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Lynchings in America

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This article appeared on the BBC website today.


The US Senate has apologised for spending decades blocking efforts to make lynchings and mob violence against black Americans a federal crime.

Nearly 5,000 Americans - mostly black males - are documented as having been lynched between 1880 and 1960.

About 200 relatives of victims - and the only known lynching survivor alive today - witnessed the Senate apologise.

Senators repeatedly blocked anti-lynching legislation from being approved by Congress.

Nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced, three of which made it past the lower House of Representatives between 1920 and 1940.

But despite the support of seven US presidents, the Senate stopped any of them becoming law.

By making lynching a federal crime, the legislation would have allowed the central US government to prosecute those responsible, and overcome opposition from local police forces, who were often complicit in the crimes.

"There may be no other injustice in American history for which the Senate so uniquely bears responsibility," said Senator Mary Landrieu, who introduced the apology resolution.

The text apologises for the Senate's failure to act and "expresses the deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets of the Senate to the descendants of victims of lynching".

The vote was passed without opposition - though 20 of the 100 senators did not put their names to a statement supporting it.

Dan Duster, a descendant of anti-lynching crusader Ida B Wells, criticised those who did not sign.

"I think it's politics. They're afraid of losing votes from people of prejudice," he said.

Among the others in Washington was James Cameron, 91, who was one of three people abducted from jail in Indiana to be hanged by a mob in 1930.

As a noose was tightened round the 16-year-old's neck, someone in the crowd spoke up for him and he was reprieved. His two friends died.

"The apology is a good idea, but it still won't bring anyone back," said Mr Cameron.

"I hope that the next time it won't take so long to admit to our mistakes."

The resolution was proposed by Sen Landrieu, and Senator George Allen, from Virginia, after they read a pictorial history of racist violence: Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America.

Black people made up three-quarters of those lynched, but were not the only victims.

The apology coincides with the trial of a 79-year-old man over the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers - two of them white - in Mississippi.

Lynching victims are not the first to receive an apology from Congress. Apologies have also been offered to other persecuted groups, including Japanese-Americans.

But the potential scale of reparation payments has complicated attempts to win an apology to blacks for slavery.

Relatives of lynching victims make up a much smaller group.

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Hi John

Thank you for this interesting and important post. This certainly is an important point in the U.S. Senate's history... not of course as the lynching survivor of age 91, Mr James Cameron said, that it would bring the victims back. But just the fact that the Federal government has acknowledged the wrongs done. In this age of hate crimes it will be important to make lynching a federal crime, and it is not clear, I think, from the news story, whether that will now happen.

The other aspect that I found very interesting is the mention that the sponsors of the bill to ask the U.S. Senate to apologize, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Senator George Allen, from Virginia, decided to work together to introduce the resolution calling for the Senate apology after they read a pictorial history of racist violence: Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America. It is nice to see that the historians who put that book together, Hilton Als, Jon Lewis, Leon F. Litwack, James Allen (Editors), did not see their work go in vain.

I had also heard recently that the case of the racially motivated murder and mutilation of Emmett Till in August 1955 in Money, Mississippi is being reopened. See http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/ and http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/06/01/civil.rights.killing.ap/ for more on that case.

Best regards

Chris George

Edited by Christopher T. George
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  • 4 months later...

John wrote:

But the potential scale of reparation payments has complicated attempts to win an apology to blacks for slavery.

John, put this into your thought processes:

A U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, a Republican, conservative, anti-abortion obstetritian, was one of the sponsors (when he was in the House) of a bill to apologize for slavery.

I see a strong relationship between the abolitionist movement and the anti-abortion movement. I am convinced that if Wilbur Wilberforce was alive today he would fight as hard to end abortion as he did to end slavery. And by the way, John, I like your biography of Wilberforce. In fact, I believe your entire section on religion is fairly written and educational.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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John wrote:

But the potential scale of reparation payments has complicated attempts to win an apology to blacks for slavery.

John, put this into your thought processes:

A U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, a Republican, conservative, anti-abortion obstetritian, was one of the sponsors (when he was in the House) of a bill to apologize for slavery.

I see a strong relationship between the abolitionist movement and the anti-abortion movement. I am convinced that if Wilbur Wilberforce was alive today he would fight as hard to end abortion as he did to end slavery. And by the way, John, I like your biography of Wilberforce. In fact, I believe your entire section on religion is fairly written and educational.



Donna be suckin' up to John by failing to illucidate upon the ONLY REAL "reparations-for-slavery" argument that is legally and historically CORRECT !!

The Brit monarchy brought the first slaves to "the colonies" during the 1600s, and there was no U.S. Government at the time. And NOT all of the "slaves" were black.

For a period, the majority of imported slaves were the Irish folks, despite the use of the "polite" term -- "indentured servants".

Most of the blacks in my extended family agree that the first entities which should be the subjects of reparation demands are:

The Brit Monarchy [a forfeiture lien against the "British Crown Jewels", and ALL of the Billion$ in UK, Continental and overseas "real properties" owned by the Windsors, Battenbergs (Mountbattens after WWI), et al.];

The Portuguese Monarchy [a forfeiture lien against its "Crown Jewels", properties, etc.];

The Spanish Monarchy [ibid.];

The Nigerian Republic [specifically against the wealthy Hausa & Yoruba Tribes];

The French Republics (and past/current overseas departments, to include Martinique, St. Martin, Algeria, Morocco, djibouti, etc.) [lien upon the crown jewels & artifacts, whether considered part of the treasury or not];

The lawful governmental entities descended from the Arab Caliphates which acted autonomously during the 1600s forward [ibid., a lien aagainst their mineral resources]; and,

The Spanish plantation acreage (and value accrued) in Cuba, to be equally distributed amongst those African slave descendants currently in residence there, and those who were later shipped to Jamaica, Trinidad-Tobago, Antigua, etc. !!

The then extant international law [1700s] required the rebel American colonists to draft documents [later presented to European entities] which would be later incorporated first in "The Articles of Confederation", and later in the first ratified U.S. Constitution; articles/amendments guaranteeing a specific or general adoption of the English Common Law, and specifically inclusive were those "property rights" involving both slavery and servitude. Moreover, the new Constitution prohibited the future importation of slaves upon a date certain [1802].

However, the Brit monarchy continued the slave trade under the guise of issuing "Commissions to Cruise" [Letters of Marque to Privateers], which included the "Shanghai-ing of America sailors -- which caused the Virginia Chamber of Delegates to make formal protestations !!




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But here is another possibility re reparations:

Inner City Minister Sues Democratic Party For Reparations

Inner City Minister Sues Democratic Party For Reparations

[ Seattle , January 3, 2005 ] On December 10th 2004 , inner-city minister, Rev Wayne Perryman, - filed a class action Reparation lawsuit (in the United States District Court in Seattle Case No. CV04-2442), alleging “that because of their racist past practices the Democratic Party should be required to pay African Americans Reparations.‿ Perryman said “he based his case on the research that he gathered during the past five years while writing the three editions of his latest book: (click here to view in pdf format)

Unfounded Loyalty

An In-depth Look Into The Love Affair Between Blacks & Democrats

In his 100-page brief, Perryman concludes that the past racist policies and practices that were initiated against African Americans by the Democratic Party - were no different than the policies and practices that were initiated by the Nazi Party against the Jews. In both situations millions of lives were destroyed (physically, mentally and economically).

In his brief, Perryman told the court:

*That in an effort to impede and or deny African Americans the same constitutional rights afforded to all American citizens, the Democratic Party established a pattern of practice by promoting, supporting, sponsoring and financing racially bias entertainment, education, legislation, litigations, and terrorist organizations from 1792 to 1962 and continued certain practices up to 2002.

*The Democrat’s 210 years of racist practices and cover ups not only negatively affected the entire Black Race; but these practices infected our entire nation with the most contagious and debilitating social disease known to mankind, racism. With landmark litigation, racist legislation and profane defamation, Democrats spent substantial amounts of money to produce racist campaign literature and to support racist entertainment (i.e. Jim Crow minstrel shows, stage plays “The Klansman,‿ and movies, “The Birth of a Nation‿), all in an effort to prove to the world that African Americans were a racially inferior group that should be treated and classified as “property‿ and not as “citizens‿.

*During the past 21 decades the Democrats successfully disguised and concealed their horrific acts against the African Americans by operating and committing these acts under the following aliases: “the Confederacy,‿ “Jim Crow,‿ “Black Codes,‿ the “Dixiecrats‿ and the “Ku Klux Klan.‿ Congressional records, historical documents, and the letters and testimonies from several brave black citizens revealed that these groups weren’t separate independent organizations, but were actual auxiliaries, divisions and/or the legislative efforts of the Democratic Party. The debates on the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 further revealed that these auxiliaries were committed to use every means possible to carry out the Democrat’s racist agenda of “White Supremacy,‿ including: lynchings, murders, intimidation, mutilations, decapitations and racially bias legislation and adjudication.


Perryman said, “To conceal the truth of their racist past (and as part of their effort to deceive the public), the Democratic Party made a conscience decision not to mention or disclose their true and complete history. (See exhibit 1). On their official website they failed to disclose that as a Party:

· Democrats opposed the Abolitionist

· Democrats supported slavery and fought and gave their lives to expand it

· Democrats supported and passed the Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793 & 1854

· Democrats supported and passed the Missouri Compromise to protect slavery

· Democrats supported and passed the Kansas Nebraska Act to expand slavery

· Democrats supported and backed the Dred Scott Decision

· Democrats supported and passed Jim Crow Laws

· Democrats supported and passed Black Codes

· Democrats opposed educating blacks and murdered our teachers

· Democrats opposed the Reconstruction Act of 1867

· Democrats opposed the Freedman’s Bureau as it pertained to blacks

· Democrats opposed the Emancipation Proclamation

· Democrats opposed the 13th , 14th, and 15th Amendments to end slavery, make black citizens and give blacks the right to vote

· Democrats opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1866

· Democrats opposed the Civil Right Act of 1875 and had it overturned by U.S. Supreme Court

· Various Democrats opposed the 1957 Civil Rights Acts

· Various Democrats argued against the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Acts

· Various Democrats argued against the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Acts

· Various Democrats voted against the 1972 Equal Employment Opportunity Act

· Democrats supported and backed Judge John Ferguson in the case of Plessy v Ferguson

· Democrats supported the School Board of Topeka Kansas in the case of Brown v The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas .

· Southern Democrats opposed desegregation and integration

· Democrats started and supported several terrorist organizations including the Ku Klux Klan, an organization dedicated to use any means possible to terrorize African Americans and those who supported African Americans.‿

Congressional records reveal that there wouldn’t be a question of Reparations today had Democratic President Andrew Johnson signed Senate Bill 60 (in 1866) which would have given each African American family 40 acres and a mule. Instead, Johnson vetoed the Bill and continued to block other key pieces of legislation that were designed to bring about equality for African Americans.

Perryman further argues that:

During the past 200 years, our government operated under a two party system which directed, developed and determined the policies of our country. Whatever the government did or did not accomplish (particularly as it pertained to African Americans), was directly related to which political party was in power at the time.

On April 29, 1861 Democratic President Jefferson Davis told his Democratic Confederate Congress that: “Under the supervision of the superior race, their [blacks’] labor had been so directed not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South… [which made the South one of the 16th wealthiest places in the world]; and the productions in the South of cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourth of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to wants of civilized man….‿

Seven years later during the 1868 Presidential campaign, the Democratic Party’s campaign poster read: “This is a White Man’s Country - Let the White Men Rule.‿

At the turn of the century (1913) Democratic Senator Ben Tillman said, “We reorganized the Democratic Party with one plank, and the only plank, namely, that this is a white man’s country, and white men must govern it.‿ From 1792 to 2002 (a period of 210 years), the Democratic Party carried out their proud tradition of white man rule by never electing a black man to the United States Senate from their party.

From 1792 to 1962 the Democratic Party was more commonly referred to as the Party of White Supremacy. This was the period when most of the damage was done to African Americans (economically, physically, socially and mentally). It was during this period that the Democrats exhausted every effort to promote slavery, destroyed Reconstruction and introduced Black Codes, Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan.

The chronicles of history reveals that the Institution of Slavery and Jim Crow Laws weren’t promoted, protected and preserved by prominent individuals or by the federal government. They were promoted, protected and preserved by one political party and that party was the Democratic Party. Without their powerful political support, the institution of slavery and segregation would have ended long before 1865 and 1965.

The big question they had during the era of slavery was, whether or not a law or a person’s actions violated the Constitution. The goal of the Democrats was to never allow the Constitution to be amended to include blacks as citizens. They wanted the freedom to treat African Americans as property (not as humans), without federal interference (this was their primary reason for fighting for their so-called States Rights). This was also the reason why Democrats were opposed to adding the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution and why they praised and supported the Dred Scott Decision. Republicans rushed to have these Amendments added to the Constitution while the states that were under Democrat control were still separated from the Union . Republicans knew they would have a difficult time getting these Amendments passed if the Democrats from the Southern States came back and joined their congressional (Democrat) counterparts in the North.

During era of slavery and Reconstruction the Democrats were primarily interested in what they could do to Blacks, not what they could do for Blacks. From 1792 to 1962 the Democrats as a party, did not support or pass one law that was designed to give African Americans equality (in 170 years). With the exception of Truman’s efforts to integrate the military, every law that was introduced and passed by Democrats during this period was designed to hurt blacks, none were passed to help blacks. Perryman said, “Had the Democrats attempted to pass these same types of laws in 1864 that they claim credit for in 1964, the laws in 1964 would not have been necessary. Instead, in 1866 they passed Black Codes, in 1875 they passed Jim Crow Laws and in 1894 they passed the Repeal Act to repeal various pieces of previously passed Civil Rights legislation that were designed to give African Americans equality.

Perryman is quick to point out that the Democratic Party of today is not the same party of yesterday. However, like in the case of Michael Skakel (the Kennedy nephew who killed Martha Moxley), the Democrats like Michael Skakel must pay for their past actions. Perryman said, “The Skakels and the Moxleys were best friends and neighbors, but when the Moxleys learned that it was Skakel who murdered their daughter in 1975, they did not excuse his action because of the long term friendship. They made him pay, even though it was 25 years later. The same applies to the current relationship between the Blacks and Democrats. The Democrats should not expect Blacks to ignore the Democrat’s past racist practices, simply because of the current friendship.‿

Perryman’s research and 100-page brief include the works of our nation’s top history and law professors including African American Historian, Professor John Hope Franklin, Princeton’s History Professor James McPherson, Professor Hebert Donald of Harvard, Professor Allen Trelease of North Carolina, and Professor Bernard Schwartz of New York University’s School of Law, plus congressional records and documentaries from PBS and the History Channel.

Perryman said, “since our experiences are similar to those inflicted on the Jews by the Nazi Party and since Reparations under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 affords Plaintiffs redress for past injuries; and amends for the wrong inflicted,‿ he asked the court for the following:

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, on Plaintiff own behalf and on behalf of the Class, prays for judgment as follows:

1. Declaring this action to be a proper class action and certifying Plaintiff as Class representative under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure;

2. Awarding compensatory damages and rescission in favor of the Plaintiff and other members of the Class against the Defendant for the damages sustain as a result of wrongdoing of the defendants, together with interest thereon;

3. And as part of the compensatory damages the Plaintiffs recommends the following:

a. That an education fund be set up equivalent to the amount of $25,000 for every African American age 25 and younger that is currently alive as of the date of this lawsuit. The fund will be used solely for private school, college and trade tuitions and related educational costs.

b. That under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which authorizes a public education fund, to educate the public of the wrongs that took place, the Plaintiffs ask for funding to fund a major motion picture and film series depicting all of the events that were highlighted in this lawsuit (and others not mentioned) and that this film and major motion picture be distributed to every public and private school in America to be viewed by students as a regular part of their history curriculum for the next 50 years. We further ask that the Lead Plaintiff and the consultants of his choice be paid a consulting fee including traveling and related expenses to help produce the motion picture and the film series. The consulting fee will be the standard consulting fee for similar types of major motion picture projects.

c. We ask that the Defendant pay each African American citizen ages 26- 35 that is currently alive as of the date of this lawsuit, a total sum of $25,000 in reparations, each adult ages 36-45, $45,000 in reparations, each adult ages 46-55, $50,000 in reparations each and each citizen ages 56 and older $100,000 in reparations.

4. Awarding Plaintiff fees and expenses incurred in this action, including reasonable allowance of fees for attorneys to administer the Class Action claim and appropriate consultant fees.

5. Granting extraordinary equitable and/or injunctive relief as permitted by law, equity and federal and state statutory provisions sued on hereunder, including attaching, impounding, imposing a constructive trust upon or otherwise restricting the proceeds of the Defendant’s investments, checking, savings or other assets so as to assure that Plaintiff has an effective remedy.

6. Ordering a formal apology to African Americans for the wrong that was committed during the duration of the Defendants’ tenure as an organization or political party.

7. Granting such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

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