Lynching: An American Symbol

Unfortunately, lynching is as much an American symbol as applie pie.  You don’t have to teach people about a noose, because even if someone doesn’t know the details, a noose’s meaning is embedded deep into America’s core.  It’s an ugly part of our history that most want to ignore or forget.  That is because lynchings were so prominent in America.  In fact, nearly 5,000 African Americans were lynched in the United States between 1860 and 1890 alone.  Lynchings continued to be used as a means of control and fear over blacks well into the 1900’s. We will never know exactly how many black men were murdered this way, since not all lynchings were even recorded.


  1. Kyle · December 11, 2009

    We can’t forget these past events for the same reason we celebrate the 4th of July—its history. These are historical images that some want to simply erase but this is a record of this nation that I will pass down to my son along with an account of events like a man walking on the moon. We get so soft sometimes, so comfortable and we try to distance ourselves from reality and it smacks us in the face. These pictures are why guys like James Cone are still needed. They refresh our awareness because honestly we may believe that all of this is behind us simply because we have a black president.

  2. freestyle · December 11, 2009

    Yo Kyle,
    Agreed, and the truth is both black AND white people need to pass/discuss these events down to the next generation, because until everyone acknowledges and faces up to our history we will never be able to truly move forward. James Cone is just as relevant now as he has ever been. Keep watch, I have a whole blog series set on lynching, that will drop each night. Thanks for sharing.

  3. 47whitebuffalo · December 19, 2009

    I figure you’re very familiar with the book Without Sanctuary which offers a disturbing collection of such photos. Not the least distrubing element of which are the expressions on the faces of some onlookers–like they’re watching public ‘entertainment’. Very unsettling.

  4. freestyle · December 19, 2009

    I’m familiar with the book, although I do not own it… And I agree, it is disturbing to watch the onlookers as they watch and smile. Crazy thing is, many of those younger folks in those pictures are probably still alive. Thanks for your comment.

    • 47whitebuffalo · December 19, 2009

      freestyle–regarding your observation that many of the youngsters in the photos are probably still alive–I had NOT considered that element at all. One has to wonder what their thoughts were/are about such visual memories.
      –shanti om

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