Spectacle Lynching

Published: 2021-09-13 19:50:09
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Category: History Other

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In her essay "Deadly Amusements" Grace Elizabeth Hale writes about cruelty of white Southerners in the form of lynching of ex-slaves. Lynching became a form of entertainment, gathering the whole family together for the carnival. It was advertised in papers and attended by thousands. White people kept it this way not only to amuse themselves, such publicity and cruelty was a form of violent vigilante justice and the way of achieving control over African American Southerners and restricting their political activity.
The 1893 lynching of Henry Smith in Paris, Texas was the founding event in the history of spectacle lynching. It was the first blatantly public, actively promoted lynching of a southern black, beginning of the "transformation of the practice from quiet vigilante justice to modern public spectacle" [209]. The killing of Smith made the practice of lynching more powerful and organized. Public lynching became a murder which gathered large crowds from many different towns. The mob drove cars, spectators used cameras, out-of town visitors arrived on specially chartered excursion trains, and the towns and counties in which these horrifying events happened had newspapers, telegraph offices, and even radio stations that announced times and locations of these upcoming violent spectacles [201]. After Henry Smith's murder the pamphlet was issued which contained the detailed description of the process: from the discovery of alleged crime to the frenzied souvenir gathering at the end. It also included photographs of Smith's torture. The purpose of all this publicity was to spread the message of white supremacy supported by violence and murder.

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