for Investigative Reporting and New America Media.

A vigilante shot Donnell Herrington twice shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. CHANDRA MCCORMICK AND KEITH CALHOUN


A vigilante shot Donnell Herrington twice shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.


The way Donnell Herrington tells it, there was no warning. One second he was trudging through the heat. The next he was lying prostrate on the pavement, his life spilling out of a hole in his throat, his body racked with pain, his vision blurred and distorted.



The Nation Institute : Both the perpetrators and victims of violent attacks in the wake of Hurricane Katrina share their stories in vivid detail.
A.C. Thompson: Rep. John Conyers expressed concern and a California activist group called for investigations of vigilante violence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Body of Evidence

    It was September 1, 2005, some three days after Hurricane Katrina crashed into New Orleans, and somebody had just blasted Herrington, who is African-American, with a shotgun. “I just hit the ground. I didn’t even know what happened,” recalls Herrington, a burly 32-year-old with a soft drawl.


    The sudden eruption of gunfire horrified Herrington’s companions–his cousin Marcel Alexander, then 17, and friend Chris Collins, then 18, who are also black. “I looked at Donnell and he had this big old hole in his neck,” Alexander recalls. “I tried to help him up, and they started shooting again.” Herrington says he was staggering to his feet when a second shotgun blast struck him from behind; the spray of lead pellets also caught Collins and Alexander. The buckshot peppered Alexander’s back, arm and buttocks.


    Herrington shouted at the other men to run and turned to face his attackers: three armed white males. Herrington says he hadn’t even seen the men or their weapons before the shooting began. As Alexander and Collins fled, Herrington ran in the opposite direction, his hand pressed to the bleeding wound on his throat. Behind him, he says, the gunmen yelled, “Get him! Get that nigger!”


    The attack occurred in Algiers Point. The Point, as locals call it, is a neighborhood within a neighborhood, a small cluster of ornate, immaculately maintained 150-year-old houses within the larger Algiers district. A nationally recognized historic area, Algiers Point is largely white, while the rest of Algiers is predominantly black. It’s a “white enclave” whose residents have “a kind of siege mentality,” says Tulane University historian Lance Hill, noting that some white New Orleanians “think of themselves as an oppressed minority.”

    A wide street lined with towering trees, Opelousas Avenue marks the dividing line between Algiers Point and greater Algiers, and the difference in wealth between the two areas is immediately noticeable. “On one side of Opelousas it’s ‘hood, on the other side it’s suburbs,” says one local. “The two sides are totally opposite, like muddy and clean.”


    Algiers Point has always been somewhat isolated: it’s perched on the west bank of the Mississippi River, linked to the core of the city only by a ferry line and twin gray steel bridges. When the hurricane descended on Louisiana, Algiers Point got off relatively easy.


    While wide swaths of New Orleans were deluged, the levees ringing Algiers Point withstood the Mississippi’s surging currents, preventing flooding; most homes and businesses in the area survived intact. As word spread that the area was dry, desperate people began heading toward the west bank, some walking over bridges, others traveling by boat. The National Guard soon designated the Algiers Point ferry landing an official evacuation site. Rescuers from the Coast Guard and other agencies brought flood victims to the ferry terminal, where soldiers loaded them onto buses headed for Texas.


    Facing an influx of refugees, the residents of Algiers Point could have pulled together food, water and medical supplies for the flood victims. Instead, a group of white residents, convinced that crime would arrive with the human exodus, sought to seal off the area, blocking the roads in and out of the neighborhood by dragging lumber and downed trees into the streets. They stockpiled handguns, assault rifles, shotguns and at least one Uzi and began patrolling the streets in pickup trucks and SUVs. The newly formed militia, a loose band of about fifteen to thirty residents, most of them men, all of them white, was looking for thieves, outlaws or, as one member put it, anyone who simply “didn’t belong.”


    The existence of this little army isn’t a secret–in 2005 a few newspaper reporters wrote up the group’s activities in glowing terms in articles that showed up on an array of pro-gun blogs; one Cox News story called it “the ultimate neighborhood watch.” Herrington, for his part, recounted his ordeal in Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke. But until now no one has ever seriously scrutinized what happened in Algiers Point during those days, and nobody has asked the obvious questions. Were the gunmen, as they claim, just trying to fend off looters? Or does Herrington’s experience point to a different, far uglier truth?


    Over the course of an eighteen-month investigation, I tracked down figures on all sides of the gunfire, speaking with the shooters of Algiers Point, gunshot survivors and those who witnessed the bloodshed. I interviewed police officers, forensic pathologists, firefighters, historians, medical doctors and private citizens, and studied more than 800 autopsies and piles of state death records. What emerged was a disturbing picture of New Orleans in the days after the storm, when the city fractured along racial fault lines as its government collapsed.


    Herrington, Collins and Alexander’s experience fits into a broader pattern of violence in which, evidence indicates, at least eleven people were shot. In each case the targets were African-American men, while the shooters, it appears, were all white.


    The new information should reframe our understanding of the catastrophe. Immediately after the storm, the media portrayed African-Americans as looters and thugs–Mayor Ray Nagin, for example, told Oprah Winfrey that “hundreds of gang members” were marauding through the Superdome. Now it’s clear that some of the most serious crimes committed during that time were the work of gun-toting white males.


    So far, their crimes have gone unpunished. No one was ever arrested for shooting Herrington, Alexander and Collins–in fact, there was never an investigation. I found this story repeated over and over during my days in New Orleans. As a reporter who has spent more than a decade covering crime, I was startled to meet so many people with so much detailed information about potentially serious offenses, none of whom had ever been interviewed by police detectives.


    Hill, who runs Tulane’s Southern Institute for Education and Research and closely follows the city’s racial dynamics, isn’t surprised the Algiers Point gunmen have eluded arrest.


    Because of the widespread notion that blacks engaged in looting and thuggery as the disaster unfolded, Hill believes, many white New Orleanians approved of the vigilante activity that occurred in places like Algiers Point. “By and large, I think the white mentality is that these people are exempt–that even if they committed these crimes, they’re really exempt from any kind of legal repercussion,” Hill tells me. “It’s sad to say, but I think that if any of these cases went to trial, and none of them have, I can’t see a white person being convicted of any kind of crime against an African-American during that period.”

    You can trace the origins of the Algiers Point militia to the misfortune of Vinnie Pervel. A 52-year-old building contractor and real estate entrepreneur with a graying buzz cut and mustache, Pervel says he lost his Ford van in a carjacking the day after Katrina made landfall, when an African-American man attacked him with a hammer. “The kid whacked me,” recalls Pervel, who is white. “Hit me on the side of the head.” Vowing to prevent further robberies, Pervel and his neighbors began amassing an arsenal. “For a day and a half we were running around getting guns,” he says. “We got about forty.”


    Things quickly got ugly. Pervel remembers aiming a shotgun at a random African-American man walking by his home–even though he knew the man had no connection to the theft of his vehicle. “I don’t want you passing by my house!” Pervel says he shouted out.


    Pervel tells me he feared goons would kill his mother, who is in her 70s. “We thought we would be dead,” he says. “We thought we were doomed.” And so Pervel and his comrades set about fortifying the area. One resident gave me video footage of the leafy barricades the men constructed to keep away outsiders. Others told me they created a low-tech alarm system, tying aluminum cans and glass bottles together and stringing them across the roads at ankle height. The bottles and cans would rattle noisily if somebody bumped into them, alerting the militia.


    Pervel and his armed neighbors point to the very real chaos that was engulfing the city and claim they had no other choice than to act as they did. They paint themselves as righteous defenders of property, a paramilitary formation protecting their neighborhood from opportunistic thieves. “I’m not a racist,” Pervel insists. “I’m a classist. I want to live around people who want the same things as me.”


    Nathan Roper, another vigilante, says he was unhappy that outsiders were disturbing his corner of New Orleans and that he was annoyed by the National Guard’s decision to use the Algiers Point ferry landing as an evacuation zone. “I’m telling you, it was forty, fifty people at a time getting off these boats,” says Roper, who is in his 50s and works for ServiceMaster, a house-cleaning company. The storm victims were “hoodlums from the Lower Ninth Ward and that part of the city,” he says. “I’m not a prejudiced individual, but you just know the outlaws who are up to no good. You can see it in their eyes.”


    The militia, according to Roper, was armed with “handguns, rifles [and] shotguns”; he personally carried “a .38 in my waistband” and a “little Uzi.” “There was a few people who got shot around here,” Roper, a slim man with a weathered face, tells me. “I know of at least three people who got shot. I know one was dead ’cause he was on the side of the road.”

    During the summer of 2005 Herrington was working as an armored-car driver for the Brink’s company and living in a rented duplex about a mile from Algiers Point. Katrina thrashed the place, blowing out windows, pitching a hefty pine tree limb through the roof and dumping rain on Herrington’s possessions. On the day of the shooting, Herrington, Alexander and Collins were all trying to escape the stricken city, and set out together on foot for the Algiers Point ferry terminal in the hopes of getting on an evacuation bus.


    Those hopes were dashed by a barrage of shotgun pellets. After two shots erupted, Collins and Alexander took off running and ducked into a shed behind a house to hide from the gunmen, Alexander tells me. The armed men, he says, discovered them in the shed and jammed pistols in their faces, yelling, “We got you niggers! We got you niggers!” He continues, “They said they was gonna tie us up, put us in the back of the truck and burn us. They was gonna make us suffer…. I thought I was gonna die. I thought I was gonna leave earth.”


    Apparently thinking they’d caught some looters, the gunmen interrogated and verbally threatened Collins and Alexander for ten to fifteen minutes, Alexander says, before one of the armed men issued an ultimatum: if Alexander and Collins left Algiers Point and told their friends not to set foot in the area, they’d be allowed to live.


    Meanwhile, Herrington was staring at death. “I was bleeding pretty bad from my neck area,” he recalls. When two white men drove by in a black pickup truck, he begged them for help. “I said, Help me, help me–I’m shot,” Herrington recalls. The response, he tells me, was immediate and hostile. One of the men told Herrington, “Get away from this truck, nigger. We’re not gonna help you. We’re liable to kill you ourselves.” My God, thought Herrington, what’s going on out here?


    He managed to stumble back to a neighbor’s house, collapsing on the front porch. The neighbors, an African-American couple, wrapped him in a sheet and sped him to the nearest hospital, the West Jefferson Medical Center, where, medical records show, he was X-rayed at 3:30 pm. According to the records, a doctor who reviewed the X-rays found “metallic buckshot” scattered throughout his chest, arms, back and abdomen, as well as “at least seven [pellets] in the right neck.” Within minutes, Herrington was wheeled into an operating room for emergency surgery.


    “It was a close-range buckshot wound from a shotgun,” says Charles Thomas, one of the doctors who operated on Herrington. “If he hadn’t gotten to the hospital, he wouldn’t have lived. He had a hole in his internal jugular vein, and we were able to find it and fix it.”


    After three days in the hospital, which lacked running water, air conditioning and functional toilets, Herrington was shuttled to a medical facility in Baton Rouge. When he returned to New Orleans months later, he paid a visit to the Fourth District police station, whose officers patrol the west bank, and learned there was no police report documenting the attack. Herrington, who now has a wide scar stretching the length of his neck, says the officers he spoke with failed to take a report or check out his story, a fact that still bothers him. “If the shoe was on the other foot, if a black guy was willing to go out shooting white guys, the police would be up there real quick,” he says. “I feel these guys should definitely be held accountable. These guys had absolutely no right to do what they did.”


    Herrington, Alexander and Collins are the only victims, so far, to tell their stories. But they certainly weren’t the only ones attacked in or around Algiers Point. In interviews, vigilantes and residents–citing the exact locations and types of weapons used–detail a string of violent incidents in which at least eight other people were shot, bringing the total number of shooting victims to at least eleven, some of whom may have died.


    Other evidence bolsters this tally. Thomas, the surgeon who treated Herrington, staffed one of the few functioning trauma centers in the area, located just outside the New Orleans city line, not far from Algiers Point, for a full month after the hurricane hit. “We saw a bunch of gunshot wounds,” he tells me. “There were a lot of gunshot wounds that went unreported during that time.” Though Thomas couldn’t get into the specifics of the shooting incidents because of medical privacy laws, he says, “We saw a couple of other shotgun wounds, some handgun shootings and somebody who was shot with a high-velocity missile [an assault-rifle round].” The surgeon remembers handling “five or six nonfatal gunshot wounds” as well as three lethal gunshot cases.


    In addition, state death records show that at least four people died in and around Algiers Point, a suspicious number, given that most Katrina fatalities were the result of drowning, and that the community never flooded. Neighborhood residents, black and white, remember seeing corpses lying out in the open that appeared to have been shot.

    While the militia patrolled the streets of Algiers Point, the New Orleans Police Department, which had done little to brace for the storm, was crippled. “There was no leadership, no equipment, no nothing,” recalls one high-ranking police official. “We did no more to prepare for a hurricane than we would have for a thunderstorm.” Without functioning radios or dispatch systems, officers had no way of knowing what was happening a block away, let alone on the other side of the city. NOPD higher-ups had no way to give direction to unit commanders and other subordinates. As the chain of command disintegrated, the force dissolved into a collection of isolated, quasi-autonomous bands.


    Around Algiers Point people say they rarely saw cops during the week after Katrina tore through Louisiana, and in this law enforcement vacuum the militia’s unique brand of justice flourished. Most disturbing, one of the vigilantes, Roper, claims on videotape recorded just weeks after the storm that the shootings took place with the knowledge and consent of the police. When we talk he makes the same assertion: “The police said, If they’re breaking in your property do what you gotta do and leave them [the bodies] on the side of the road.”


    As we drive through Algiers Point in a battered white van, Roper tells me he witnessed a fatal shooting. Roper says he was talking on his cellphone to his son in Lafayette one evening when he spied an African-American man trying to get into Daigle’s Grocery, a corner market on the eastern edge of the neighborhood, which was shuttered because of the hurricane. Another militia member shot the man from a few feet away, killing him. “He was done,” Roper recalls.


    During our conversations, Roper never acknowledges firing his weapon, but in 2005 a Danish documentary crew videotaped him talking about his activities. In this footage Roper says, when pressed, that he did indeed shoot somebody.


    Fellow militia member Wayne Janak, 60, a carpenter and contractor, is more forthcoming with me. “Three people got shot in just one day!” he tells me, laughing. We’re sitting in his home, a boxy beige-and-pink structure on a corner about five blocks from Daigle’s Grocery. “Three of them got hit right here in this intersection with a riot gun,” he says, motioning toward the streets outside his home. Janak tells me he assumed the shooting victims, who were African-American, were looters because they were carrying sneakers and baseball caps with them. He guessed that the property had been stolen from a nearby shopping mall. According to Janak, a neighbor “unloaded a riot gun”–a shotgun–“on them. We chased them down.”


    Janak, who was carrying a pistol, says he grabbed one of the suspected looters and considered killing him, but decided to be merciful. “I rolled him over in the grass and saw that he’d been hit in the back with the riot gun,” he tells me. “I thought that was good enough. I said, ‘Go back to your neighborhood so people will know Algiers Point is not a place you go for a vacation. We’re not doing tours right now.'”


    He’s equally blunt in Welcome to New Orleans, an hourlong documentary produced by the Danish video team, who captured Janak, beer in hand, gloating about hunting humans.


    Surrounded by a crowd of sunburned white Algiers Point locals at a barbeque held not long after the hurricane, he smiles and tells the camera, “It was great! It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it.” A native of Chicago, Janak also boasts of becoming a true Southerner, saying, “I am no longer a Yankee. I earned my wings.” A white woman standing next to him adds, “He understands the N-word now.” In this neighborhood, she continues, “we take care of our own.”


    Janak, who says he’d been armed with two .38s and a shotgun, brags about keeping the bloody shirt worn by a shooting victim as a trophy. When “looters” showed up in the neighborhood, “they left full of buckshot,” he brags, adding, “You know what? Algiers Point is not a pussy community.”


    Within that community the gunmen enjoyed wide support. In an outtake from the documentary, a group of white Algiers Point residents gathers to celebrate the arrival of military troops sent to police the area. Addressing the crowd, one local praises the vigilantes for holding the neighborhood together until the Army Humvees trundled into town, noting that some of the militia figures are present at the party. “You all know who you are,” the man says. “And I’m proud of every one of you all.” Cheering and applause erupts from the assembled locals.


    Some of the gunmen prowling Algiers Point were out to wage a race war, says one woman whose uncle and two cousins joined the cause. A former New Orleanian, this source spoke to me anonymously because she fears her relatives could be prosecuted for their crimes. “My uncle was very excited that it was a free-for-all–white against black–that he could participate in,” says the woman. “For him, the opportunity to hunt black people was a joy.”


    “They didn’t want any of the ‘ghetto niggers’ coming over” from the east side of the river, she says, adding that her relatives viewed African-Americans who wandered into Algiers Point as “fair game.” One of her cousins, a young man in his 20s, sent an e-mail to her and several other family members describing his adventures with the militia. He had attached a photo in which he posed next to an African-American man who’d been fatally shot. The tone of the e-mail, she says, was “gleeful”–her cousin was happy that “they were shooting niggers.”

    An Algiers Point homeowner who wasn’t involved in the shootings describes another attack. “All I can tell you is what I saw,” says the white resident, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. He witnessed a barrage of gunfire–from a shotgun, an AK-47 and a handgun–directed by militiamen at two African-American men standing on Pelican Street, not too far from Janak’s place. The gunfire hit one of them. “I saw blood squirting out of his back,” he says. “I’m an EMT. My instinct should’ve been to rush to him. But I didn’t. And if I had, those guys”–the militiamen–“might have opened up on me, too.”


    The witness shows me a home video he recorded shortly after the storm. On the tape, three white Algiers Point men discuss the incident. One says it might be a bad idea to talk candidly about the crime. Another dismisses the notion, claiming, “No jury would convict.”


    According to Pervel, one of the shootings occurred just a few feet from his house. “Three young black men were walking down this street and they started moving the barricade,” he tells me. The men, he says, wanted to continue walking along the street, but Pervel’s neighbor, who was armed, commanded them to keep the barricade in place and leave. A standoff ensued until the neighbor shot one of the men, who then, according to Pervel, “ran a block and died” at the intersection of Alix and Vallette Streets.


    Even Pervel is surprised the shootings have generated so little scrutiny. “Aside from you, no one’s come around asking questions about this,” he says. “I’m surprised. If that was my son, I’d want to know who shot him.”


    By Pervel’s count, four people died violently in Algiers Point in the aftermath of the storm, including a bloody corpse left on Opelousas Avenue. That nameless body came up again and again in interviews, a grisly recurring motif. Who was he? How did he die? Nobody knew–or nobody would tell me.


    After hearing all these gruesome stories, I wonder if any of the militia figures I’ve interviewed were involved in the shooting of Herrington and company. In particular, Pervel’s and Janak’s anecdotes intrigue me, since both men discussed shooting incidents that sounded a lot like the crime that nearly killed Herrington and wounded Alexander and Collins. Both Pervel and Janak recounted incidents in which vigilantes confronted three black men.


    Hoping to solve the mystery, I show Herrington and Alexander video of Pervel, Janak and Roper, all of whom are in their 50s or 60s. No match. The shooters, Herrington and Alexander tell me, were younger men, in their 30s or 40s, sporting prominent tattoos. I have not been able to track them down.

    New Orleans, of course, is awash in tales of the horrible things that transpired in the wake of the hurricane–and many of these wild stories have turned out to be fictions. In researching the Algiers Point attacks, I relied on the accounts of people who witnessed shooting incidents or were directly involved, either as gunmen or shooting victims.


    Seeking to corroborate their stories, I sought out documentary evidence, including police files and autopsy reports. The NOPD, I was told, kept very few records during that period.


    Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard was a different story. The coroner, a flamboyant trumpet-playing doctor who has held the office for more than thirty years, had file cabinets bulging with the autopsies of hundreds of Katrina victims–he just wouldn’t let me see them, in defiance of Louisiana public records laws.


    After wrangling with the coroner for more than six months, I decided to sue–with a lawyer hired by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute–to get access to the autopsies. (We weren’t the first to take the coroner to court. CNN and the New Orleans Times-Picayune had successfully sued Minyard, seeking particular Katrina-related autopsies.) This past May, Orleans Parish district court judge Kern Reese ruled in our favor, ordering Minyard to allow me to review every autopsy done in the year after the storm. But I soon learned that reconstructing history from the coroner’s mess of files was next to impossible, because the paper trail is incomplete. “We carried the records around in our cars, in the trunks of our cars, for four months and, I mean, that–that was the coroner’s office,” Minyard said in a sworn deposition obtained during the course of our suit. “I’m sure some of the records got lost or misplaced.” Even the autopsy files we got were missing key facts, like where the bodies were found, who recovered them, when they were recovered and so forth.


    Many of the manila file folders the coroner eventually turned over were empty, and Minyard said he’d simply chosen not to autopsy some twenty-five to fifty corpses. The coroner also told us he didn’t know exactly how many people were shot to death in the days immediately after the storm–“I can’t even tell you how many gunshot victims we had”–but figured the number would not “be more than ten.”


    Under oath Minyard proceeded to say something stunning. The NOPD, he testified, was only investigating three gunshot cases, all of them high-profile–the Danziger Bridge incident, in which police killed two civilians, and the shooting of Danny Brumfield, who was slain by a cop in front of the Convention Center. Minyard’s statement buttressed information I’d gotten from NOPD sources who said the force has done little to prosecute people for assaults or murders committed in the wake of the storm.


    I contacted the police department repeatedly over many months, providing the NOPD with specific questions about each incident discussed in this story. The department, through spokesman Robert Young, declined to comment on whether officers had investigated any of these crimes and would not discuss any other issues raised by this article.


    Sifting through more than 800 autopsy reports and reams of state health department data, I quickly identified five New Orleanians who had died under suspicious circumstances: one, severely burned, was found in a charred abandoned auto (see “Body of Evidence,” page 19); three were shot; and another died of “blunt force trauma to the head.” However, it’s impossible to tell from the shoddy records whether any of these people died in or around Algiers Point, or even if their bodies were found there.


    No one has been arrested in connection with these suspicious deaths. When it comes to the lack of action on the cases, one well-placed NOPD source told me there was plenty of blame to go around. “We had a totally dysfunctional DA’s office,” he said. “The court system wasn’t much better. Everything was in disarray. A lot of stuff didn’t get prosecuted. There were a lot of things that were getting squashed. The UCR [uniform crime reports] don’t show anything.”


    In response to detailed queries made over a period of months, New Orleans District Attorney spokesman Dalton Savwoir declined to say whether prosecutors looked into any of the attacks I uncovered. The office has been through a string of leadership changes since Katrina–Leon Cannizaro is the current DA–and is struggling to deal with crimes that happened yesterday, let alone three years ago, Savwoir told me.


    James Traylor, a forensic pathologist with the Louisiana State University Health Center, worked alongside Minyard at the morgue and suspects that homicide victims fell through the cracks. “I know I did cases that were homicides,” Traylor says. “They were not suicides.” NOPD detectives, the doctor continues, never spoke to him about two cases he labeled homicides, leading him to believe police conducted no investigation into those deaths. “There should be a multi-agency task force–police, sheriffs, coroners–that can put their heads together and figure out what happened to people,” Traylor says.


    One of the suspicious cases I discovered was that of Willie Lawrence, a 47-year-old African-American male who suffered a “gunshot wound” that caused a “cranio-facial injury” and deposited two chunks of metal in his brain, according to the autopsy report. Minyard never determined whether Lawrence was murdered or committed suicide, choosing to leave the death unclassified. However, the dead man’s brother, Herbert Lawrence, who lives in Compton, California, believes his sibling was murdered. Herbert tells me he got a phone call from one of Willie’s neighbors shortly after he died. The caller said Willie, whose body, according to state records, was found on the east bank of the Mississippi, was killed by a civilian gunman. “The police didn’t do anything,” Herbert says, pointing out that NOPD officers didn’t create a written report or interview any relatives.

    Malik Rahim is one of a handful of African-Americans who live in Algiers Point, and as far as he’s concerned, “We are tolerated. We are not accepted.” In the days after the storm struck, Rahim says, the vigilantes “would pass by and call us all kind of names, say how they were gonna burn down my house.” They thought “all blacks was looting.”


    As he walked the near-deserted streets in that period, Rahim, 61, a former Black Panther with a mane of dreadlocks, came across several dead bodies of African-American men.


    Inspecting the bodies, he discovered what he took to be evidence of gunfire. “One guy had about his entire head shot off,” says Rahim, who was spurred by the storm to launch Common Ground Relief, a grassroots aid organization. “It’s pretty hard to think a person drowned when half their head’s been blown off,” he says. He thinks some of the gunmen saw Katrina as a “golden opportunity to rid the community of African-Americans.”


    Sitting at his kitchen table, while a noisy AC unit does its best to neutralize the stifling Louisiana heat, Rahim describes the dead and lists the locations where he found the bodies. He also shows me video footage taken days after the storm. On the tape, Rahim points to the grossly distended corpse of an African-American man lying on the ground.

    Rahim introduces me to his neighbor, Reggie Bell, 39, the African-American man Pervel confronted at gunpoint as he walked by Pervel’s house. At the time, Bell, a cook, lived just a few blocks down the street from Pervel. In Bell’s recollection, Pervel, standing with another gun-toting man, demanded to know what Bell was doing in Algiers Point. “I live here,” Bell replied. “I can show you mail.”


    That answer didn’t appease the gunmen, he says. According to Bell, Pervel told him, “Well, we don’t want you around here. You loot, we shoot.”


    Roughly twenty-four hours later, as Bell sat on his front porch grilling food, another batch of armed white men accosted him, intending to drive him from his home at gunpoint, he says. “Whatcha still doing around here?” they asked, according to Bell. “We don’t want you around here. You gotta go.”


    Bell tells me he was gripped by fear, panicked that he was about to experience ethnic cleansing, Louisiana-style. The armed men eventually left, but Bell remained nervous over the coming days. “I believe it was skin color,” he says, that prompted the militia to try to force him out. “That was some really wrong stuff.” Bell’s then-girlfriend, who was present during the second incident, confirms his story. (In a later interview, Pervel admits he confronted Bell with a shotgun but portrays the incident as a minor misunderstanding, saying he’s since apologized to Bell.)


    On my final visit to Algiers Point, I stand on Patterson Street, my notebook out, interviewing a pair of residents in the dimming evening light. An older white man, on his way home from a bar, strides up and asks what I’m doing. I reply with a vague explanation, saying I’m working on an article about the “untold stories of Hurricane Katrina.”

    Without a pause, he says, “Oh. You mean the shootings. Yeah, there were a bunch of shootings.”


    When I share with Donnell Herrington what the militia men and Algiers Point locals have told me over the course of my investigation, he grows silent. His eyes focus on a point far away. After a moment, he says quietly, “That’s pretty disturbing to hear that–I’m not going to lie to you–to hear that these guys are cocky. They feel like they got away with it.”


    About A.C. Thompson

    A.C. Thompson is an award-­winning journalist on the staff of ProPublica more…

    SOURCE:  The Nation: 
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