Monday, October 16, 2017

'We've seen tragedies like this too many times'

July 7, 2016 ---President Obama addressed in a speech the fatal shootings of two African American men: Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shot to death in a Triple S Food Mart parking lot, while selling bootleg CDs. An anonymous 911 call reported that Sterling had a gun, and was threatening someone in the parking lot. Two officers arrived. Somewhere in the process Sterling was shot and killed. Neither of the two cops were prosecuted.

Philando Castile, 32, St. Paul, Minnesota, was shot to death July6, 2016 by Officer Jeronimo Yanez. The prosecutor said Yanez was nervous the day of the shooting, and lost control of the traffic stop. Castile’s girlfriend taped the incident. The world saw what happened. Nonetheless, Yanez was found not guilty for Castile’s death. It is these kinds of wanton police shootings that pushed San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick to kneel in protest while the national anthem is being played.

Starting as a lone protester, Kaepernick made a clear statement as to why he is staging a protest. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that opposes Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my
A fellow supporter joins Colin Kaepernick in protest during the playing of national anthem.
part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave, and getting away with murder”. The 49ers coach, Chap Kelly, said Kaepernick has a right not to stand for the national anthem, but he reserved the right to tell him to stand.


For his efforts to bring attention to the deadly shootings of African American men, the quarterback is no longer employed. He has become too political for team owners to touch. He has been thoroughly blackballed by the NFL. For now he lecturing at his creation, “Know Your Rights Camp.” Teens and children their taught 10 basic rights. The camp is free. 

Kaepernick explained his stance: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right”. (NFL Media Report, 2016)

Americans watched President Barack Obama say these words at a press conference when the media asked about a noted professor getting arrested. “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played,” the president said at the time. “But I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately”.  

Jiminey Cricket! All hell broke loose! This innocuous statement was made in 2009 after Harvard Professor Henry Gates, an African American, was accused by police of breaking into his own home. He was cuffed and arrested by Cambridge officer James Crowley. Returning home from China July 16, Gates discovered the door to his home was jammed. He asked his drive to help him open it. A near-by witness called 911, and reported that two Black men with backpacks were burglarizing the home. Crowley arrived on the scene thinking a burglary was in progress. The witness repeated to Crowley what she saw. She later recanted, saying she did not tell Crowley what he reported. Gates was charged with “disorderly conduct.” The charge was dropped July 21.



Professor Henry Gates cuffed and arrested
The media and pundits kidnapped the incident and ran with it, turning it into national news. Law enforcement accused the President of being antipolice. The media and pundits demanded that President Obama apologize to Cowley, which did not happen. They did not demand that Crowley apologize to Professor Gates for false arrest. The media created brouhaha ended with President Obama inviting the cop and the professor the White House for a “Beer Summit.”



President Obama, VP Joe Biden host "Beer Summit" at White for Gates and Crowlley
On July 7, 2016 President Barack Obama made speech on the shooting deaths of Black men. He was jacketed as racist and hating White people when he said if he had a son he would look like Travon Martin, 18, who was killed in Florida, February 26, 2012 by Neighborhood volunteer George Zimmerman. He was found not guilty.

A European newspaper “The Guardian” began publishing the shooting deaths in America after the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, by Daren Wilson, a White cop is Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s death sparked months of rioting in Ferguson and nationwide. The papers stats show that in 2015 from January to December, of the 1146 people killed by police, 307 were Black men, women and boys. The dead ranged in age from13 to 72. Stats also showed that 5.49 were Native American; 3.49 Hispanic/Latino; 2.95 White, 1.34 Asia/Pacific Islander. In 2016 of the 1093 killed by police in the U.S. 266 were Black men, women and boys, ranging ages from 15 to 77. Stats shows that 10.13 are Native American; 6.16 Black; 3.23 Hispanic/Latino; 2.9 White, 1.17 Asian/Pacific Islander.



Speech made by President Barack Obama  

“Good evening everybody. I know that we’ve been on a long flight, but given the extraordinary interest in the shootings that took place in Louisiana and Minnesota, I thought it would be important for me to address all of you directly. And I want to begin by expressing my condolences for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. As I said in the statement that I posted on Facebook, we have seen tragedies like this too many times. The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and the governor of Minnesota has called for an investigation there as well.

 As is my practice, given my institutional role, I can’t comment on the specific facts of these cases; and I have confidence in the Department of Justice. But what I can say is that all of us as Americans should be troubled by the shootings. These are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system. And I just want to give people a few statistics to try to put in context why emotions are so raw around these issues. According to various studies, not just one, but a wide range of studies that have been carried out over a number of years, African Americans are 30 percent more likely than Whites to be pulled over.

President Obama
After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched. Last year African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of Whites. African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites; African Americans defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost ten percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime. So that if you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population.

These are facts. And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin they are not being treated the same. And that hurts. And that should trouble all of us. This is not just a Black issue. It’s not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we should all care about; all fair minded people should be concerned. Now let me just say that we have extraordinary appreciation and respect for the vast majority of police officers who put their line on the lives every day. They have a dangerous job. It is a tough job. And as I’ve said before, they have a right to go home to their families, just like anybody else on the job.

And there are gonna be circumstances where they’re gonna have to make split second decisions. We understand that. But when we see data that indicates disparities in how African Americans and Latinos may be treated in various jurisdictions around the country, then it’s incumbent on all of us to say we are better than this. We are better than this. And to not have it to degenerate into the usual political scrum, we should be able to step back, reflect and ask ourselves what can we do better so that everybody feels as if they’re equal under the law.

Now the good news is that there are practices that we can institute that will make a difference. Last year, we put together a task force that was comprised of civil rights activists and community leaders; but also law enforcement officials. Police captains, sheriffs. And they sat around the table and they looked at the data and looked at best practices. And they came up with specific recommendations and steps that could ensure that the trust between trust between communities and police departments were rebuilt and incidents like this would be less likely to occur.

And there’s some jurisdictions out there that have adopted these recommendations. But there are a whole bunch that have not. And if anything good comes out of these tragedies, my hope is that communities around the country take a look and say, how can we implement these recommendations? And that the overwhelming majority of police officers, who are doing a great job every single day and are doing their job without regard to race, that they encourage their leadership and organizations that represent them to get behind these recommendations. Because ultimately, if you can rebuild trust between communities and the police departments that serve them, that helps us solve crime problems.

That will make life easier for police officers. They will have more cooperation. They will be safer. They will be more likely to come home. So it would be good for crime fighting and it will avert tragedy. And I’m encouraged by the fact that the majority of leadership in police departments around the country recognize this, but change has been too slow, and we have to have a greater sense of urgency about this. I’m also encouraged, by the way, that we have bipartisan support for criminal justice reform working its way through Congress. It has stalled, and lost some momentum over the past couple of months, in part, because Congress is having difficulty, generally, moving legislation forward and we’re in a political season.

But there are people of goodwill on the Republican side and the Democratic side who I’ve seen want to get something done here. That too, would help provide greater assurance across the country that those in power, those in authority are taking these issues seriously. So, this should be a spur to action to get that done, to get that across the finish line. Because I know there are a lot of people who want to get it done. So let me just make a couple of final comments. I mentioned in my Facebook statement that I hope we don’t fall into typical patterns that occur after these kinds of incidents occur; where right away there’s a lot of political rhetoric, and it starts dividing people instead of bringing folks together.

To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement. There are times when these incidents occur and you see protests and you see vigils, and I get letters, well-meaning letters sometimes from law enforcement saying, how come we’re under attack? How come not as much emphasis is made when police officers are shot? So to all of law enforcement, I want to be very clear: we know you have a tough job. We mourn those in uniform who are protecting us who lose their lives. On a regular basis, I have joined with families in front of Capitol Hill to commemorate the incredible heroism that they’ve displayed. I’ve hugged family members who’ve lost loved ones doing the right thing. I know how much it hurts.

On a regular basis, we bring in those who’ve done heroic work in law enforcement and have survived. Sometimes they’ve been injured, sometimes they’ve risked their lives in remarkable ways. And we applaud them and appreciate them. Because they’re doing a really tough job really well. There is no contradiction between us supporting law enforcement, making sure they have the equipment they need, making sure they’re collective bargaining rights are recognized, making sure they’re adequately staffed, making sure that they are respected, making sure that their families are supported. And also saying that there are problems across our criminal justice system. There are biases, some conscious and unconscious that have to be rooted out. That’s not an attack on law enforcement. That is reflective of the values that the vast majority of law enforcement bring to the job

But I repeat, if communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement officers who are doing a great job, and are doing the right thing, it makes their lives harder. So, when people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean ‘blue lives’ don’t matter, it just means all lives matter. But right now, the big concern is the fact that data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. This isn’t a matter of us comparing the value of lives, this is recognizing that there is a particular burden being placed on a group of our fellow citizens. And we should care about that. We can’t dismiss it. We can’t dismiss it.

So let me just end by saying I actually, genuinely, truly believe that the vast majority of the American people see this as a problem that we should all care about. And I would just ask those who question the sincerity or legitimacy of protests and vigils and expressions of outrage who somehow label those expressions of outrage as quote unquote political correctness, I just ask folks to step back and think: what if this happened to someone in your family? How would you feel? To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness, it’s just being American and wanting to live up to our best and highest ideals.

And it’s to recognize the reality that we’ve got some tough history and we haven’t gotten through all of that history yet. And we don’t expect that in my lifetime maybe not in my children’s lifetimes that all the vestiges of that past will have been cured, will have been solved. But we can do better. People of goodwill can do better. And doing better involves not just addressing potential bias in the criminal justice system, it’s recognizing that too often we’re asking police to man the barricades in communities that have been forgotten by all of us for way too long. In terms of substandard schools, inadequate jobs and a lack of opportunity. We’ve gotta tackle those things. We can do better. And I believe we will do better.

Thanks very much, everybody.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The live burning of Jesse Washington is a birthmark on the face of Waco, Texas 100 years later


If in reading this article it seems that you are re-reading the same accounting of the Jesse Washington lynching that is because eyewitnesses and newspapers observed the same incident with difference eyes. Newspapers accounts were somewhat different. The variety of differences answers questions that were not previously answered by report. All-in-all the information does fall into place.

The live roasting death of 17-year-old Jesse Washington in Waco, 1916. Vigilante instigators hold two chains around his neck as the bloodthirsty mob look on like they were watching a movie. No one stepped in to stop the execution.
Once upon a time acts of violence against Black people were so horrendous and characteristically faithful in White America’s DNA that it frightened Black folks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The fear pushed them into hiding inside their houses, churches,  sometimes slipping out of town. There were no magic stairs for them to climb in their quest to escape their involuntary imprisonment. Even after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing African slaves from bondage, the sun did not shine any brighter for them.

Life for the freed Africans was akin to psychological robbery of their souls; deliberate vandalism of their well-being. Fear and death were constant companions. They did not know how or when they would be selected to die at the hands of bogarting Whites, who acted with impunity, because White privilege allowed them that luxury. Inbred panic and adopted expectations of serious harm and death never took vacations in the lives of the newly emancipated slaves regardless of age.

John Dollard, a psychologist and social scientist studied race relations in America. In his 1937 book “Caste and Class in a Southern Town”, Dollard collected data on Southern states. He discovered: “Every Negro in the South knows that he is under a kind of sentence of death; he does not know when his turn will come, it may never come, but it may also be at any time”.

The author of an editorial published in The Waco Iconoclast did not pretend to be race friendly. William Cowper Brann parted with this biting proposal on how to eradicate the South of Black males suspected of "spoiling" White women. “If the South is ever going to rid herself of the negro rape fiend she must take a day off and kill every member of the accused race that declines to leave the country”.

In Texas between 1885 and 1942 there were 468 lynchings of which 339 were Black; 77 White; 53 Hispanic, and one Indian. Texas was the third state in line behind Georgia and Mississippi in hangings. The heaviest concentration of vigilante hoodlumism occurred along the Brazos River, from Waco to the Gulf of Mexico. Waco was the county seat of McLennan County. In 1916 lynching was a violation in Texas.

The resurrection of Jesse Washington

The resurrection of Jesse Washington’s lynching suddenly walked into the spotlight in 2001; first locally and then nationally. ABC’s Ted Kopple aired an 85th anniversary special on lynching in America. One guest was James Allen, author of “Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography In America”, a heart wrenching pictorial history of lynched men and women, the majority being African Americans. Sometimes four or five victims were lynched simultaneously from bridges, trees, utility poles, any place the mobs could throw a rope.

After researching lynchings in America it was difficult to choose a particular incident to write about. All of the compassionless deaths were ugly, reprehensible and inhumane. While looking at James Allen’s book I decided on 17-year old Jesse Washington. His death was, and still is a gigantic birthmark on the face of Waco, Texas. Washington’s short life was a tale of racism, terror, ambitious politicians, mob schizophrenia, unbridled, racial hatred and hostility. Waco citizens today are striving to erase the notorious horror story bearing their state’s name 100 years later. But the barbarity of Jesse Washington’s death refuses to disappear. His fire roasted ghost hovers Waco like a dark cloud. The historical pictures will never vanish.

Lynching and burning at the stake were once absolute entertainment for blood thirsty despots in Texas and nationwide.  Black folks did not have to be guilty of a crime to be executed by a lynch ready mob. They were always subject to getting labeled “criminal.” Mere suspicion of committing a crime led to a death sentence. A “crime” was whatever a White man, woman or mob wanted it to be. When a single hanging or multiple hangings occurred Black victims were sadistically taunted, butchered for souvenirs, and tortured before death took mercy on them.

Such was the case of Jesse Washington, who lived with his mother, father, several sister and brothers. Born in 1899, Washington and lived in Robinson, Texas, a rural community. The Crisis magazine, in a story titled “The Waco Horror”, Washington was described as a “big, well developed fellow, but ignorant, barely unable to either read or write. He seemed to have been sullen, and perhaps mental deficient, with a strong, and even daring temper”.

A farmhand, Washington’s troubles commenced when he was arrested for the beating death of Lucy Fryar (or Fryer), 53, wife and mother of two. He worked for George and Lucy Fryar on their farm in Robinson. Returning from the field one afternoon Fryar’s daughter discovered her mother’s lifeless body inside the farm’s seed shed. Lucy Fryar had been bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Suspicion fingers pointed the sheriff and his posse toward Washington, who was immediately arrested and booked.

After Washington was tried and lynched the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) secretary Royal Nash commissioned suffragist Elisabeth Freeman to investigate the Waco Horror, write a report and to obtain photos if any were available. “Will you not get the facts for us”? Nash asked in a letter to Freeman. “Your suffrage work will probably give you an excuse for being in Waco”. Freeman spent a week in Waco interviewing city officials, citizens, politicians, witnesses to the lynching, read newspapers, interviewed editors, the Washington and Fryar families, and neighbors. 

The ex-mayor of Waco, Allan Stanford, Sheriff Fleming and Judge Munroe cut a deal before the trail. The mayor sought reassurances from Robinson officials that Washington would not be lynched. “They shut the mouths of the better element of Waco by telling them that the Robinson people had promised not to do it. . . . But they did not get the pledge from the disreputable bunch of Waco that they would not stat the affair”, writes Elisabeth Freeman, commissioned investigator/reporter for the NAACP.

 The Killing of Lucy Fryar (also Fryer)

Lucy Fryer (Fryar)
Elisabeth Freeman wrote: “On Monday, May 8, while Mr. Fryar, his son of fourteen, and his daughter of twenty-four were hoeing cotton in one part of their farm; the boy, Jesse, was plowing with his mules and sowing cotton seed near the house where Mrs. Fryar was alone. He went to the house for more cotton seed. As Mrs. Fryar was scooping it up for him into the bag which he held, she scolded him for beating the mules. He knocked her down with a blacksmith hammer, and as he had confessed, criminally assaulted her; finally he killed her with the hammer.

“The boy then returned to the field, finished his work, and went home to the cabin, where he lived with his father and mother and several brothers and sisters. When the murdered woman was discovered suspicion pointed to Jesse Washington, who was found sitting in his yard whittling a stick. He was arrested and immediately taken to jail in Waco. Tuesday a mob visited the jail. They came with about thirty automobiles, each holding as many as he could crowd in. There was no noise, no tooting of horns, the lights were dim, and some had no lights at all.

“These were all Robinson people. They looked for the boy, but could not find him, for he had been taken to a neighboring county where the sheriff obtained a confession from him. Another mob went to the county seat to get the boy, but he was again removed to Dallas. Finally the Robinson people pledged themselves not to lynch the boy if the authorities acted promptly, and if the boy would waive his legal rights. A second confession in which the boy waived all his legal rights was attained in the Dallas jail. The Grand Jury indicted him on Thursday, and the case was set for trial Monday, May 15”.

Jumping ahead of the bloodthirsty miscreants intent on killing Washington, Sheriff Fleming transferred him from Dallas to Waco around midnight on a Sunday. He was “secreted to the office of the judge. There was not the slightest doubt that he would be tried and hanged the next day, if the law took its course. There was little doubt of his guilt. The confessions were obtained, of course, under duress, and were, perhaps, suspiciously clear, and not entirely in the boy’s own words. It seems, however, probably that the boy was guilty of murder, and possibly of the premeditated rape”.

In Freeman’s report she revealed that Waco politicians demanded a hanging, because there “was a political value to the county officials who are running for office.  All that elected element who took part in the lynching will vote for the Sheriff. The Judge is of value to his party because he appoints the three commissioners of the jury, and these commissioners pick the Grand Jury”.

The characters in question are Judge R. I. Munroe, who presided over Washington’s trial and Sheriff S. S. Fleming, who arrested him. Fleming was up for re-election and “has made much political capital out of the lynching”, wrote Freeman, adding that he had a “beautiful story to tell”.  When Fleming told his story he put all blame for the lynching on the shoulders of Judge Munroe. In a later interview with the Judge, Freeman asked why he did not seek a change of venue to avoid trouble. He told she did not know the South, and that a change of venue would not stop a mob. “A mob anywhere would have done the same thing”.

Waco courtroom filled to capacity on judgment day

Before the trial had begun a thrill seeking mob poured into Waco anticipating a cinematic showdown. They were ready and prepared to make the verdict happen. A Black man accused of killing and raping a White woman. A bad paring of two races. Only one verdict and one sentence was acceptable: Guilty. Death by hanging. Or chained and roasted over a bonfire. Or both.

The Waco 54th District Court’s capacity was 500, but Judge Munroe allowed 1,500 spectators to squeeze into the courtroom. News reports stated that the courtroom was so packed “the jurors could scarcely get in and out of their seats”. On Monday, May 15, 1916 the kangaroo trial began at 11 a.m. By 11:22 a.m. the foreman, W. B. Brazelton, read the verdict: Guilty. The decision was made by 12 White male jurors, one of whom “was a convicted murderer with a suspended sentence over him”. The doctor who examined Lucy Fryar’s (Fryer’s) head wounds, assessed that she had been raped, but he did not testify to the rape at the trial. Washington’s court appointed lawyer did not put on a defense, nor did he challenge the prosecutor. There are no reports that the state presented exhibits or damning evidence such as a bloody hammer, bloody clothes worn by Washington.  

It seems that Washington knew a lynch mob was going to steal him life. “The boy, Jesse Washington, was asked what he thought about them coming after him. He said, ‘They promised they would not if I would tell them about it. He seemed not to care, but was thoroughly indifferent’”, wrote Freeman, repeating a newspaper account.

Some spectators entered the courtroom armed with guns and other weapons, ready for action. According to Freeman, “A door which opened by a peculiar device had been fixed so that it would open”.  Before the verdict was completely recorded Washington was grabbed by a herd of homicidal vigilantes, and dragged out the back door of the courthouse. A large crowd was waiting for Washington’s delivery to the alley. The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune noted what happened in the courtroom. “Then the tall man started over the heads of the crowd. Fred H. Kingsbury, who was standing alongside of Judge Munroe”.

Bloodthirsty mob from Waco and Robinson gather for the lynching.
Freeman reiterated what she read in a news reports: “A big fellow in the back of the courtroom yelled, ‘Get the Nigger’! Barney Goldberg, one of the deputy sheriffs, told me that he did not know that Fleming had dropped orders to let them get the Negro, and pulled his revolver. Afterwards he got his friends to swear to an affidavit that he was present”.

In an interview with the court stenographer Freeman learned that “there was a full minute” before all hell broke loose in the courtroom. “The people crowded around him and he knew what was coming, so he slipped out the back door with his records. Sheriff Fleming slipped out also”. Goldberg had a reason to lie. If Fleming did not win re-election he would be unemployed. He said the sheriff’s rival was “unable to read and write”. However, being illiterate was not a disqualifier. Fleming’s opponent had “three dead niggers to his credit”, and that appeared to outweigh reading and writing.

When Freeman got a chance to interview Fleming she asked him where he and the fifty deputies was when Washington was kidnapped from the courtroom. Fleming asked her, “Would you want to protect a nigger”? He told her that all he was “called upon to do in the way of protecting the boy was to get him to court”. He told her that Judge Munroe made no effort to stop the mob, although he had firearms in his desk in the courtroom.

The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune wrote when the chain thrown around Washington broke, one of the instigators stepped forward. “The big fellow took the chain off the Negro under the cover of the crowd and wound it around his wrist so that the crowd jerking the chain was jerking at the man’s wrist and he was holding the boy. The boy shrieked and struggled”. An estimated 15,000 from Waco and Robinson attended the burning.

Freeman learned that “the mob ripped off the boy’s clothes, cut them in bits and even cut the boy. Someone cut his ear off; someone else unsexed him. A little girl working for Goldstein Mingle Department Store told me that she saw this done”.  The “little girl” was an adult manicurist. She witnessed the castration of Washington while looking out the store’s window. Although Freeman reported that names of the primary instigators were known to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The organization refused to make the names known to the public unless it received an “application responsible parties”. After learning who the ringleaders were Freeman set out to prove they were the mob participants in Gildersleeve’s photos. The five were identified by people who knew them. Their faces are prominent in the photos.

To get a feel for the distance Washington was dragged before he was lynched, Freeman wrote:  “I went over the route the boy had been taken and saw that they dragged him between a quarter-and-a-half-mile from the court house to the bridge and then dragged him two blocks and another block over to the City Hall. After they had gotten up to the bridge, someone said that a fire was already going up at City Hall, and they turned around and went back. Several people denied that this fire was going, but the photograph allows that it was”.

Lynching takes place under mayor’s window at City Hall

The live roasting of Jesse Washington.
The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune describe the mob’s gathering of materials to start a bonfire, and setting Washington’s body afire. “A huge dry goods box was then produced and filled to the top with all kinds of the material that had been secured. The Negro’s body was swaying in the air, and all of the time a noise of thousands was heard and the Negro’s body was lowered into the box. No sooner had his body touched the box than people pressed forward, each eager to be the first to light the fire. And as the smoke rapidly rose in the air, such a demonstration as of people gone mad was never heard before. Everybody pressed closer to get souvenirs of the affair. When they had finished with the Negro his body was mutilated.

“He tried to get away, but could not. He reached up to grab the chain and they cut off his fingers. The big man struck the boy on the back of the neck with a knife just as they were pulling him up on the tree. Mr. Lester thought this was this was practically the death blow. He was lowered into the fire several times by means of the chain around his neck. Someone said they estimate the boy had about twenty-four stab wounds, none of them death-dealing.

 “When the Negro was first hoisted into the air his tongue protruded from his mouth and his face was smeared with blood. Life was not extinct within the Negro’s body, although nearly so. When another chain was placed around his neck and thrown over the limb of a tree on the lawn, everybody was trying to get to the Negro and have some part of his death. . . . As rapidly as possible the Negro was then jerked into the air at which time shouts from thousands of throats went upon the morning air”.

“Mr. Lester” was believed to be the father of the woman who observed the castration of Washington. Freeman wrote that Lester had climbed up a tree to watch the lynching. “He had seen the mob cut off Washington’s fingers and saw the blow to the back of his head by the big man that probably finished him off”.

The live roasting of Washington took place close to City Hall, under the window Mayor Dollins. Standing at the window watching the tragedy unfold were the mayor, chief of Police Guy McNamara and local photographer Fred Gildersleeve. He had been told by telephone that Washington was going to be lynched. Spectators were also watching from windows in nearby buildings, and from trees. Mayor Dollins was reportedly more concerned about destruction of the tree than burning the life out of Jesse Washington.

Whereas he took photos of the mob and the lynching/burning, Gildersleeve did not take any photos of Washington’s before his death. There is a mind-staining photo of the teenager’s naked body splayed in a grotesque pose atop the fire. The chain is around his neck, one leg is partially on the ground. The majority all-male posse of hooligans calmly watched Washington’s lowered body, undisturbed by the tragedy they helped perpetuate. 

Observing Jesse Washington hanged and roasted alive, dying an undignified death, the frenzied clan
Charred body of Washington raised for the mob to cheer his death.
of sadmasochists were not ssatisfied. They heaped more acts of violence upon Washington’s charred body. Someone lassoed his torso, threw the rope over a saddled horse, and dragged the corpse through the streets of Waco. ** I am going to take poetic license and say the body was likely dragged a short distance rather than the streets of Waco. It might have been within the square around the court house.
 

Waco Times Herald reported: “The body of the Negro was burned to a crisp, and was left for some time in the smoldering remains of the fire. Women and children were who decided to view the scene were allowed to do so, the crowds parting to let them look at the scene.  After some time the body of the Negro was jerked into the air where everybody could view the remains, and mighty shouts rose in the air. The torso was taken to Robinson, hung on a tree, and shown off for a while, then they too it back down again and dragged it back to town and put it back on the fire again at five o’clock”.

Freeman learned that as Washington’s torso was dragged behind a horse, “limbs dropped off and the head was put on the stoop of a disresputable woman in the reservation district. Some little boys pulled out the teeth and sold them for five dollars apiece. The chain link was sold for five cents a link”.  **disresputable” and “reservation district” suggests a house of prostitution in a red light district or neighborhood.

The brutal execution of Washington was memorialized on 5.5x3.5 post cards, made available by Gildersleeve. Countless post cards displaying the appalling photos were sold in Waco. One postcard mailed to a father from his son said: “This is the barbecue we had last night. My picture is on the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe”.

When Elisabeth requested photos from the Waco photographer he was reluctant to provide copies to her. He wrote a note to the Waco Times Herald, telling the paper why he would no longer sell the photos. “We have quit selling the mob photos, this step was taken because our ‘city dads’ objected on the grounds of ‘bad publicity’ as we wanted to be boosters and not knockers. We agreed to stop all sale’”.

A Houston Chronicle and Herald editorial dated May 24, 1916, observed: “The sovereignty of the great State of Texas, the constituted authority of the United States, have been defied and outraged in order that an angry mob might make the last few moments of a Negro, already condemned to death, more horrible than the law decrees; so horrible indeed that no respectable citizen of this state will lower himself to declare them unjustified. It is so bad that silence must be maintained even though that silence amounts to perjury. It is so bad that thousands must lie. Remember this was not in the dead of night; not a secretly planned affair; not an assault on an unprepared jail. It was in the daytime, in the court house, in open and deliberate defiance of law and order. To burn a human is a horrible thing”.

In 2006 an interracial organization gathered at the Waco court house steps to read a resolution condemning the lynching of Jesse Washington, and to apologize for the century old tragedy. Whereas the group agreed that the lynching should be acknowledged, the majority of Waco citizens, Black and White, did not want to be reminded of 1916. They preferred that Washington’s ghost stay in its unmarked grave, hidden from Waco, history and the world.

Roland R. Fryer, the 75-year-old grandson of Lucy Fryer, did not approve of any recognition of the “Waco Horror” or Jesse Washington. He said it a “stupid idea to put up a monument to a Black man who killed my grandmother”.

Jesse Washington, author and sportswriter for “The Undefeated”, who was named after the deceased teenager, said he learned about Washington a decade ago. He set out on a personal journey to discover what happen to young Jesse Washington. He traveled to Waco, where he interviewed several people, including politicians. His last interview was with relatives of the dead teenager.
Teen's body is left on smoldering fire, later dragged to Robinson.


 One relative, Mary Pearson, 67, was very emotional when she talked to Washington about Jesse Washington, and how his death had affected her, though she did not know him. The horrific photos Washington’s charred body told the story for her. “It is something I just can’t shake. I look at the pictures . . .  it just makes me want to get me a machine gun”, says Pearson. “You lose rest. You can’t sleep.

“What really get me is how could you have a heart to do another soul like that? I mean, you can see a chicken, a hog that have no soul . . . How could you sit up there and go and get pieces of his body and save it as a souvenir . . .  How they drug him in his flesh, flesh was falling off the bone . . . Seventeen years old? Seventeen? That takes a whole lot of me. I’ve tried to keep from getting angry, but I can help it. That’s the reason why I had to go up under the doctor to get me some medicine . . .”

Washington said the family would like to see a historical marker situated at the spot where Jesse Washington was lynched, plus an apology. He said both of these requests can be realized but it's not likely to happen. Politicians and reluctant citizens have repeatdly said no to the idea.