The lax destruction and annihilation Blacks were not worthy news; however, the appalling acts of murders were an enjoyable event for onlookers, and the principal actors who carried out the barbaric murders. Pictures of lynched victims were reproduced on post cards and sold to the public. The hangings and live burnings drew large crowds of anxious Whites, creating carnival or picnic atmospheres. The lynchings were theaters of free entertainment for Whites only. No family of Blacks allowed unless they were schedule to hang from a tree.
|Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky, July 31, 1908|
(pictures from "Without Santuary" by James Allen) The hanging of four Black men in Kentucky. They were identified as Virgil Jones, Robert Jones, Joseph Riley and one unidentified. The burning corpse of William Brown, 1908.
|September 28, 1919, Omaha, Nebraska|
|Mary Turner sculpture|
Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology, Ferris State University, in an article titled “What Was Jim Crow” cited Joseph Boskin, author of “Urban Racial Violence in the Twentieth Century”, 1979. Boskin postured that racial riots in the 1900s had certain characteristics.
Dr. Pilgrim writes that “Boskin omitted the following: the mass media, especially newspapers published inflammatory articles about ‘Black criminals’ immediately before the riots; Blacks were not only killed, but their homes and businesses were looted and many who did not flee were left homeless; and the goal of White rioters, as were the White lynchers of single victims, was to instill fear and terror into the Blacks, thereby buttressing White domination. The Jim Crow hierarchy could not work without violence being used against those on the bottom rung."
Walter White, an investigative reporter and assistant secretary for the NAACP in Brooks and Lowndes Counties, wrote about Mary Turner’s horrific lynching. In the Crisis Magazine 1918 edition, he writes, “Hampton Smith, whose murder was the immediate cause of the holocaust of lynchings, was the owner of a large plantation in Brooks County. He bore a very poor reputation in the community because of his ill treatment of his Negro employees.”
The year was 1918, a year before the “Red Summer” of 1919, when racial riots and lynching of African Americans spread like wildfire all over America. It is not likely Turner would have found a court or attorney receptive to filing a wrongful death suit against a White lynch mob.
White writes, “Her ankles were tied together and she was hung to the tree, head downward (upside down). Gasoline and oil from the automobiles were thrown on her clothing and the mob howled in glee; a match was applied and her clothes burned from her person. When this had been done and while she was yet alive, a knife, evidently one such as is used in splitting hogs, was taken and the woman’s abdomen was cut open, the unborn babe falling from her womb to the ground.”