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Book Displays: Equal Justice Initiative 2021: Jul

Virtual displays based on the 2021 A History of Racial Injustice calendar.

July's Topic - Lynchings of Black Women and Children

                    Clear jars with soil in them and names of Black women victims of police violence

Calendar photo caption: Collected at the sites of racial violence and tragedy as part of EJI's Community Remembrance project, these jars of soil honor and remember women who were victims of racial terror lynchings by white mobs. (Bryan G. Stevenson)

Calendar Text

White lynch mobs lynched over 6,500 Black men, women, and children between the end of the Civil War and 1950. Black women were not only lynched, but they were also more likely to suffer sexual violence at the hands of white mobs. In 1911, a white mob kidnapped Laura Nelson and her teenage son from the Okemah County Jail after they were accused of shooting a white deputy sheriff. Members of the mob reportedly raped Ms. Nelson before hanging her and her son from a bridge near the Black part of town.

In 1918, Mary Turner was lynched in Georgia after she courageously spoke about against the lynching of her husband, Hayes Turner. Eight months pregnant, she was kidnapped, beaten, and hanged upside down by a white mob. Her unborn baby was cut from her abdomen and its head was crushed by a member of the mob. The grotesque slaughter of a pregnant Black woman reveals how Black women and mothers were dehumanized with impunity and exemplifies the violence Black people faced when they spoke out against lynching.

In the face of this violence, journalist and anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett exposed and challenged the specific racial and sexual violence against Black women. Ms. Wells-Barnett highlighted the sexual violence inflicted by white men in her report, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All its Phases. She noted that the misguided justification for lynching Black men - as punishment for raping white women - served to distract from the violence Black women experienced at the hands of white men. The victimization of Black women and children was repeatedly ignored, create patterns of neglect that can be seen today.