‘Fire in a canebrake’ is quite a scorcher by Laura Wexler and which focuses on the last mass lynching which occurred in the American Deep South, the one in the heartland of rural Georgia, precisely Walton County, Georgia on 25th July, 1946, less than a year after the Second World War. Wexler narrates the story of the four black sharecroppers who met their end ‘at the hand of person’s unknown’ when an undisclosed number of white men simply shot the blacks to death. The author concentrates on the way the evidence was collected in those eerie post war times and how the FBI was actually involved in the case, but how nothing came of their extensive investigations.
Interestingly, the book does not focus solely on the Georgia lynching, but delves into the actual study of the word lynching which was coined by legendary judge Charles B Lynch of Virginia to indicate extra-legal justice meted out to those in the frontier where the rule of law was largely absent. In fact, Wexler continues to analyse how the term lynching began to be used to describe mob violence in the 19th century, when the victim was deemed to have been guilty before being tried by due process in a court of law.
The Moore’s Ford lynching shows that the Ku Klux Klan was still very powerful in Georgia just after the Second World War. Blacks who lived in these areas which were overwhelmingly rural and contained large plantations owned by white men were regularly browbeaten into submission by the white minority and sporadic outbreaks of violence were not uncommon. There was a wealth of evidence against several white men who were prominent citizens of the county, but no prosecution was ever conducted and the murderers went to their graves without having paid for their crime....
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...es such as Georgia to deny blacks their civil rights as well as federal protection. Wexler reveals the shameful standards of the investigation which was simply a cover up from beginning to end. There is also some feeling with regards to the racism and hatred of the white townspeople who almost thought that the blacks actually deserved their terrible fate.
‘Fire in a Canebrake’ is important since it sheds new light on the last mass lynching in America. It certainly shows the ambivalence and poor standards of the investigation into the case by the authorities as well as the terrible racism of the common townsfolk who could not care a jot about the fate of the murdered blacks. The book is a clear indictment of the terrible plague of lynching.
Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America by Laura Wexler, Scribner, January 13, 2004 288pp
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“Hellhounds” in the Trouble in Mind by Leon Litwack: In this reading the author graphically describes lynching as punishment and deterrence for “high-falutin’” blacks. In page 292, distinctions were drawn between a “good” and “bad” lynching – depending on who executed the sentence and the atmosphere of the punishment.
In the rosewood and racial violence in January 1923 lynching was common in the u’s but in the south of the united states two years before representative l.c. dyer of the Missouri introduced a bill in the house of representatives to make lynching federal crime. Dyer acted out as a voice for blacks the bill passed the house but not the south they prevented a vote resulting in the measure’s leaving the state to deal with the lynching. Although lynching had died down by sixty-four in 1921, 1922 fifty-seven years ended and lynching had fifty-one victims that were black and six that were white. That something I don’t understand fifty-one black’s not to count the ones that were gunned down and I believe that most of them that died did not have anything to do with it the stuff they deserve was harsh.lynchings,shoutings,burning,and whatever else they was just harsh. In 1923 there were several murdered. The first week of January, rosewood was the center that became a riot, massacre, between the races causing a race war between the two.
She uses narrative, photographs, and images to summon a painful history of lynchings, white rage and riot, medical malpractice and neglect, executions, and neighborhood violence. Her research uncovered how people in the past had specialized caskets sold to African Americans, formal burial photos of infants, and deathbed stories, and she unveiled a glimpse...
This motivation and purpose are most evident in the quality of Wexler’s writing, made outstanding by her painstaking awareness throughout the text of, firstly, such fundamental things as setting and the introduction of characters, and, secondly, the overarching threads of, for instance, national and state politics, which set the larger stage for the story. In her text, Wexler briefly mentions a prominent figure in the NAACP, Walter White, noting his biting statements regarding the lynching a ...
Southern Horror s: Lynch Law in All Its Phases by Ida B. Wells took me on a journey through our nations violent past. This book voices how strong the practice of lynching is sewn into the fabric of America and expresses the elevated severity of this issue; she also includes pages of graphic stories detailing lynching in the South. Wells examined the many cases of lynching based on “rape of white women” and concluded that rape was just an excuse to shadow white’s real reasons for this type of execution. It was black’s economic progress that threatened white’s ideas about black inferiority. In the South Reconstruction laws often conflicted with real Southern racism. Before I give it to you straight, let me take you on a journey through Ida’s
Wells, Ida B. Southern Horrors. Lynch Law in All Its Phase. New York: New York Age Print, 1892. Print. 6.
The racially targeted lynchings were rare before the civil war since killing the black slaves would have resulted in a loss of property and profit. From 1880 to 1940 more than five thousand African Americans were killed by the US white vigilante mobs that also included Christians (page, 3). Christians were on the forefront in participation in lynching where black persons were killed without any cause or chance to face a justified death. The Christians that did not participate directly in any lynchings were silent on the issue. The act of lynching was identified as the symbolic re-enactment of the fructification in the twentieth century . This exposes the Christian hypocrisy and wilful blindness of white Americans Christians who had a reconciliation
While researching, he found that the act of lynching was a way of restoring honor to a person that was wrong. Dray writes about the name lynch, coming from a Quaker named Charles lynch. Lynch was known for his foul mouth. He set up improvised courts that routinely sentenced suspected horse thieves and British sympathizers to beating during the war. Lynch was later sewed by the victims of his makeshift court system and he was exonerated. The court felt Charles lynch was appropriate given the stressful circumstances. Dray added this passage to demonstration America government’s Laissez-faire attitude when came to civil matters. Another key point, Dray added, was the assault on Sen Charles Sumner. Comparatively to Lynch victims, Charles Sumner was assaulted for allegedly insulting a Senator’s Butler. The attack was considered justified, even though the attack happened at Sumner's office. It was said to be the proper act, done in the proper place at the proper time . Dray's restating these events helps solidify his claim of lynching is not just in racism. Dray did not discredit Afro-American as victims in later years. However, in the south early years’ blacks was viewed as property. Because of that, Dray conclude that early lynching was psycho-cultural
On July 25, 1946, two young black couples- Roger and Dorothy Malcom, George and Mae Murray Dorsey-were killed by a lynch mob at the Moore's Ford Bridge over the Appalachee River connecting Walton and Oconee Counties (Brooks, 1). The four victims were tied up and shot hundreds of times in broad daylight by a mob of unmasked men; murder weapons included rifles, shotguns, pistols, and a machine gun. "Shooting a black person was like shooting a deer," George Dorsey's nephew, George Washington Dorsey said (Suggs C1). It has been over fifty years and this case is still unsolved by police investigators. It is known that there were atleast a dozen men involved in these killings. Included in the four that were known by name was Loy Harrison. Loy Harrison may not have been an obvious suspect to the investigators, but Harrison was the sole perpetrator in the unsolved Moore's Ford Lynching case. The motive appeared to be hatred and the crime hurt the image of the state leaving the town in an outrage due to the injustice that left the victims in unmarked graves (Jordon,31).
Between 1882 and 1952 Mississippi was the home to 534 reported lynchings’ more than any other state in the nation (Mills, 1992, p. 18). Jim Crow Laws or ‘Black Codes’ allowed for the legalization of racism and enforced a ‘black way’ of life. Throughout the deep-south, especially in rural communities segr...
Laura Wexler’s Fire In a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America, is an spectacular book that depicts what, many refer to as the last mass lynching. The last mass lynching took place on July 25, 1946, located in Walton County, Georgia. On that day four black sharecroppers (Roger Malcom, Dorothy Malcom, George Dorsey and Mae Murray Dorsey) are brutally murdered by a group of white people. This book presents an epidemic, which has plagued this nation since it was established. Being African American, I know all too well the accounts presented in this book. One of the things I liked most about Fire in A Canebrake was that Wexler had different interpretations of the same events. One from a black point of view and the other from a white point of view. Unfortunately both led to no justice being served. Laura Wexler was
Following their success during the Reconstruction Era, whites ensured that blacks were immobilized in society by inflicting high rates of violence against them. Many individuals were afraid to act against whites and their immoral actions and laws. Ida B. Wells reported in A Red Record that "during a single year, 1892, 241 men, women, and children across 26 states were lynched. Of the 241, 160 people were identified as African Americans, which represented an increase of 200 percent over the ten-year period since 1882” (Wells, 1997, p. 10) . During and Post Reconstruction, violence toward African Americans increased dramatically which left many blacks helpless due to fears of being targeted by mobs. Post-Reconstruction saw the development of a huge number of mobs with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) being the most prominent of the mobs. Mobs inflicted violence against blacks most often in the form of lynchings and beatings. These mob attacks targeted not only men, but women and children. Ida B. Wells viewed lynching as "a crime against American values" (Wells, 1997, p. 27). One of the most important takeaways of this book that blacks did not choose to submit to the violence inflicted against them but were crippled by it. Those such as Ida B. Wells fought to have the violence against blacks
The Scottsboro Trial and the trial of Tom Robinson are almost identical in the forms of bias shown and the accusers that were persecuted. The bias is obvious and is shown throughout both cases, which took place in the same time period. Common parallels are seen through the time period that both trials have taken place in and those who were persecuted and why they were persecuted in the first place. The thought of "All blacks were liars, and all blacks are wrongdoers," was a major part of all of these trails. A white person's word was automatically the truth when it was held up to the credibility of someone whom was black. Both trials were perfect examples of how the people of Alabama were above the law and could do whatever they wanted to the black people and get away with it. In both trials lynch mobs were formed to threaten the black people who were accused. Judge Hornton tried many times to move the case to a different place so that a fair trial could take place and not be interrupted by the racist people. Finally was granted to move the case even though the lynch mobs threatened to kill everyone who was involved in the case if it were to be moved. In this essay the bias and racism in both trials are going to be clarified and compared to each other.
Natasha Trethewey’s “Incident” and Claude McKay’s “The Lynching” are both written about hate crimes. “Incident” is the generational retelling of the author’s family that witnessed a cross burning on their lawn, as a warning, with unsettling images of the aftermath as well as hints of fear permanently embedded in the family’s memory. Each time it is retold, the experience becomes more dauntingly descriptive. “The Lynching” illustrates the picture of a grim and saddening sight of a malicious lynching in which a burned body hangs in front of a crowd of spectators. The author describes how the victim finds peace through his terrible death, but also how the spectators engage in cruel sinful celebration. John W. Phillips vividly describes actual