A Short Object Lesson in Racism

There are today, black Americans whose parents and grandparents knew directly about lynching. They read about them in the daily newspaper, they heard about them in the barber shop and the beauty salon. They made vacation plans to account for white hatred of blacks. A black family driving through America did not stop in certain towns, did not fuel up at certain gas stations. They didn’t talk to white people if they could help it. When they shopped in a 5 & 10, they would see postcards on the rack, made from photos of lynchings. Both these example lynchings were commemorated in postcards.

Americans, black Americans, lived through it. That’s called “black history.” Any white person complaining about “black racism” is merely a whiner, upset that anybody would consider him an enemy, a person not to be trusted. The truth hurts, sometimes.

Will Brown, victim of Omaha Courthouse Lynching

Will Brown was a 41 y/o factory worker arrested and accused of rape. He was also afflicted with rheumatism, and had difficulty getting around, but that didn’t stop him from raping a white girl and then running away, afterward.

Brown ended up in the hands of the crazed mob. He was beaten into unconsciousness. His clothes were torn off by the time he reached the building’s doors. Then he was dragged to a nearby lamp pole on the south side of the courthouse at 18th and Harney around 11:00 p.m. The mob roared when they saw Brown, and a rope was placed around his neck. Brown was hoisted in the air, his body spinning. He was riddled with bullets. His body was then brought down, tied behind a car, and towed to the intersection of 17th and Dodge. There the body was burned with fuel taken from nearby red danger lamps and fire truck lanterns. Later, pieces of the rope used to lynch Brown were sold for 10 cents each. Finally, Brown’s charred body was dragged through the city’s downtown streets.1

Jesse Washington, victim of Waco lynching

Jesse Washington was a 17 y/o boy, accused of raping and murdering the wife of his employer. There were no witnesses to the crime. After the formality of convening a jury and pronouncing him guilty, he got a taste of Texas Justice.

… a courtroom mob dragged him outside, pinned him to the ground, and cut off his testicles. A bonfire was quickly built and lit. For two hours, Jesse Washington — alive — was raised and lowered over the flames. Again and again and again. City officials and police stood by, approvingly. According to some estimates, the crowd grew to as many as 15,000. There were taunts, cheers and laughter. Reporters described hearing “shouts of delight.” 2


  1. “Racial Tensions in Nebraska after World War I.” NebraskaStudies.Org. Nebraska Studies, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015. http://bit.ly/1MJyLnT
  2. Moyers, Bill. “The Fiery Cage and the Lynching Tree, Brutality’s Never Far Away.” BillMoyers.com. Moyers & Co., 05 Feb. 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2015. http://bit.ly/1KBQSWY

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