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Lynching During the Jim Crow Era

Comprehensive Discussion on the Cases of Lynching During Jim Crow Era

The paper will seek to provide a comprehensive discussion on the cases of lynching during Jim Crow era. Jim Crow describes the period between 1877 and the late 1960s that recognized the racial systems that occurred in the United States. However, it did not occur exclusively among the southern and the bordering states. This comprised of the various anti-black laws among the American cultures. During the Jim Crow era, the African Americans were classified as second-class people who did not have their own rights. However, it led to the development of forces to legitimate the anti-black racism actions in the society (Feimster, 2009). Most of the Christian theologians and ministers were whites who looked down upon the blacks. In addition, they argued that God had allowed for racial segregation in the society. From an educational perspective, the social Darwinist and scholars can also characterize the Jim Crow era. They argued that the blacks were intellectually inferior to the white people in the society.

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Furthermore, the Jim Crow era can be marked by the struggle of the blacks against violence, poverty and racial discrimination. The Jim Crow era allowed the publication of newspapers that called the blacks bad names including niggers and coons. Thus, during the era, all social aspects supported the oppression and discrimination of the blacks in the society. The era also revealed the systems by Jim Crow that was based on the following rationalizations. It means that the whites were perceived to be more superior to the blacks in all different ways including sexually. During the Jim Crow era, the blacks were restricted to enjoy different activities including riding in a car of a white person, showing public affection, and they were not supposed to eat together with the whites (Wallace, 2003). The public transport was also segregated in order to give the blacks their own transport systems while the whites had advanced forms of transportation. Therefore, the Jim Crow era details the oppression and discrimination accorded towards the blacks in the different states.

During the Jim Crow era, there were several cases of lynching when persons took the law into their own hands killing person alleged to have commit wrongdoing in the society. The committed offenses were required to be more serious in order to advance the severe punishment. Lynching was highly influenced by the various social disagreements in the country including the formation of the American frontier, the civil rights movements and the reconstruction. These three aspects can be used to explain the occurrence of lynching cases in the society. From a historical perspective, lynching was understood as the process of extra-judicial punishment. However, in the late 18 century, it was recognized as the acts of murder, more so by hanging (Feimster, 2009).

During Jim Crow era, lynching of the blacks was used as a technique to initiate social changes in the society. Thus, the events that occurred in the era sought to prevent economic competition as well as resisting the growth of the civil rights movements. The cases of lynching helped to retain the leadership of Jim Crow through his years in the power. The lynching practices employed terrorism and violence activities. Besides, several organizations have been linked to the documentation of the lynching practices in the various ways. For instance, the NAACP recorded the statistical details of the lynching in terms of age, year, and state among others. The information has been used to reveal the particular cases of lynching as documented from the first hand information. The lynching practices were aimed at creating racial violence that discriminated against the blacks in the society. Jim Crow used the practices to control the rights and power of the African Americans in the United States (Wallace, 2003).

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From the Jim Crow system, the police were given the power to use lynching as a form of positive strategy of curbing insecurity in the society. In the media, lynching was seen as informal approach relevant in the social deconstruction, more so towards the African Americans. Similarly, the lynching cases were more aligned to the race compared to the political affiliations. The whites usually entered into the homes of the blacks in order to obtain and confiscate weapons. Lynching helped in the enforcement of the both the formal rules and regulations and the moral of the society. This asserts the white dominance in the regions that usually targeted the blacks during their attacks (Wallace, 2003). In 1917, there was a massacre of more than 200 black employees in Sr. Louis that was caused by the continuous competition for resources and opportunities. During the Jim Crow era, the lynching focused on two motives in the country. First, the fulfillment of the social aspects that sought to fifth for the wrong and perceived issues in the society. The second recognizes the economic aspects in the society. As revealed by Ida B. Wells a journalist, the victims of lynching led to murder.

Jim Crow empowered the lynch mobs to promote racial social order through destroying the African Americans properties and houses. In addition, a group of white persons was sending to address the public on the various aspects. In the Jim Crow era, Ross (2004) found out that most of the lynching practices occurred under the full guidance and participation of the government officials. The police were also unreluctant in controlling the mobs. According to the various statistics on lynching, only 1% was found guilty of the alleged crimes. Thus, the era of Jim Crow was marked by human right violations and racial discrimination that led to increased number of lynching activities in the country.

Figure 1. Graph showing the number of lynching practices from 1865 to 1964.


The graph provides a summary of the number of lynching activities and murders related to racial discrimination from 1865 to 1965. According to the findings in the graph, the number of black victims was close to 90 percent, and 10 percent were whites. The cases of lynching practices were not common in the West parts of the country. The most popular issues of lynching are murder and rape. Ida B. Wells documented such issues that relate to the interpretation for the lynching of blacks who were against the regulations of Jim Crow. Other explanations include violations of color issues and assault and robbery in the society (Tolnay, 2012). As a result, the graph records the number of lynching activities occurring from the different states.

In the 1900s, there was a dip in lynching that implied the decrease in the number of victims in the society. The dip was facilitated by the various factors in the country. In the early 1920s and 1930s, there was an increase in the number of women who were joined the anti-lynching movements. Especially, in the southern regions, the women were ready to defend the blacks against discrimination and oppression from the whites. Following the brutality and adverse effects of lynching, the women sought to protect the rights of the people by ending the act. The willingness of the white women to join the anti-lynching movements led to a dip in lynching in the country. The white women were focused on education and courts by creating strong arguments from the federal legislations. Based on the opinions of people from the South, it was crucial in causing decline in the number of lynching in the country.

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Apart from the women in the South, various organizations, writers, and activists opposed lynching and racial discrimination in the country. As explored in the different social equality representation, the dip in lynching in 1900s indicated a pattern of the reducing number of lynching practices in the society. Also, it can be associated with resistance posed by the blacks in the society. Until 1900s, the Americans had gained strong political experience to resist the continued cases of lynching. During the Jim Crow era, the cases of lynching were seen as a form of reducing the growth of civil rights in the society. The blacks understood that the government was not concerned about their rights and, thus, they had to retaliate.

In 1919, the blacks engaged in nationwide riots that sought to reduce the oppression from the white mobs. In resistance, the blacks pointed to police officers a killer who did not bother to arrest him. The black mobs attacked the police officer. In addition, they caused much chaos by attacking businesses killing 15 whites in the encounters. The resistance of the blacks is a major element in the dip in lynching in 1900s. The period illustrates their ability to understand their fundamental rights as citizens. They discovered that they had the equal rights with the whites irrespective of their skin complexion (Wallace, 2003). Therefore, the resistance led to a dip in lynching in 1900s.

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Small minorities of the victims of lynching are the whites. Based on the Wells reflections, the southern mobs also killed some of white women. In the Southern Americans mobs, between 1880 and 1965 the bodies of white women were found. This presents a clear evidence of the victims of lynching being whites. The white southerners may lack a proper language of communication among themselves. The situation illustrates that they could kill their white women. The case creates an implication on how the southern whites transformed treating the blacks harshly. Amongst of the white population, some of the whites belong to a lower class (Wallace, 2003). The prevalence of lynching on the white was high due to their social status. The poor whites lived among the same environment with the blacks. They also share the several aspects in the country including economic aspects, poverty, and social uncertainties. Thus, the lynching process affected a minority of the whites during Jim Crow. The introduction of Jim Crows laws could have fueled the lynching of a minority of the whites. For instance, when the whites were caught in betrayal, they were subject to lynching in the country. Therefore, a minority of the victims of lynching are the whites (Litwack, 2010).

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a black journalist who led on protests against lynching. Wells- Barnet was an influential crusader of democracy in the country. The ability to carry out her roles can be revealed from her characteristics. First, she was militant and a focused leader and, thus, she was able to stand by her beliefs and values irrespective of the challenges. Wells was an uncompressing leader that can be determined by her efforts to end lynching and racial discrimination in the society. From her own experience, Ida B. Wells was surprised at the lynching of his friends because of opening a grocery store hat competed with the white-owned stores (Feimster, 2009). She was among the people who sought to fight against oppression and racial discrimination from the whites.

In addition, Wells-Barnett was one of the active members in the formation of the NAACP organizations. Her contributions in the battle against slavery are unforgettable. Wells-Barnett sought to ensure that all citizens were aware of their rights as stated under the laws. During the reign of Jim Crow, the rights of the blacks there deprived through violence. Wells editorial advocated against lynching fiercely. The editorial programs were aimed at gaining support from the both sides of the whites and the blacks (Tolnay, 2012). In most of her publications, Wells provided her own reflections that the blacks should have right to compete the whites in the various. The women had the relevant professional insights on the social dynamics in the country. The understanding of the different social aspects in the society helped Ida B. Wells to assist in ending lynching in the society.

Wells-Barnett always criticized the aspects of racial discrimination and lynching in the country. Through her personal understanding of the US history, Wells-Barnett was able to launch strong arguments towards lynching. She also had close ties with the primary victims who were the African Americans who deserved human rights protection. The perspectives of racial discrimination and lynching were difficult tasks to handle considering the controversial issues surrounding the two social aspects. However, Wells-Barnett described lynching through self-expression among the different perspectives of human dignity, social power, and civil rights actions (Litwack, 2010). She stood firm on her advocacy to end lynching in the society that has a mixed racial ancestry. Wells-Barnet was expected to behave as an educated southern woman who emanates from a diverse ancestry.

In 1890s, Wells-Barnett did great work in minimizing the trend of rape cases in the society. She embraced the aspect of punishing any betrayals. Through her work, she was able to prove that the purported black rapist was innocent from the various lustful sexual encounters. During the marking of Anglo-Saxon civilization, she advocated for the sharing of cultures and various issues among the blacks and the whites. Most importantly, Wells-Barnett advocated for interracial marriage that was not allowed by the legal provisions in the country. The administration of Jim Crow had issued strict policies to eliminate any forms of sexual contacts among the whites and the blacks. However, the work of Wells-Barnet was instrumental in promoting the rights to people to intermarry irrespective of their races. Ida B. Wells also advocated against the unequal powers that existent between the blacks and the whites in the society. During the period, Jim Crow was on the rise to favor the whites against the blacks irrespective of their social status, religious affiliation or natural ability. From her writing, she was able to reveal shod of the politically driven rape cases. It promoted her ability to restore social orders in the country. Therefore, Wells-Barnett made significant contributions in ending lynching and racial discrimination in the country (Chafe, Gavins, & Korstad, 2001).

In summary, there are various events of lynching during the Jim Crow era. During the Jim Crow eras, the African Americans were classified as second-class people who did not have their own rights. However, it led to the development of forces to legitimate the anti-black racism actions in the society. The indications of lynching of the blacks were used as a technique to initiate social changes in the society. The different occurrences in the Jim Crow era sought to prevent economic competition as well as resisting the growth of the civil rights movements. The cases of lynching helped to retain the leadership of Jim Crow through his years in the power. It also leads people to committing terrorism and violence activities. Jim Crow empowered the lynch mobs to promote racial social order through destroying the African Americans properties and houses. It can also be noted that small minority of the victims are the whites. Wells-Barnett was instrumental in the formation of the NAACP organizations, but her contributions in ending lynching are great.


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