Critical Editions Produced by Students at Rider University
The Crisis Magazine is an African American periodical founded in 1910 by W.E.B Du Bois, who served as the magazine’s editor. For over one hundred years The Crisis served to bring about “a civil rights, history, politics, and cultural and seeks to educate and challenge its readers about issues that continue to plague Africans Americans and other communities of color” (The Crisis online). The Crisis is the official magazine of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and for years, both institutions fought for civil rights by informing the African American community of their rights and by promoting African American success. The magazine was cofounded by Oswald Garrison Villard, J. Max Barber, Charles Edward Russell, Kelly Miller, W. S. Braithwaite, and M. D. Maclean. Together with Du Bois they gave African Americans a political voice. Volume 8, number 4 of The Crisis examines the importance of African American education and the effects it has on the community as well as the country, while simultaneously acknowledging lynching as the result of the anger stemming from of African American advancements.
W.E. B Du Bois, Oswald Garrison Villard, J. Max Barber, Charles Edward Russell, Kelly Miller, W. S. Braithwaite, and M. D. Maclean contributed to the advancement and the civil rights of African American through the creation of The Crisis and other activist movements. According to Bio.com W.E.B Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington Massachusetts, and died on August 27, 1963. He studied at the University of Berlin and Harvard University. He taught sociology, and economics at Atlanta University. He is known for his work in sociology, but most importantly his activist work as the voice of the “New Negro” for black education, against lynching. Throughout his life he fought for the equal rights of African Americans with white Americans through organizations like the Niagara movement which he was the leader of. He co founded the NAACP in 1909.
Along with W.E.B Du Bois, Oswald Garrison Villard was a cofounder of The Crisis. He was born on March 13, 1872 in Wiesbaden Germany. Christopher T. Blue from The Black past confirms that Willard studied American history at Harvard University in 1893. Later during his life he joined the Philadelphia Press. After leaving the publication, he worked with at the Evening Post as an editor of the Saturday features page. He sates that he is also known for his involvement with the American Anti- Imperialist League. He, J. Max Barber, Charles Edward Russell and Kelly Miller were the very important to the publication of the magazine. J. Max Barber, co founder of The Crisis Magazine was born on July 5, 1878 in Blackstock, South Carolina, and died on September 20, 1949. Barber attended Benedict College and Virginia Union University. Earlier in his life he worked in the Voice of The Negro, which was a magazine in Atlanta, which he then become the editor in chief of. He was a cofounder of the Niagara Movement along with W.E.B Du Bois. Later in his life he was forced to leave Atlanta because of the growing threats of whites. He then moved to Philadelphia where he became a teacher and later became a dentist. J. Max Barber was a very opinionated mad who made enemies with a lot of people like Booker T. Washington because of his radical thinking.
Charles Edward Russell and Kelly Miller were also important cofounders of The Crisis. According to John Simkin from Spartacus Education, Russell was born on September 25 1860 in Davenport, Iowa and died on April 23 1941. He was a journalist, magazine editor, and political activist. He was awarded with the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. He was a writer for many magazines, and was also a cofounder of the NAACP along with W.E.B Du Bois. In 1908 Russel joined the socialist party of America. Kelly Miller was born on July 18, 1863 in Winnsboro, South Carolina. He was a mathematician, and a sociologist. He attended John Hopkins University and the historical black college, Howard University where he studied Latin, Greek, and mathematics. These two men along with the other founder of The Crisis magazine were known for their activist work. They contributed to the growing education of African Americans, and they served as the political voice of the “New Negro.”
With the help of these men, The Crisis served as an educational outlet for all African Americans from the time of its creation to present time. The Crisis online states that the magazine has worked to promote black education by issuing analytical essays to alert them of their rights, and how to fight for them. Educated African Americans were influenced by the magazine to get their education and be part of the new movement of black advancement. The Crisis continuously promoted educated black people by shining a light on their accomplishment in the magazine, and it encouraged others to get an educated.
The growing influence of education created more animosity towards the black community from whites, and led to countless lynchings as a means to assert white supremacy. Lynching is defined as hanging someone for an alleged offense without a legal trial. In this particular issue of The Crisis, Vol. 8, No. 4, lynching is examined in the passage “The Burden.” The piece illustrated the number of colored men and women lynched from 1885-1914, which totaled 2,684 individuals. Although lynching is displayed briefly in this volume of The Crisis as well as several other issues, the topic had a greater purpose to alert individuals of the prejudices they had to endure. Du Bois’s acknowledgment of lynching when many were afraid of publically speaking of the issue in his magazine proved that black people were not going to allow its horrors to prevent them from growing intellectually.
The Crisis, Vol. 8, No. 4 largely advertises African American schools to influence its readers to get an education. It lists the many options provided to the community that can appeal to a vast majority, and can encourage them to find the best school for them based on their preferred skills, and their budget. It also acknowledges the numerous African American educational achievers as a way to support them in their triumphs. The issue also acknowledges the upsetting increase in lynching in the country stemmed from the anger of white Americans. Lynching of African Americans becomes a public spectacle, and it evokes fear in all African Americans throughout the country. The Crisis recognizes the importance of African American throughout the struggles and most importantly, the achievements.
The Importance of Education
Since its creation in 1910, The Crisis magazine has been an outlet for African Americans to voice their political agendas while promoting the importance of education in the community. The Crisis was aimed at literate blacks to inform, motivate, and educate them. With its growth, The Crisis became the aspiration for illiterate African Americans to get an education and be part of the movement. Volume 8, number 4 of The Crisis examines the accomplishments of African Americans in education. It promotes the institutions available for the community, and aims to push more people to attend them. From the late 1860s to mid-20th century African American education has grown immensely with the help of important activists who created institutions to benefit the community. The African American education system became of great importance in the early- twentieth century because of the growing need to end the oppression of African Americans in the United States. By the end of 1920, about 3,700 black men and women earned college degrees, and the numbers grew throughout history. Throughout the years African Americans endured hardships to create, enhance, and attend schools, but those hardships were proven to be worth it because of the immense rewards.
According the “African -American Education in Nacogdoches County” by Jeffery Roth and J.B. Watson, Booker T. Washington was one of the many activists who helped build the education system of African Americans the United States but in particular in Nacogdoches, Texas from 1890 through 1970. He and others believed that the growth in education in poor southern states would minimize black suffering and help gain better opportunities in America for blacks. Booker T. Washington and others promoted education to increase the literacy of the many illiterate blacks in the south. Because southern states did not provide enough educational funding for African American children, Booker T. Washington and wealthy philanthropist Julius Rosenwald took matter into their own hands and created educational institutions that helped shape black leaders in America. The advocacy of such leaders manifested in the creation of institutions like the Tuskegee Institute. With the realization of the importance of education, “Black communities were compelled to do as much as they could in building the schoolhouses by making cash contributions, and donations of material and labor” (Roth, Watson 14). By 1916, black children made up almost half of the students enrolled in education systems.
Wilma King’s African American Childhoods: Historical Perspectives From Slavery To Civil Rights acknowledges that once educational institutions were created for the black community, they became sources for survival. African Americans educated themselves and their children because education provided literacy to the community and being literate allow them to protect themselves from being exploited by the whites. Education was seen as a source of empowerment for the African Americans. King states in the book that with the growth of interest in education, more students attended school. By “March 1864 and January 1866, 14,000 children enrolled in nearly 150 schools staffed by 265 teachers” (King 87). Those numbers grew immensely over the years although blacks dealt with abundant struggles of racism, and violence. In 1868, General Samuel C. Armstrong for freed African Americans created the Hampton Normal Agriculture Institute. The school provided industrial, manual, and Christian education. Black people saw education as an opportunity to become greater than what was expected of them. The institutions provided to blacks enabled to figure out their skills, and apply them in different carrier fields. Education also played an important role in the lives of the students at home and in the community. King also states that educators believed that educated blacks would behave in civilized manner, and avoided confrontations; whites would accept them as members of the American community.
African American education grew largely during the early twentieth century. African Americans Derek Walcott created bodies of literature that were taught in prestige black colleges. Institutions like Wilberforce University; the first black female college, the American School of Athens, Howard University, Atlanta University, and more gave African Americans the opportunity to get higher education and contribute to the American society. In The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey From Slavery To Scholarship, Scarborough mentions, “For weal or woe, the Negro colleges and universities of today are being rapidly manned and managed entirely by the Negro himself” (Scarborough 67). These educators were well trained, and enthusiastic about the education of African Americans from the end of the nineteenth century to mid twentieth century. Scarborough also mentions the amount of hope his parents and former slaves parents had for the next generation to overcome their suppression by getting an education and breaking through all barriers. Thanks to the affordability of the colleges and universities, “One could then go through Oberlin comfortably on $250 to $300 a year, and keep up society and class dues, attend concerts, and dress respectably” (Scarborough 48). The low tuition rates of many schools allowed people Scarborough to go through college and become successful later on. The American Association of Educators of Coloured Youth was created promote and created the accessibility of education to young African Americans, and Scarborough was proudly one of its directors. He was a perfect example of the many African Americans who persevered through oppression because of education, and became a large role in the success of many other African Americans.
In “Teaching Then And Now: Black Female Scholars And The Mission To Move Beyond Borders.” Shewanee Howard- Baptiste examines the road for education for black females in America. She discovers that at the turn of the twentieth century, growing numbers of both black males and females attended college. Unexpectedly, many females challenged social expectations and obtained higher education for themselves. African American women made it their goal to reach higher education and become educators despite the struggles of the time. On the road of higher education, black women found themselves being given an overwhelming amount of work as educators. Black female teachers had to deal with discrimination in the work place, excess amount of work, and lack of benefits like tenure. Black females sought education for self-growth. Starting in the beginning of the twentieth century, more black women went on to become better educated and received higher degrees. Baptiste points out that “By 1910, Black women comprised approximately 17% of the estimated 3,700 Blacks who had earned college degrees” (10). Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, Georgiana Simpson, and Eva Beatrice Dykes achieved great academic achievements, proving that black women were intellectuals and could provide great resources to the black community, and the American society. These women were the first African American women in the United States to receive their doctorates. These women faced similar struggles of racism, and sexism on the road to the higher education. The article then examines the similar struggles black female educators still face today in the twenty first century. African American women proved that they were capable of self and communal advancement by defying the social norms of them time.
In Luther P. Jackson and a Life For Civil Rights, Jackson examines the educational fate he has for African Americans. Many African Americans went to trade schools, which were what Luther Jackson, believed was best for the African American. There they learned physical skills in order to get into the manual work industries. “Although Jackson saw a place for technical education, he identified with the effort to link higher education to professional advancement” (Dennis 35). By the 1920s more African Americans were attaining a Ph.D. and were becoming successful in the United States. Jackson believed in the need for African Americans to fight and become greater than what was expected of them, and “The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History alone introduced him to a world of like-minded professionals motivated by personal ambition and the hunger for racial justice” (Dennis 36). His intelligence and strive led to his many successes which offered him a job with a salary of $2,100. His wife Johnella Frazer like many other women focused educating the community, and together they embodied the African American educational dream.
African Americans have gone through great triumphs in education from the late 1860s to mid-20th century. In the late nineteenth century a growing number of children attended schools established by African Americans themselves. People like Booker T Washington and W.E.B Du Bois, helped create institutions that influenced the lives of all African Americans, and the United States of American as a whole. By the early and mid twentieth century black men and women earned higher degrees of education. Education provided the knowledge to fight for civil rights and suppress the discrimination put upon the black community. The perseverance of those who created outlets for the African community to succeed, and African Americans who made it their duty to use those outlets mad a great difference in the history of the American Negro. The goal of The Crisis Volume 8, number 4 was to advertise many black schools for their audience to know about. The issue attempted to influence its readers to attend school, and prove themselves to the rest of the community.
Caitlyn M. Craddock
The Hidden Truth of Americas History: Lynching
Undeniably, the United States has a gruesome and ugly past that many, including the curriculum of our current education, fail to realize in association to racism. We are taught only that after the end of slavery, America progressed toward racial integration. Very few school districts include lynching in their curriculums, proving that the history of America is condensed to only show the good, instead of educating its students, citizens, on both the good and bad. One of those things that are hidden from our necessary education is lynching. Lynching is defined as an “extrajudicial punishment by an informal group, it is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob, often by hanging, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate a minority group” (Wikipedia). The history of our nation, both bad and good, is important to know because it will help to have knowledge of where we stand in the past, present, and the future based on America’s history. Through photography displaying the aftermath of a lynching and its role in keeping it around and producing anti-lynching images, to the KKK’s (Ku Klux Klan) revival in increasing the number of lynching’s after the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation to Emmett Till’s gruesome murder, which included be lynched, expressing that it is not only the victim of a lynching that is affected by its horrific intentions the families are as well, this topic should undeniably be inserted into our current educational curriculum to help illustrate the past, the bad, of the United States history.
Photography played an enormous role in lynching. It keep this horrific phenomenon around but also played a crucial role of propaganda that showed anti-lynching photographs (Apel & Smith, pg 16). In fact “making a photograph became part of the ritual, helping to objectify and dehumanize the victims and, for some, increasing the hideous pleasure. Photographs were souvenirs of lynching, keepsakes that could be shown as proof that one was there” (Apel & Smith, pg 16). Amy Wood’s book Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940, when it was reviewed by Moriah, states that the reason lynching was so successful was because it became a tradition passed on throughout generations. In contrast Apel and Smith have a similar idea when they state that lynching photographs were “a tool of the mob, used to determine how a lynching should be pursued, announced, remembered, and understood. Lynching was choreographed according to a sequence and pace that the crowds knew well” (pg 14). They also state that the most disturbing factor were the pictures of lynching themselves. The pictures not only captured the mutilated and swinging bodies of those victims that were lynched, but all too frequently showed the “proud, laughing, self-righteous crowds who both attended and participated in the lynchings” (Apel & Smith, pg 4). When viewing these photographs the viewer often forgets that they only depict a small part of the huge crowd that was gathered to lynch the victim and only a glimpse of a more horrific ordeal that took place before the photo was captured (Apel & Smith pg 12). “ Though rare and terrifying before-and-after lynching photographs do exist, and a few images even document the process of murder, most lynching photographs are postmortem images” ( Apel & Smith, pg 12). Although photography was used to continue lynching it also was used to promote anti-lynching propaganada. The Crisis magazine that was founded by W.E.B. Du Bois showed its first anti-lynching photograph in the December 1911 issue (volume 3, number 2). The photo, entitled “Jesus Christ in Georgia”, was of a large wooden cross with a portrayal of Jesus’s face in the center as he gazes to the right corner where a lynched African American male victim is hanging in with a painfully sorrowful look (Wood, pg 188). Despite Du Bois effort of this anti-lynching photo, a 1912 postcard, shown in the front of this critical edition, was put into the magazine showcasing that lynching had not stopped but was progressing as the postcard depicted that white southerners were in competition with the white northerners in how many African Americans could be lynched (Wood, pg 187). The white southerners from New York sent this postcard as “a reply to Mr. Holmes from Alabama”, as indicated in Amy Wood’s Lynching and Spectacle Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940. As for the side of the postcard it read “This is the way we do them down here. The last lynching has not been put on card yet. Will put you on our regular mailing list. Expect one a month on the average” (Wood, pg 187). The postcard and the “Jesus Christ in Georgia” both being shown in The Crisis show that although photography was used to denounce lynching, it was also used to promote it.
The KKK (Ku Klux Klan) is a “secret organization in the southern U.S., active for several years after the Civil War, which aimed to suppress the newly acquired powers of blacks and to oppose carpetbaggers from the North, and which was responsible for many lawless and violent proceedings” (Wikipedia). Although the original Klan (Ku Klux Klan) was established in 1865 the numbers of participants in this organization at that time are unknown (Wikipedia). This is interesting because the purpose of the KKK was to maintain white supremacy in the South, because whites felt at this time that it was under threat after there defeat in the Civil War. So wouldn’t it make the most sense that when a purpose is made for such a secret organization that it would be at the time it is first invented to have the most participants? This was proved wrong when the second KKK, after the firsts disappearance in the 1870s, was inspired to revive in 1915 by a the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation directed by D.W. Griffith’s because it glorified the first Klan as American saviors (Wikipedia). In fact the white hood and cross that our nation has been accustomed to seeing this film also inspired the KKK wear. This film had an intensive impact as indicated before on the emergence of the 2nd Klan of the KKK, but what is surprising is that it was the first movie ever seen inside the white house while U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was in presidency (1913-1921). In association to the film itself the entire second half of the film shows a visual dramatization of pro-lynching discourse, “one that validates mob violence as the necessary and righteous defense against black political and sexual insurgency” (Wood, pg 151). Although a lynching is only shown in one scene, when the “Klan ‘executes’ a former slave named Gus (Walter Long) for his would-be rape of the virginal Flora Cameron (Mae Marsh)” (Wood, pg 151), it is the first act of the Klan performing in the film and it shows “the liberation of the Cameron family from black rule, and ultimately their redemption of the South and the nation” (Wood, pg 151) which is why this film contributed so highly to the revival of the KKK with its 2nd Klan. Also, this film proved to be a propaganda type of material that increased lynching worldwide to promote the purpose of the KKK, the purpose was to ensure white supremacy in the South. The fact that it was seen in the white house can also be assumed that it contributed to citizens thinking that this was the right way to take “justice” into their own hands because the President obviously thought, with showing the film in the white house, that the KKK was to be seen as “saviors”.
Emmett Louis Till (July 25th 1941- August 28th 1955) was a fourteen year old African American teenager whose “lynching was not just ‘the best advertised lynching,’ but also served as the best ‘advertisement’ for the simple injustice of white supremacy… (Wood, pg 267). While visiting relatives in the small town of Money in Mississippi it has been said, not proven, that Till flirted with a married white woman, Carolyn Bryant, in a small convenience store (Emmett Till). Shortly after this supposed flirting, Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, abducted, beat, mutilated, shot (above his right ear), and lynched Till by a “fan blade which was fastened around his neck with barbed wire” (Emmett Till) that weighed his body down in the Tallahatchie River where they disposed of Till’s body. Upon authorities finding Till’s body his mother, Mamie Till Bradley, decided to “powerfully and effectively turn his quiet lynching in a small southern town into a national scandal” (Apel & Smith, pg 61) by having an open casket at the funeral. The open casket funeral lasted for four days, it is estimated that around 100,000 to 250,000 people waited in a line for hours just to view Till’s body (Apel & Smith, pg 61). Till’s mother, over the course of the four day funeral, “allowed the black press to take photographs. The most famous of these photographs was a close-up of Till dressed in a tuxedo with his face mutilated beyond recognition…” (Apel & Smith, pg 61), this picture can be seen in the narrations part of this critical edition. This specific picture “circulated in national black magazines…” such as The Crisis (Apel & Smith, pg 61). By Mamie Till Bradley allowing pictures to be taken she “shifted the emphasis of earlier white supremacist photographs of spectacle lynching from the shaming of the black subject to a black-controlled “spectacle funeral” that refused to realize the horror and grief of racial violence” (Apel & Smith, pg 64). Although Emmett Till’s life ended very abruptly his “life became a life that counted, a loss that mattered, and a death to be mourned, galvanizing the movement for black civil rights…” (Apel & Smith, pg 64) it truly showed just how evil America’s history was by harming a teenager because of a supposed reason that was not even proven to be correct. It also proves just how damaging a lynching can be. It is not only the victim that is damaged it is the family of the victim, the community and the nation that is also effected from this tradition-like horror that was of this time period known as lynching.
Lynching in this Crisis Issue
In association to lynching in particular in this issue of The Crisis, volume 8, number 4, the section entitled “Votes For Women”, pg 179, shows a conversation with a New Haven African American Woman. When asked, “Why the women were silent on the lynching of colored people in the South?” (pg 179, paragraph 2, lines 17-19) the woman responds “ We have to take up the most important subjects, we cannot bother with everything under the sun and there are so many other things more important than lynching” (pg 179, paragraph 2-3, lines 21-25). This view of lynchings, deaths, being ignored for women’s suffrage is a weird view to have. African Americans are dying, not willingly, not for a good reason, not because of old age, but because whites think it is ok to take matters into their own hands when it comes to delivering justice. This was one of the reasons I chose this topic. How do people, human beings, look at other human beings being put to death for something they may have not done without a legal trial and respond “there are so many other things more important than lynchings” (pg 179, paragraph 2-3, lines 21-25), this view is absurd, especially in The Crisis given that it was intended for an audience of African Americans. This is the only person that is not credited or named in The Crisis for a part that they did. Another section entitled “The Burden” , pg 197, starts off by displaying the total number of colored men and women lynched without trial from 1885-1913, which totaled 2,662.From January to June, six months, of 1914, when this issue was written, 22 deaths were counted. Upon lynching becoming a worldwide exercised phenomenon it was found that the numbers of deaths by lynching of African Americans tied coincidently from year to year. For example, the years’ 1888/1889 both had 95 men/women lynched, 1900/1901 had 107, 1902/1903 had 86, and lastly 1911/1912 had 63. To conclude this section in particular in the issue shows that lynching, among other phenomenon, proves within itself to captivate individuals throughout generations to keep continuing with this tradition-like horror. As indicated above in 1914 there were only 22 deaths of men/women by lynching’s, but given that there was only six months shown, January to June, and that World War 1 broke out in July of the same year it’s clearly shown that lynching ceased.
To conclude this essay I would like to restate that lynching, although it is a ugly and horrific past of the United States, needs to be shown to its citizens, students, and incorporated into our educational curriculum. Photography and the KKK’s revival with the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation proved to continue lynching in our nation. Photography also helped to try to stop it through anti-lynching photos, but ultimately failed. The take away point of this entire essay is to realize that with Emmett Till’s murder came effects on his family, our community, and our nation. Although it was intended for one person, Emmett Till, to die a part of the United States did also because of its “limitations and vulnerabilities of its American democracy” (Emmett Till). Emmett Till was a young man who was just in the area to spend time with relatives in Money, Mississippi. He failed to realize that it was not safe. His mother even “testified that she instructed her son to watch his manners in Mississippi and that should a situation ever come to his being asked to get on his knees to ask forgiveness of a white person, he should do it without a thought” (Emmett Till) this showed how normal it was becoming for whites to exercise their “right” to lynch African Americans. Till never got justice in this time period, DNA identification was not around. His body was not identified till 2005 through DNA collected from his relatives and dental comparisons to images taken of Emmett Till himself (Emmett Till). As a nation we should not let this young mans life die and not acknowledge it, instead of World War One and Two being repeated over and over again throughout the educational curriculum for all grade levels, lynching, the ugly and unexpected truth of the United States should be taught in order for our nation to be sure it never goes back to these wicked ways again.
A Young William Sanders Scarborough was an African American intellectual who was greatly involved in the education and advancement of African Americans. He was born in 1852 in Macon GA a slave. He attended Atlanta University, and later attended Oberlin College where he received his B.A. and M.A
This photo was taken of the Howard University graduating class of 1914. Howard University is a historical black college established in 1867. The school was governmentally chartered on March 2, 1867. Howard University like many other historical black colleges helped shape the history of America especially African Americans, and was greatly involved in the civil rights movement.
This image portrays of the conditions in which African American children attended school in at the end of the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century in Virginia. Black schools were not well funded because of the oppression of black people. Children often had to attend school in churchyards, but that did not stop the growing number of children going to school over the years. Activists like Booker T. Washington created better institutions for African Americans to attend school starting in 1890.
The Birth of a Nation directed by D.W. Griffith is well known as the film that inspired the revival of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in 1915, the same time this film was released, because it glorified the first Klan as American saviors. In fact, this film also inspired the white hood and cross that our nation has been accustomed to seeing the KKK in. This film had an intensive impact as indicated before, but what is surprising is that it was the first movie ever seen inside the White House while U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was in presidency (1913-1921). Because of this film the second Klan, a “secret organization in the southern U.S., active for several years after the Civil War, which aimed to suppress the newly acquired powers of blacks and to oppose carpetbaggers from the North, and which was responsible for many lawless and violent proceedings” (Wikipedia), was established in 1915, and proved to be a propaganda type of material that increased lynching worldwide to promote the purpose of the KKK which was to ensure white-supremacy in the South.
Both pictures above are of Emmett Louis Till (July 25th 1941- August 28th 1955) He was a fourteen-year-old African American boy who has become one of the most talked about lynching incidences worldwide. While visiting relatives in the small town of Money in Mississippi it has been said, not proven, that Till flirted with a white married woman named Carolyn Bryant in a small convenience store. Shortly after Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, abducted, beat, mutilated, shot (above his right ear), and lynched by a “fan blade which was fastened around his neck with barbed wire” (Wikipedia), which weighed his body down in the Tallahatchie River. Till’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley, decided to have an open casket at the funeral to “focus attention not only on American racism and the barbarism of lynching but also on the limitations and vulnerabilities of American democracy” (Wikipedia).
The Lynching by Claude McKay
His Spirit in smoke ascended to high heaven.
His father, by the cruelest way of pain,
Had bidden him to his bosom once again;
The awful sin remained still unforgiven.
All night a bright and solitary star
(Perchance the one that ever guided him,
Yet gave him up at last to Fate’s wild whim)
Hung pitifully o’er the swinging char.
Day dawned, and soon the mixed crowds came to view
The ghastly body swaying in the sun
The women thronged to look, but never a one
Showed sorrow in her eyes of steely blue;
And little lads, lynchers that were to be,
Danced round the dreadful thing in fiendish glee.
Lynching, which can be defined as hanging someone for an alleged offense without a legal trial, is brought to its full expectations of true horror in Claude McKay’s poem, “The Lynching”. Firstly, the poem describes, very descriptively, a man lynched over a burning flame and “his spirit in smoke ascended to high heaven”. This is very important to point out because this shows lynching was done in vain because he, the man lynched in this poem, obviously did not do something wrong if he got into heaven. Would it be implied he went to heaven if he did? Also, McKay states in the next line “His father, by the cruelest way of pain”. These quotes stated above show true religious values in McKay’s eyes. This was one of the only things African Americans who were lynched had to hold on to, which was reuniting with god: “his father”, their afterlife. In the second part of the poem, McKay shows others reactions to the hanging man: “Day dawned, and soon the mixed crowds came to view the ghastly body swaying in the sun. The specific people McKay focuses on for his poem is women and young boys: “lads”. McKay describes women in great numbers flocking to the man’s body and showing no emotion or empathy for the man hung. He states “the women thronged to look but never a one showed sorrow in her eyes…”. The interpretation of women not showing empathy or emotion for the man hung is very problematic in my eyes because nowadays if women were to see this horrific display they probably would not even want to look and would already show emotion. When explaining a young boy’s perspective of the body McKay states “…Young lads, lynchers that were to be, danced round the dreadful thing in fiendish glee”. McKay’s point in putting these two lines in his poem, in my opinion, was to emphasize that this sad tradition of lynching will be passed through generations. These young boys filled with “fiendish glee” already showed the tradition passing over. The devilishly happy boys looking at the site of the man’s body shows us just how much this generation was becoming accustomed to lynching. It was so natural that children, specifically boys, and women did not even see it as wrong. This poem puts a emphasis on racism and the horrific act known as lynching.
Despite The Crisis’s first attempt of an anti-lynching photograph in the December 1911 issue (Vol. 3- No.2) with its “Jesus Christ in Georgia” photo and short story by Du Bois himself, the photo was of a large wooden cross with a portrayal of Jesus’s face in the center as he gazes to the right where a lynched black man is in a painfully sorrowful look, Du Bois knew by 1912 when the above postcard was put into the magazine because it suggests that white southerners were in competition with the white northerners. The white southerners are above from New York sending this postcard as “a reply to Mr. Holmes from Alabama” as indicated in Amy Wood’s Lynching and Spectacle Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940. As for the side of the postcard it reads “This is the way we do them down here. The last lynching has not been put on card yet. Will put you on our regular mailing list. Expect one a month on the average”. This postcard shows that although photograph was used to denounce lynching it was also used to promote and become a competition-like process that affirmed white supremacy both in the North and South.
#1 page 167, Introduction under the heading Meetings, lines 1-2
The National Federation of Colored Women’s Club was founded in July 1896 in Washington, D.C. “by the merger of the National Federation of Afro-American Women, the Women’s Era Clubs of Boston, and the Colored Women’s League of Washington, D.C.” (nacwc.org). Women and children (youth) in 32 states are its members. All members are “dedicated to raising to the highest plane the home life, moral standards, and civic life of our race” (nacwc.org).
#2 page 167, 6th paragraph under the introduction under the heading Meetings, line 1
The National Negro Business League was founded in 1900 by Booker T. Washington to promote “commercial, agricultural, educational, and industrial advancement… and the commercial and financial development of the Negro” (www.pbs.org). Washington hoped that its members would “leave political and civil rights alone in order to make a businessman of the Negro” (www.pbs.org).
#3 page 187, 1st indented paragraph on the page, line 1
The Niagara Movement is a civil rights organization founded by a group led by William Monroe Trotter and W.E.B Du Bois in 1905. This movement’s purpose was to “call for opposition to racial segregation and disenfranchisement, and it was opposed to policies of accommodation and conciliation promoted to African American leaders such as Booker T. Washington” (Wikipedia).
#4 page 171, 1st paragraph, line 8
The N.A.A.C.P (National Association For The Advancement of Colored People) is an African American civil rights organization founded by Moorfield Storey, Mary White Ovington and W.E.B. Du Bois in 1909. “Its mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”(Wikipedia). It was formed “partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching” (www.naacp.org).
#5 page 165, paragraph 2 from the left bottom side up, line 1
Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute in 1881. “It is a private, historically black university located in Tuskegee, Alabama, United States. The campus is designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site by the National Park Service and is the only one in the U.S. to have this designation. The university was home to scientist George Washington Carver and to World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen” (Wikipedia). The university offers “40 bachelor’s degree programs, 17 master’s degree programs, a 5-year accredited professional degree program in architecture, 4 doctoral degree programs, and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine” (Wikipedia).
#6 page 177, paragraph 1 under the heading Health and Sanitation, lines 3-5
The Journal of the American Medical Association
(JAMA) is a peer-reviewed medical journal that is published annually 48 times by the American Medical Association. “It publishes original research, reviews, and editorials covering all aspects of the biomedical sciences”(Wikipedia). Nathan Smith Davis as the founding editor founded the journal in 1883. “The journal’s current editor-in-chief is Howard Bauchner of Boston University” (Wikipedia).
#7 page 187, 1st indented paragraph on right side, line 5
Jim Crow is defined as the former practice of segregating black people in the United States (Wikipedia). Jim Crow laws were enacted after the reconstruction period and continued until 1965, they “mandated the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks”(Wikipedia). Jim Crow laws “followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans”(Wikipedia).
#8 page 196, 2nd indented paragraph from the bottom left side, lines 1-2
The International Socialist Congress in 1907 gathered “in Stuttgart, Germany from 18 to 24 August 1907 and was attended by nearly 900 delegates from around the globe” (Wikipedia). The work they specialized in dealt with “militarism, colonialism, and women’s suffrage” (Wikipedia).
#9 pages 160-162 The “Education” section of the magazine shines a light on the numerous African American students who persevered through school and earned diplomas, high ranks, and other scholarly achievements. The recognitions vary from secondary school to graduate school. It also shines a light on educators who work hard to improve schools and train their students.
#10 page 169 Hallie Quinn Brown was born on March 10, 1850 in Pittsburg, Pa. She graduated from Wilberforce University in 1873. She was a well-known women’s activists and a writer. She was involved in the creation of National Association of Colored Women (NACW). (http://www.blackpast.org)
#11 pages 182-183 The image is called “Social Life in Colored America” and it was taken in the Loendi Club in Pittsburg, Pa. George Hall founded the Loendi Club on August 13, 1897. The club was an exclusively for the African American elite. “The Loendi offered lectures, music, and sponsored athletic teams beside providing a refuge from the teeming masses and a quiet meeting place for the area’s black movers and shakers to do business” (www. oldmonmusic.blogspot.com).
#12 the quote “I will study and make ready, and maybe my chance will come” was by Abraham Lincoln the sixteenth president of the United States of America. It is one of many of his inspiring quotes.
#13 Page 192 Wilberforce University was founded in 1856 in Wilberforce, Ohio. “Wilberforce University, the nation’s oldest private, historically black university, was named to honor the great 18th century abolitionist, William Wilberforce.” (www.wiberforce.edu) The School faced problems in 1862, but it was quickly saved and was back to running the following year and has been running since.
#14 Page 198 a total number of 2,668 African American men and women are reported lynched without a trial, and twenty lynched in 1914. This is The Crisis’s attempt to inform its readers of the dangers and unfairness they have to withstand on the daily basis. No further examination is made about the lynching, and that is because the numbers speak for themselves.
#15 Page 198 “The Souls of White Folk” is an unidentifiable letter of a white person to W.E.B Du Bois. The person explains their grief and disappointment of the division between blacks and whites, and attempts to reassure Du Bois that he and many others are not like the discriminative white people of the country.
Apel, Dora, and Shawn Michelle Smith. Lynching Photographs. Berkeley: U of California, 2007. Print.
Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.
Blue, Christopher T. “Barber, J. Max (1878-1949) | The Black Past: Remembered and
Dennis, Michael. Luther P. Jackson And A Life For Civil Rights. n.p.: Gainesville, Fla. : University Press of Florida, c2004., 2004. Rider University Libraries Catalog. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.Reclaimed.” Barber, J. Max (1878-1949) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
“Emmett Till.” – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
Howard-Baptiste, Shewanee1, Shewanee-Howard@utc.edu, and Jessica C.2 Harris. “Teaching Then And Now: Black Female Scholars And The Mission To Move Beyond Borders.” Negro Educational Review 65.1-4 (2014): 5-22.OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
King, Wilma. African American Childhoods : Historical Perspectives From Slavery To Civil Rights. n.p.: New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005., 2005. Rider University Libraries Catalog.Simkin, John. “Charles Edward Russell.” Spartacus Educational. N.p., Aug. 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.
Moriah, Kristin. “Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890- 1940/Living With Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, And Citizenship, 1890-1930.” TDR: The Drama Review 57.1 (2013): 182-184. Literary Reference Center. Web. 11 December. 2015.
Ronnick, Michele Valerie, and Henry Louis, Jr. Gates. “The Autobiography Of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey From Slavery To Scholarship.” (2005): MLA International Bibliography. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.
Roth, Jeffery, and J. B. Watson. East Texas Historical Journal 51.1 (2013): 9-23. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 20 Oct. 2015.
Simkin, John. ” Oswald Garrison Villard. ” Spartacus Educational. N.p., Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
Wood, Amy Louise. Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890- 1940. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 2009. Print.