Beginning with the emancipation of the Negro, the inevitable result of unbribled power exercised for two and a half centuries, by the white man over the Negro, began to show itself in acts of conscienceless outlawry. During the slave regime, the Southern white man owned the Negro body and soul. It was to his interest to dwarf the soul and preserve the body. Vested with unlimited power over his slave, to subject him to any and all kinds of physical punishment, the white man was still restrained from such punishment as tended to injure the slave by abating his physical powers and thereby reducing his financial worth. While slaves were scourged mercilessly, and in countless cases inhumanly treated in other respects, still the white owner rarely permitted his anger to go so far as to take a life, which would entail upon him a loss of several hundred dollars. The slave was rarely killed, he was too valuable; it was easier and quite as effective, for discipline or revenge, to sell him "Down South."
But Emancipation came and the vested interests of the white man in the Negro's body were lost. The white man had no right to scourge the emancipated Negro, still less has he a right to kill him. But the Southern white people had been educated so long in that school of practice, in which might makes right, that they disdained to draw strict lines of action in dealing with the Negro. In slave times the Negro was kept subservient and submissive by the frequency and severity of the scourging, but, with freedom, a new system of intimidation came into vogue; the Negro was not only whipped and scourged; he was killed....
"No student of black history should overlook Crusade for Justice."—William M. Tuttle, Jr., Journal of American History
"Besides being the story of an incredibly courageous and outspoken black woman in the face of innumerable odds, the book is a valuable contribution to the social history of the United States and to the literature of the women's movement as well."—Elizabeth Kolmer, American Quarterly
"[Wells was] a sophisticated fighter whose prose was as though as her intellect."—Walter Goodman, New York Times
"An illuminating narrative of a zealous, race-conscious, civic- and church-minded black woman reformer, whose life story is a significant chapter in the history of Negro-White relations."—Thelma D. Perry, Negro History Bulletin
In the postbellum American South, lynching was a frightfully common occurrence, perpetrated so frequently that most Southern politicians and leaders turned a blind eye to the practice. This vicious form of vigilante “justice” was in truth a thinly veiled racist justification for murderous violence. In 1892 alone, more than two hundred African Americans were lynched, with alleged offenses ranging from “attempted stock poisoning” to “insulting whites.”
The Red Record tabulates these scenes of brutality in clear, objective statistics, allowing the horrifying facts to speak for themselves. Alongside the tally, author Ida B. Wells describes actual occurrences of lynching, and enumerates the standard rationalizations for these extrajudicial killings, her original intent for the pamphlet to shame and shock the apathetic public—and spark change.
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Seventy-one years before Rosa Parks’s courageous act of resistance, police dragged a young black journalist named Ida B. Wells off a train for refusing to give up her seat. The experience shaped Wells’s career, and—when hate crimes touched her life personally—she mounted what was to become her life’s work: an anti-lynching crusade that captured international attention.
This volume covers the entire scope of Wells’s remarkable career, collecting her early writings, articles exposing the horrors of lynching, essays from her travels abroad, and her later journalism. The Light of Truth is both an invaluable resource for study and a testament to Wells’s long career as a civil rights activist.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Since that time I have been engaged on a work not yet finished, which I interrupt now to tell the story of the mob in New Orleans, which, despising all law, roamed the streets day and night, searching for colored men and women, whom they beat, shot and killed at will.
In the account of the New Orleans mob I have used freely the graphic reports of the New Orleans Times-Democrat and the New Orleans Picayune. Both papers gave the most minute details of the week's disorder. In their editorial comment they were at all times most urgent in their defense of law and in the strongest terms they condemned the infamous work of the mob.
It is no doubt owing to the determined stand for law and order taken by these great dailies and the courageous action taken by the best citizens of New Orleans, who rallied to the support of the civic authorities, that prevented a massacre of colored people awful to contemplate.
The publisher hereof does not attempt to moralize over the deplorable condition of affairs shown in this publication, but simply presents the facts in a plain, unvarnished, connected way, so that he who runs may read. We do not believe that the American people who have encouraged such scenes by their indifference will read unmoved these accounts of brutality, injustice and oppression. We do not believe that the moral conscience of the nation—that which is highest and best among us—will always remain silent in face of such outrages, for God is not dead, and His Spirit is not entirely driven from men's hearts.
This compilation features Southern Horrors, Wells's first pamphlet on the subject of lynching, as well as its successors, A Red Record and Mob Rule in New Orleans. Substantiated by her meticulous research and documentation, these works remain as important to today's historians as they were to the author's original audience.
On the other hand it speaks to an entire cultural environment wherein the African American was denied any of the protections secured for all Americans in the Constitution. The fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution consist of a Citizenship clause, Privileges or Immunities Clause, a Due Process Clause, and an Equal Protection Clause.
The basis of these clauses are simply structured in a manner to protect an individual’s Constitutional rights to what they stipulate, the first section of which states as follows:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
In the pages that follow Ida Wells will provide you with detailed accounts of the clear constitutional violations that African Americans suffer then and come away with more of an understanding of the mind-set that brings these types of horrors into the 21st Century.
Not all nor nearly all of the murders done by white men, during the past thirty years in the South, have come to light, but the statistics as gathered and preserved by white men, and which have not been questioned, show that during these years more than ten thousand African Americans have been killed in cold blood, without the formality of judicial trial and legal process.
If we don’t understand our history, we are doomed to repeat it and this is what we are experiencing today in the United States. Police Brutality is rampant and effects all of us, black, white, red, and brown and because of that we should all be familiar with this history. It is with that hope that we have taken it upon ourselves to make the spirit of Ida B. Wells and the great Frederick Douglass available to a new generation.
We claim to be a highly-civilized and Christian country. I will not stop to deny this claim, still I fearlessly affirm that there is nothing in the history of savages to surpass the blood-chilling horrors and fiendish excesses perpetrated against the African American people of this country, by the so-called enlightened and Christian people of the south. It is commonly thought that only the lowest and most disgusting birds and beasts, such as buzzards, vultures and hyenas, will gloat over and prey upon dead bodies; but the Southern mob, in its rage, feeds its vengeance by shooting, stabbing and burning their victims, when they are already dead.
When the moral sense of a nation begins to decline, and the wheels of progress to roll backward, there is no telling how low the one will fall or where the other will stop. The downward tendency, already manifest, has swept away some of the most important safeguards of justice and liberty.
After you have read the contents of the materials here presented you will have no doubt what this constitutional amendment means in every day usage and how it should protect all American citizens. And, I believe, you will see how the brutal murder, castrations, and hangings of African American men, women, and children parallels with the open and blatant murder of African Americans by police officers in our streets today all over the nation. Why are African Americans concerned?
As of August 2015, more than 385 people have been shot and killed by police officers in our streets. And, according to Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, “These shooting are grossly underreported.” Of these numbers 16% were unarmed or carrying a toy.