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Learn From The Past
2/13/2014 12:57:23 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

I was talking with one of my friends about the significance of Black History being taught in our schools. We spoke about how our kinfolks-- Africans were brought to America as slaves and the gut wrenching plight of Black Americans in this country. Howard cited a couple of examples from the book entitled “100 Years of Lynchings” by Ralph Ginzburg. I remembered purchasing the same book a few years back and reading the gruesome accounts of Black males if they so much as looked in the direction of a White woman. Lynchings weren’t just reserved for Black males; women and children were also lynched.

I would like to share a few stories with you. Hopefully you will share them with your children and they will relate to the importance of knowing their history. Perhaps they will come to understand the sacrifices of their forefathers in paving the way for them to have a better life. They will understand why Baby Boomers are not very fond of tattoos. Tattoos are a form of “branding”. Our forefathers were branded with cattle irons and much more severely.

The following stories actually appeared in newspapers across the country:

-Birmingham Voice of the People- April 1, 1916- Heading- Bumps Into Girl, is Lynched. Cedar Bluff, Miss., March 31, Jeff Brown was lynched by a mob here late Saturday afternoon. Brown was walking down the street near the car tracks and saw a moving freight train going in the direction in which he wanted to go. He started on the run to board the moving train. On the sidewalk was the daughter of a white farmer. Brown accidently brushed against her and she screamed. A gang quickly formed and ran after him, jerking him off the moving train. He was beaten into insensibility and then hung to a tree. The sheriff has made no attempt to find out who the members of the mob were. Picture cards of the body are being sold on the streets at five cents apiece.

-New York Age, April 30, 1914- Was Powerless to Aid Sister Who Was Raped And Lynched. Clovis, N.M., April 27, The brother of the young colored girl who was lynched by a mob of white ruffians near Wagner, Okla., a few weeks ago, passed through this town on his way to Mexico. He gave a pathetic account of the lynching to colored citizens here. The young man’s sister was but 17 years old and of respectable parents. Two half-druken white men walked into their home during the absence of the mother and found the girl dressing, locked themselves into her room and criminally assaulted her. Her screams for help were heard by her brother, who, kicking down the door, went to her rescue. In defending his sister, he shot one of the brutes. The other escaped. Later in the evening the local authorities, failing to find the brother, arrested the sister, who was taken from jail by a mob at 4 o’clock in the morning and lynched. From his hiding place the brother, who is 21 years old, could hear his sister’s cries for help, but he was powerless to aid her.

-New York Herald, December 6, 1914-Would Be Chicken Thief, Spartanburg, SC, Dec. 5, For the crime of crawling under the house of a white citizen, with the intention of stealing chickens, Willie Green, a young Negro, was lynched Thursday night by a mob at Cowards, a rural settlement near here.

  -Chicago Defender, April 5, 1919- Negro Veteran Lynched For Refusing To Doff Uniform, Blakely, GA., Apri. 4, When Private William Little, a Negro soldier returning from the war, arrived at the railroad station here several weeks ago, he was encountered by a band of whites. The whites ordered him to doff his Army uniform and walk home in his underwear. Several other whites prevailed upon the hoodlums to leave Little alone and he was permitted to walk home unmolested. Little continued to wear his uniform over the next few weeks, as he had no other clothing. Anonymous notes were sent him warning him not to wear his Army uniform “too long” and advising him to leave town if he wished to “sport around in khaki.” Little ignored the notes. Yesterday Private Little was found dead on the outskirts of this city, apparently beaten by a mom. He was wearing his Army uniform.

The take away lesson this week is although such atrocities, in many instances, were meted upon innocent Blacks, there were some whites who stood up against injustices and were severely beaten and sometimes killed.

This month is a good time to go and see Twelve Years a Slave. If you saw it, you could not help but come away teary eyed and with a heavy heart. Knowledge is power! Arm yourself with knowledge. History is Fact. Protect yourself from indifference.

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