February is African American History Month which is a great time to learn something you did not know!
First, I want to let everyone know Monday on Lifetime 9pm EST a movie "For One Night" is on. It is based on a true story. I had my students reading an article on this a few years ago. I just can't believe they really still have segregated proms still today?! Amazing!
Second, last night I went to an incredible lecture. It was by James H. Madison of Indiana University. He is the author of "A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America" The book is set in Marion, IN. One August 6, 1930 Mary Bell claimed she & her boyfriend were parked at a "lover's lane" and 3 black men came & raped her & shot her boyfriend. The police identified the men a few days later & they were placed in prison awaiting trial. A mob began to form outside the jail & soon they grew to over 1,000. The crowd broke down the couthouse door and then the jail cell doors and dragged the 3 men outside beating them along the way. 2 of them men were lynched and the 3rd escaped. Mr. Madison made the point of explaining how it is NOT a hanging as this would be down after one is proven guilty. Lynching is when people take it upon themselves to be the law.
Mr. Madison showed many fascinating photos. The cover of the book enlarged clearly shows the crowd. People smiling, pregnant women etc. Click the photo above to enlarge & you'll be able to see. Mr. Madison also showed how a monument in the town for the World War Veterans included (Col) by two names. This was not for Colonel but for COLORED! I would not have guessed that!
Mr. Madison stated the KKK was actually formed in 1922 & was really dead by 1926 and later formed again in 1960 but was a much different organization then. He stated that they were Protestants who actually hated Catholics & Jewish people more than Blacks, though many are not aware of this or even believe it sometimes.
The bodies were left hanging until dawn as "an example". Some have said, black and white, that the 3rd man was left to go because an angel told them too. A woman by thename of Flossie Bailey started to get people to join the NAACP & tried to keep the case alive but she failed. Noone was ever convicted of lynching the men.
Interestingly, one of the black men who grew up there during this time & who swore he would never return to this town is now the Sheriff of the County after a career in CA & in the FBI. Many questions were asked including how things have changed or stayed the same. I had to chirp in of course. I mentioned how after Sept 11th my father was driving & turned the corner & the road was blocked off by police. They asked his nature of heading down the road etc. Apparently there was a Mosque down the road & a crowd had formed. I mentioned it would be interesting to look at this crowd of ALL colors and ask how much have things changed!
It was a fascinating lecture & I'll probably read the book.