tv Lectures in History CSPAN November 21, 2015 8:00pm-9:43pm EST
to dallas texas. then, we're live for the radio program "back story" with the american history guys. oneth and to peter airs to discuss "the birth of a nation" and its significance. tv, all history weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. this week on lectures in history, anemory university hank klibanoff and gadseden talk about the intersection of politics and violence in the mid-20th century georgia. this program is 90 minutes. host: today, i am going to open up the georgia civil rights cold
cases class. we are going to take note of a particular milestone that occurs this week. does anybody know who this is? this is emmett till. 19--is day, august 20 6, 955, none of you , but ir what happened will take a measure of how long ago it was in a minute. he was a 14 euro boy from chicago. he spent the summer with his uncle in mississippi. he had a son who was his age. ight's son was
simion wright. they were done in mississippi, having a good summertime, two days before this day. till had gone into a country store called brian's meats and grocery. he goes into the store to purchase something. at the cast register. --cash register. he sees the grocery store owner with her husband. something happened at that point. there's only one person who knows what happened. that is carolyn bryant. ok?
hepurchases something, and either whistles at her in a sassy way, a wolf whistle, that construction workers and others are known to do with women walk , or, as he is leaving, he says something like, "bye, baby," or, as his mother says, he started to say something and stuttered and blue air out-- b lew air out, stuttering like a whistle. whatever he did, he crossed the line in the eyes of carolyn bryant. a couple of days later, lloyd bryant, and his brother-in-law, showed up late at night at the door of moses wright's house. they demand to see the boy that was in the store.
all these boys are sharing a big bed. asleep, goeshalf to the door. grabs him, and they take into a truck. you can hear them say, is this the boy that did that? a woman says, yes, that is him. bryant take him away, not to be seen for several days. that was on the 28th. .wo days from now, 60 years ago him to milam's-- barn where they beat him, tortured him, and shot him. ahatchiek into the tall
strapped barbey wire and a cotton gin fan to his neck. ares missing and people looking for him, even before the body surfaces. the spotlight turns to bryant and milam, who say, well, yeah, we did that. we showed up, took him, roughed him up, and whatever else happened, we had no hand in. somebody else must have done it. he surfaces. show you is a gruesome picture. at the time, it was only shown in the black press. it later made its way out to the larger press. the body was bloated beyond recognition. one i've always dangling from its socket. his tongue was extended from its
mouth, swollen to eight times its normal size. there was a bullet hole behind his left ear. he was recognizable only by the ring his mother gave him. onto his finger. ,t was his father's, louis till and it had "l.t." on it. this is a civil rights cold case , unsolved, unpunished. as with many cases, there are small elements of the prosecution of it. the chicagothis is defender, the black newspaper. it was not just a black press that was interested. he became a national story.
you can see a column here, to go on trial, for murder, to the top left of the cartoon. the chicago daily news. "till case goes to jury for verdict." this is what happened as it went to trial. three weeks after the body is found, it goes to trial. it seems like forever now between an arrest someone goes to trial. yant are tried. it is in a courthouse in sumner, mississippi. if you come back with this kind of detail in a piece, we will of you. --love you. desperate the slogan of the town was? the slogan of the town was? "a great place to raise a boy."
great detail. amiss-toers are not notice something like--- you as writers are not amiss to notice something like that. acquitted.ryant were jurors were out only 67 minutes. they said they would not be out that long accepted a-- except that they stopped for a drink. the prosecution did a very effective job according to the public. i won't go into that. milam and bryant were not even convicted of adopting him, him, which they admitted to. it was a few months later in which they sat with a journalist
from alabama and told the story. in effect, they confessed to the murder. it was a piece that ran in "look" magazine. you can read the piece and know they never spoke to the reporter. he doubted not to reveal that they admitted it. he would have to write a story in a bizarre, contorted way that would tell the story without technology. --acknowledging. he agreed that they could go out in the world and deny it. couldn't taketer it and made sure everyone knew they confessed. we have copies of the documents were he paid the money for the interviews. it was an early example of checkbook journalism, you will need to take journalism school to go into that. emmett till was not a civil
rights activist. he was 14 years old. he was seven years from being able to vote. that was not the case. he was killed for violating what scholars referred to primly as "racial etiquette." he crossed the line, the social codes, with whatever he did or was believed to have done. this is a case from a different part of mississippi. they were trying to get people to vote and did it anyway even
though they were warned not to. this is the case of george w lee and lamar smith. it was the 1948 murder of isaiah alston.d the town of it is about three hours from here. voting.hot dead for he voted in 1948. i will talk about this extreme very. -- morebetween 1946 and theably, 1944 and 1948, highlights of which were two statewide races for governor in 1946 and 1948. 3 black men were killed for
voting in that time. i will open the floor. why would white people go to such lengths to stop black people from voting? troubleyou think was so -- would so trouble white people that anytime they would murder someone for voting? yes sir? at that point, politics was a .ay to voice one's opinions there was a power structure in .he south politics, all, the mayors were white men. if there were black men voting, they could change that.
people would have to give up their power, because they would go after white man killing people. --men killing people. prof. klibanoff: absolutely. >> if you have the right to vote, politicians have to cater to your needs because they are a part of getting you elected. prof. klibanoff: you mean that white people would never want to cater to a black man? >> yes. it was a legal equalizer. it was one of the only things that could equalize what was going on in society. prof. klibanoff: it is worth knowing. the details are what makes it extort mary--it extort mary.
extraordinary. it was a little more liberal atmosphere in the 40's leading up to the brown thv. board decision that hardened people. in the 1940's, liberals never believed segregation would end. i can name for liberal editors, prominent people who later worked in the roosevelt administration. jonathan daniels was an editor whoaleigh north carolina said it segregation will absolutely never and in the south. you might as well believe they will become night-- day will bec ome night. world, armies of the axes and allies combined, said mark edwards of the roosevelt
administration, will never end segregation. it was absolute. when we say why people did not vote, itk people to was just one of the absolutes. let's get to the technical detail. you may say they didn't want them to vote because they might collect a black person-- elect a black person. do you think a group of blacks in these counties could ever elect a black person in the 40's? no? why not? >> they didn't have the structure there to get someone , to win political office. it would be hugely expensive, a campaigning endeavor.
they were in such a situation theirthe main concern of day-to-day life is getting food on the table rather than putting somebody into a system that has never been beneficial for them. prof. klibanoff: that's all true. but, i would remind you that white people down there were very poor too. white people were struggling day-to-day. here is what i want you to keep in mind. in georgia, alabama, mississippi, a population was heavily african-american. in some counties, it would be 70% african-american. be 60the voting age would %. counties, maybe seven
people would be registered to vote. it was the structure that barred them from voting at all, because whites feared they would be the minority. whites were the minority. if the majority rules, they lose power. name one other important reason why the vote matters. what happens when you register to vote? year after year, what happens? how many arof you are registered? once in acall while for what, jury duty. with jury duty, what does that mean? you have an influence on the criminal justice system. right? consequencerlooked
that white people understood. so many of these cases are about criminal justice. normally i would not start off , but i wantedll .o do it for the anniversary how old is your grandfather? >> 88. prof. klibanoff: someone else? >> 92. prof. klibanoff: anybody else? >> 70. prof. klibanoff: how old would
emmett till be? he would be 74 years old. 60 years ago is not that long ago. i can name one person in this room who iwas alive at the time. [laughter] prof. klibanoff: i want you to know we are closer in time than you might think. because it was in chicago, is that why it was published more? prof. klibanoff: yes, and the fact that he was 14. it crossed the line that did make sense outside the south for the most part. it drew massive press coverage. this town of sumner, mississippi was overrun by the reporters. the new york times was covering it every day. ap, upi.
the only newspapers that didn't cover it were the mississippi papers. ok. now, just to go further here, as wego forward in these cases, will examine not the whodunnit as much as the why. in most cases, we know who. what states of mind were in place, social, political, economic? together.s would come all religious precepts, all acceptable behaviors that would lead them to such means of widespread murder as control. ok. this is the website that i've
asked you to look at. it is the civil rights cold cases project. journalismas a joint and african-american studies class. we had students do senior honor related to this. this is examining the history of the time. not just the murderous ac tivists, these are racially motivated murders. you will use primary evidence at the eye level. we will get this to you. we want you to dig out naacp records.
we discovered a mother load of stuff over at the research library. rare book libraries. this is a real gold mine of opportunities. we want you to understand history that is little known from the inside looking out. it is long forgotten from the outside looking in. that is our goal, for you to see it from a new, fresh perspective. this is a bunch of different cases. becauseho were targeted of who they were. it wasn't even their beliefs, always. in most cases, these opted no local investigations. , they received inconsistent investigation by the fbi.
things are not always what they seem or what you would expect. was 35es brazier, he in 1958. he worked three jobs. his wife worked too. he had three children. he loved, with a great passion, new cars. new956, he bought himself a 1956 chevrolet from his dealership where he worked. in 1958, he bought a chevrolet impala. ok? we have examined, in this class, why it was that was so offensive a, whites in boston, georgi
terrell. a few days before 1958, it did matter-- didn't matter. taken to the jail where he was examined by doctors. in the middle of the night, he was dragged out and beaten, all but dead. then, he dies. he had been stopped by police officer, and they said, why are you stopping me again, why do you keep doing this? the police officer says you have a lot of nerve driving a car like that when we can't hardly live. i will get you yet. .e know all of this
james frazier, no news coverage, not a word. nothing in the press. another countryman was found-- willie countryman was found with a knife in him, planted. they killed him in the middle of the night, no coverage. he spent five years trying to get his case to a federal jury. the consequence was that the jury, and the civil case never held the police officers f ponsible for james
frazier's death. we found this transcript at the national archives. , 1956.utler here is the detail that is interesting. things, youdy these want to glom onto these interesting moments. the doctor hospital, examines him, and he says, will my gosh, he is going to need a blood transfusion. the family tells us this. the family says, give me a
.ransfusion the doctors were white. they said, we cannot, we don't have any black blood. you've heard me talk about the dythology that people operate on african americans at the time. they adopted a lot of myths that were hard to break, even if they .anted to this really upset a student at morehouse college, who was provoked to write a letter to the atlantic constitution. do you see it? see who wrote this letter? on the far right, in the middle? king. martin luther king.
this happened within a couple of weeks of another murder. i will click on through. this is a story about clarence pickett. months at theix statement hospital. he returns to columbus. he would wonder around, drink a little bit, maybe a little too much. he gets arrested on one particular day. 1957, around christmas. he is yelling and screaming, calling the police officer's names. the officers say, hey, that is pickett.
when officer decided not to take it. he goes in the jail cell and kicks him and beaten and it him toim-- stomps near-death. he has to be taken to a columbus medical center where a white physician sees him. the doctor says, i think he is putting this on. ok? the next day, he was dead. what students were able to do was look at the medical report from one day and look at the autopsy next day. they said, will gosh, based on what thesy, here is
doctor should have seen and done. he should never have released him to go home. the doctor, who said he was putting on when he released him, gave him 75 milligrams of a painkiller. clearly, there is some problem here. he tells the police officer he is putting on. he just wants to be a part of the boys and the team. he gives him a painkiller on the way out. clarence pickett died the next day. you need to be aware not to jump to some assumptions about things. students were determined to
betray the police officer as this southern, racist cracker. white cop, stereotypical, straight out of central casting. another student was looking into .t to and discover something from?is he new york. we traced him enough to know that he came south from when he was in the military to be at fort benning. so, this was a way to challenge some assumptions going into .hese things
lemuel p was an administrator in the washington, d.c. school system. he come south in 1964 for training. it is the summer freedom in mississippi. they finish up with their military service at fort benning. they're driving home from washington to be with their families. they get near athens and cross paths with a group of three klansmen looking for trouble. penn takes the wheel. carclan car pulls up-- klan
pulls up, pulls out a shotgun, and blows them away. there are two gruesome pictures i have to show you. it was just breathtaking. how brutal this murder was. i will show you in detail we learned. --a detail of what we learned. there was a trial. the three klansmen were caught. they were indicted and tried. ok? in state court. not federal, state. we will go later into these
distinctions. during the trial, two of the witnesses against the klansmen were the other two men in the car. ok? with penn. two african american men, who walked into the courtroom to .estify one was a major with the stripes to show it. the other was a corporal who also had stripes. suddenly, the press took note of the fact that when they came into the courtroom, the white , just, all men, all white as suddenly had these expressions of disdain for these black men who had higher ranking than they did in the military. you know, they were privates, many of them.
it ended up, maybe it was going to be influential, maybe it wasn't, but we understood the psyche at the time was that no black man should be in a military uniform in this country. this was in 1964, 16 years after truman's order. desegregating the military. the lawyer for the defendant, the klansmen, was that the white tree would be letting down the race were they to convict these men. he very much appealed to their anglo-saxon tradition. they would have to answer to their neighbors. of course, they did find the men not guilty. more.ple o ins man was 17 years old 1962, when he walked home from the dance. girlfriend hadis
gone to a dance. they were walking past the school. they don't know that some hour earlier, a white woman has called the police and said, "i just saw a black man in my carport reach into my glo ve compartment, and now my gun is missing." the please go and pick her up-- andpolice go, pick her up, go looking for these people. all and the woman says, "that's him." the only thing she knew was that he was wearing a white shirt, the guy she'd seen was in a white shirt. he was first to run. does this sound so much anything you've heard recently? a.c. hall runs and the police shoot him.
when they reach him, he is all but dead. he tries to right himself. he lifts his hands to surrender and falls dead. they look for a gun. 2 days later, they find the gun in a corner's jury, it's called. they have a gun. somebody in the jury calls in the man and the wife. they say "is this your gun?" they say, no, this is not your gun. jury,oroner's they do a complete statement that says we believe this was murder.
meetingof white people and examining the evidence concluded was murder. it is picked up by a grand jury. the grand jury would not bring charges against the officers. have a lot of, we unrestrained agents of white supremacy acting to enforce, what they believe, to be the social order of things. injury and death to untold numbers of african americans in georgia and the south. duringgoing to ask you, this time, as i have said, to ask the question of the y. -- the why. why would police officers be so offended that a black man had a nicer car than them that they
would kill them? why would a white physician examining black patients ignore the signs of great injury, withhold treatment, and send a patient home to die? the purpose of this course is clear: we wan you to learn how dig outet, how to records, how to analyze the documentation of these crimes, find the truth, find the context. beyond the primary evidence we will give you, and that you will dig out, we have a lot of secondary reading. ok? there are others who have examined the issues more broadly. when a student was looking at why a man would be killed for driving a nice car. so the scholars have done, you know, the work that is the glue
that helps expand our understanding. to extent, these were not isolated one-off incidents. that is the work we will be engaged in. n will nowgadsde examine the broader context of the cases, and then we will we meet to discuss georgia. if you have questions, let me just ask that about what i just talked about. you must've had questions, thoughts in your mind at the time. yes? i believe you mentioned one of the officers, one of the people that killed someone was from new york instead of the south. i don't think that would change much, because they did consider , i mean, the north , the mentality
would not change depending on where he was from. prof. klibanoff: right. i think that's right. there's a question of what people knew at the time. that's part of the challenge, not to apply what we know in 1964to what they knew in or 1948. you have a number of northerners who came south. they came south and decided to fit in. they would have to adopt southern ideologies on these things. yes? so he was in the military, right? that's another structure of group thinking and sitting in
ideology and brainwashing. beck influences his thoughtsand actions-- --that influences his thoughts and actions. prof. klibanoff: correct. any other questions? abouthow do we think racial violence in american history? how violent is the united states? who are the victims, who are the perpetuators? how does the justice system resolve this violence? these are some of things i'd like us to consider. i think a good place to start, when we think about the problem of violence in american in, "anl development is american dilemma."
he had been commissioned to --ite magisterialthis document of american race relations, called, "an american dilemma." it is one of the finest copperheads of studies of american relationships ever published. he worked with a bevy of academics to discuss a variety aspects of the south, including the biological and social foundations of race. he published population statistics and trends. explored the institution of slavery and the evolution of the southern planter economy. he looked at the economic conditions and social stratification of african-american communities.
he explored white, southern politics. he looked at the problem of violence in the south. the problem of segregation, equality, and looked at a variety of different institutions in african american communities. uplifting institutions. has created a study that we return to again and again. in a very provocative way, myrdal offered a particular interpretation of black southern culture. he developed an argument that he called, "the american creed." in his telling, and this is a basic "there's a
homogeneity in this nation's evaluations. origins, of all creeds, classes, colors, have something in common, a social ethos, political creed." he continued, "it is difficult to avoid the judgment that this american creed is the cement in the structure of this great and disparate nation." the ideals contained included notions familiar with us if you have read our founding documents. ofognition of the dignity the individual human being. the fundamental equality of all men. inalienable rights to freedom and justice. these sentiments and the declaration of independence, and the u.s. constitution, in state constitutions.
he recognizes the recurrence of these themes in all these documents. was doing a study of american race relations, he did concede that there was a kind of tension between this creed and to the everyday experiences of americans. , and thismaintained is another quote, that the ideals of the american creed are the highest law in the land. they were expressed repeatedly by national leaders, thinkers, jurists, statesman, and it was myrdal's opinion that it had triumphed as a guiding ideology of american political culture at the time. now, it in his assessment,-- assessment, he constructed racism as a contradiction to the creed. it was a kind of problem to
which other people succumbed. it was a problem that demanded moral redress of education. he was of the opinion that if americans understood the complexity of the problem, of these kinds of insults to the american creed, that they would discover quickly a remedy for these problems of segregation and equality and violence. anmany ways, he is telling exploration of american political culture, providing the essential subtext for american history today. u.s.u pick up the average history textbook from your high school or even university, you will see a kind of argument in that in the text about american history as an inexorable struggle towards greater levels of freedom and equality.
right? see kind of echoes of the argument, right, in arguments about american exceptionalism. that somehow america is different from the rest of the world, and we are better. that americans are kind of innately inherently freedom loving democratic and gallatin egalitarian is think we. egalitarians. need to recognize the power of the sentiment. his critics offered another take on the american creed, the subscribed americans or had an abiding commitment to these notions of freedom and equality and democracy. that myrdal
demonstrated great skill in celebrity democracy as he detailed the breadth and scope of america's brand of racial apartheid. underestimatedhe the differences between all classes of whites upper-class and working-class whites. they treated racism and racist acts as vestiges of the bygone era, marked by pre-rational, pre-democratic, prescientific movements. he render these problems of ofregation as something kind removed from the essence of american sentiment, something kind of not fitting with the american creed.
african-american sociologist over carton in particular chided carton iner particular chided him for treating it as something specific to american culture and contended instead that the problem with race and racism was part of the american political and economic structure. withebates that myrdal had critics are interesting and frame a lot of discussions about american history. it creates an interesting interpretive tension, when we u.s. political and economic culture as inherently democratic or something else. it does a lot to shape our perspectives, right, of
different events. but, i think the tension between isdal and his critics interesting for the purposes of the class. you think about the specific problem of violence, and the extent to which it is something central and intrinsic to u.s. history. is something that is out there, on thethat people margins of society engage in, something that is kind of bound up and woven throughout, you know, a variety of different american traditions and practices, right? it is embedded in the actions of different institutions. it is a really interesting way, really interesting problem for us to ponder over. so, i think when we think about
racial violence in history, it is important to think about it as a kind of long arc, and think about it in its various iterations. in many ways, we can look to the institution of slavery and see the kind of practice of violence essential to the institutionalization of slavery in the american south. slaveowners went to great themselvesconvince and others that the institution of slavery was a kind of benevolent arrangement between masters and slaves. right? they were the ones that provide, the masters provided a kind of shelter and food and civilization and religion for their slaves in exchange for labor and obedience and love. right? but, we understand a cursory review of american slavery revealing that the violence was
an essential component of the master-slave relationship. right? that masters frequently resorted to corporal punishment, to discipline the slaves and to maintain the essential imbalance between a masters and slaves. masters frequently whipped slaves. i'm sure we've seen yet on a photograph of the gentleman with the crosshatched scars on his back, where he had been whipped repeatedly. beatenwere whipped and for disobedience, when they failed to meet their quotas, they were subject to corporal punishment when they attempted broke away, or when they a myriad of rules that governed plantation life. it wasn't always clear that there was a logic to the violence, that sometimes it was
unexpected and unanticipated. constant folder ability to the masters-- vulnerability to the masters. slade women were subject to rape--slave women were subject to rate and other forms of exportation-- rape and other forms of exploitation. what is striking about the south is the fact that all of the violence short of murder, or serious maiming of the slave, was considered legal, the state regarded this as a purview of masters, as long as they did not kill their property, that was fine. even in cases where masters were , were determined to have
killed at their slaves or mean to them, they were rarely charged with murder or rarely charged and prosecuted for their actions. i think violence, it is interesting to think about it as a defining feature of the post slave south, and we see a continuation of that world which originated in the slave south. new constitutional amendments that establish rights for ,itizens, african-americans they gained a degree of freedom and independence unimaginable in the slave south. that's not to be underestimated. we have to think about the different gradations of freedom. i think the fact that emancipation mattered, that it did not result necessarily in equality of races, but was a profound change form the previous regime,
created a variety of crossover for different reasons. you see the rise of institutions kluxthe cute cluckku klan. it had been seriously undermined with emancipation. the ku klux klan were punishing slaves for their moral behavior and resulted to violence and intimidation to prevent competition from the newly freed people. right? night rides,ke take people from their homes, and many victims were killed y shootingstyle bu and hanging. they were raped and whipped and
otherwise humiliated. we can see the violence, right, patternsinuation of and traditions of racial domination that were endemic to racial culture. i think it is also important to isnk about violence and interesting tension between other pools of domination. it is a question we discussed hiteerday, that w southerners didn't necessarily turn to violence when all other methods of domination failed. right? violence was a kind of tool in a large toolbox, right? means toed them the exert their power that they lost in the war, right? play oute that kind of , played and replayed in different variations throughout
the late 19th and 20th century. lynching is arguably the most conspicuous form of racial violence in the late 19th and early 20th century. what you know about lynching?-- what do you know about lynching? it is difficult to avoid if you look at u.s. history. nobody knows anything about lynching? yes? >> it was almost kind of a show. people would come and bring their families to watch a lynching. during different periods. hand could get out of really quickly. sometimes it would just turn into mob violence or anger not directed toward the individual but to whoever was on the street who could get caught up in this , in townss general there would be an anger of like, what are we doing, we are losing power, things are out of
control. prof. gadsden: yes. >> it was somewhat like a religious spectacle. , a churchgoer would see a sacrifice. it was something they believed in. there were showing an offering to the people. prof. gadsden: yes. it has elements of all of that. for our purposes, is important to define lynching. it is killing perpetuated by a group of persons working outside the law to avenge a crime, real or imagined. to impose a social order. the origin of the term "lynch" comes from the revolution. colonel charles lynch of the virginia instituted an extra-legal court that used flogging. this practice of lynching
evolved over the 19th century. initially, we are most associated with the west, with the frontier. into civil war and reconstruction, we see practice of lynching becoming increasingly a southern phenomenon and increasingly an exercise perpetuated against african-americans by whites. of it involves various kinds meetings of different forms of beatings, of different forms of torture. that what is essential to understand is the extent to which this was public ritual. it was often times carried out s. town square
it was advertised, right? lynchings were performed with the knowledge and understanding and permission of authorities, even with the police not actively participating, they stood by, they allowed victims to be removed from jail, to be taken further from the mob. this institution of lynching really you thoughts kind of hand-in-hand -- really even kind ofnd -- evolved hand-in-hand with the disenfranchisement of african americans after the war. it was another tool in the toolbox that whites used to disenfranchise african-americans. and 1950, we don't have exact figures of how many people were lynched, but it is estimated that roughly 6000 americans died at the hands of lynch mobs. mississippi, georgia, and texas led the way.
lynched,who were roughly 1/3 were suspected of rate, or attempted rape. most popularext category was murder or attempted murder. but african-americans were lynched for a variety of other transgressions not including ,ssault, burglary, petty theft or theft. withhere was a problem lynching, perceived or imagined, but i think the study of the work reveals something interesting about the practice of lynching. it was not just african-americans suffering lynching for perceived wrongs, but they also suffered lynchings when they succeeded. when they demonstrated economic success, when they demonstrated political independence, right?
consternationused and antagonism of local lights who descended upon them and took their lives. is a terribly important incident of lynching that down thein 1889, right street of i-85 and you can, georgia, where a man, a black farmer, was accused of murdering his white employer and raping his wife. i think the important problem here is accused of -- none of these victims were ever accused or found guilty of a crime, but even if they were found guilty, n extralegal outlook to this, or the state abdicated its responsibility towards disciplining and holding to account actual criminals.
aboute significant thing this lynching was the public spectacle of it all. thousands of people turned out to witnesses lynching. excursion trains were organized to bring people from atlanta out to nuven georgia. he was tortured and mutilated before he was eventually burned to death, and his body parts were then distributed and sold afterwards. local photographers snapped and distributed pictures of the violence, and with many lynchings there actually developed a considerable market -- there is a great exhibition on lynchings if you have an opportunity to see it. it is really moving. the composition of lynch mobs is often difficult to discern, but researchers believe that the hailedpants held --
across the spectrum. they were rich folks, poor folks, civil leaders, church leaders. there was this interesting element of mass complicity. -- we tend to focus on the most immediate perpetuate her's of violence, those people who made the nooses and actually kill the people, but i think what is interesting and important about the lynching and the public spectacle was the way that it was kind of this of violencer effort against an individual and assertion of white supremacy and perceived black crimes or black insertion into political and economic authority. there is another form of violence i think is important to
history.about southern i would like to just borrow from european and russian history and thick about -- and think about that. in russia, there is a term used --define the wrecking of their waking of havoc or to demolish violently. tax --cally refers to a ks of of non--- attach non-jewish populations toward jewish populations. in america, they are called race riots. in wilmington, north carolina, a mob of nearly 2000 men attacked a black newspaper after it published what was perceived as an inflammatory article, questioning the motives of lynch mobs.
this is kind of against the backdrop of a really important election in which democrats and republicans were vying for political power in the city. two dozen african-americans -- more than two dozen were killed, and many others were forced from towns. this is an important moment in southern history, one around which there is great discussion in wilmington, north carolina. and there was also the tulsa race wyatt -- racer riot in 1921 t in 1921.o in this case, a group of whites performed a 16 hour attack on the green hill district, then known as the black wall street.
in this riot, it is estimated that between three dozen and 300 african-americans were killed, 35 blocks were raised, and over 1000 residents were destroyed. there are amazing photographs of burnt out structures as far as the eye can see. with the rising tide of civil rights activism, we can discern a wave of anxiety throughout the white south. a kind of next chapter in the history of racial violence in america. african-american soldiers returned for more than -- from war, intent on demanding rights from citizens. the naacp and other organizations organized and took on challenges to structures of segregation and inequality. and they began to compile a record of success, small, but gradual successes. to they mobilized efforts regain the right to vote through
voter registration campaigns. through all of these things, we -- measure forms of white whites responded with various forms of violence. violence comes in a variety of different ways. interpersonal violence was a kind of persistent quality of southern society in the mid-20th century. in many instances, for perceivedans violations of etiquette could be met by many forms of interpersonal violence. when we talk about racial etiquette, i think it is important to consider and to use the satellite but more, but we have to imagine a time and a place in -- and to tease this
out a little bit more, but we have to imagine a time and it plays in which african-americans were expected to act in a conservative manner to whites, ,o refer to them as mr. or ms. never in the first name, to take off their hats, to concede the sidewalk so the white person who was walking in the opposite direction. and real or perceived violations of these rules were often met with readings and takings and other forms of humiliation. -- teachings and takings and andr for -- beatings kickings and other forms of humiliation. as a black man, to make any kind of gesture, especially a sexualized gesture, towards a white woman. he paid for that in his life.
there are many other examples of that. political examples of assassination in the south. the cases of george leeann lamarr smith, who attempted to organize voter registration. -- george leeann lamarr smith, who attempted to organize voter registration. -- george lee and lamarr smith. the president of the mississippi conference of the naacp was assassinated by a sniper for his civil rights efforts in jackson, mississippi. the biggest example is martin luther king, junior, who i think was a victim of a political assassination for his political activities. see episodes of racial terrorism in the south, i think. terrorism is the kind of fro in theord to be used
contemporary context, but i don't think it is a stretch to talk about racial terrorism in the jim crow south, especially when we think about the bombing of the 16th street that discharge in 1968. the large amount of dynamite that was placed in that church and detonated with the express purpose of killing and intimidating african-americans for a particular political and, which was to kind of undermine and subvert the growth of the african-american civil rights movement at that time will stop there were numerous ends -- at that time. there were numerous incidents of white mob violence in the jim crow south. demonstrators. if anybody is familiar with the stories of the freedom
riders, when they pulled into those stations in anniston, and montgomery, with the kind of tacit support of the police, whites descended on the buses, on the station, and mercilessly beat these civil rights police stood by and allow that to happen. we can see other incidents of that. and then there is the problem of police violence, which seems to factor in our cold case project here. there is this terrible incident in 1946 that involved a gentleman named isaac. -- isaac wondered. he was a u.s. army -- isaac woodard. a bus and had a dispute with a bus driver. he wanted to use the restroom,
the bus driver objected, the bus driver later called the police, the police removed him from the bust and jailed him. during incarceration, police beat wondered and blinded him. this is a case that became very important in thinking about -- in moving president truman to begin to support various civil rights measures. you think about this american soldier, it became -- it was an important moment, and emblematic moment in thinking about violence in the south. and there is eugene o'connor, most of us know about him and these iconic images and footage of his police force and then unleashing dogs on nonviolent protesters and such.
for us, i challenge us to think about the problem of islands as we give context to the events set -- the events surrounding the murder of isaiah nixon. it is to think about the extent to which what happened to nixon was an aberration, right? i think there is a way in which we might frame is murder as that, as the kind of outcome of two deranged individuals' crazy racism. but i think it is important for toto work to give context all of these incidents of violence, right? themaybe kind of challenge thesis a little bit about these problems that were aberrations to the american creed.
that the problem of violence -- we can talk about race violence or other forms of violence being more central to our collective history than we other times -- oftentimes are willing to admit. and there is this interesting problem of complicity, that it is certainly the case that two men approached isaiah nexen and killed him, literally. but these men were part of a community. witnesses, literally and figuratively, to their violent action. these men had the choice, they had a myriad of choices to hold these men to account or let them go. y's communit
decisions, i think we can tell an interesting story about u.s. history. i would like to kind of leave you with that final challenge, because i think that -- and therein lies the possibility inherent in our work in this class. prof. kilbanoff: we will keep going unless you have some questions. we will push on to the end. prof. gadsden: we will have time for the end, too. prof. kilbanoff: i just started thinking as you were talking, i hadn't put this together. of course, we are looking at icann and in 1948, two been years before -- isaiah nixon in 1948. look at the atlanta race riot .rom 1906 atlanta was very widely
known and understood -- atlanta had and still does one of the most significant upper-middle-class african-american populations in the country, and it did even then. they came under serious attack in the 19 oh six race riots. it just occurred to me that there would have been -- 1906 race riots. it occurred to me that there would have been people alive in who lived through the atlanta race riot and would have remembered it, and it would have sort of been a benchmark moment in their lives. other kla in georgia n-like groups. there was the black shirts. they would threaten businesses that had any thought about hiring blacks. , theyularly in the city
did not want cities to hire blacks. signs to walk around with that said "city jobs are for white folks." they would enforce it brutally. there was the supreme kingdom, ere colombians, there wa homegrown georgia groups that were significant perpetrators of violence. because weesting, were talking yesterday, and we did have this topic where we were noodling through this idea that violence is not necessarily the last resort. when everything else has failed to keep the social order and white supremacy intact, if you andt keep them from voting you can't keep them from sitting in the schools, we are going to go to violence -- that wasn't the case. violence was often the first order of business. it was embedded into the laws,
the voting laws, and the political infrastructure. you can't jump to any presumption that nothing else was working, let's just go and kill. about two things that are really important, i don't know if they will astonish you or surprise you, about the way that georgia was built in one case, and the way that south -- the south was built in the other. politicaltalk about decision-making, only torah politics -- elect world politics -- electoral politics just briefly in georgia. of all dive into the works professor at georgia southern, he is looking at this in a big georgia countye unit system. what can be more boring than to say -- these areden:
political scientists in this room. they should be judging for this. jonesing for this. prof. kilbanoff: that's right. for beings known distinguished by the county unit system. it was a perversion -- don't mean to give you a political statement, but you will see what i mean -- it was a perversion of the political structure that gave the rural parts of the intes far more influence electoral politics than the urban areas. back to the 1700s in georgia, but it really caught fire in the mid-1800s. this system where both the up, and thewas set power was distributed, and elections, and the electoral college.
we all know in this country, the person who wins the most votes does not necessarily become president, it is whoever gets the most electoral votes. georgia had a similar situation called the county unit system. i am going to give you an idea of how that worked, but it was seen as a way of protecting the not letting the big-city slickers run roughshod over the county in the world folks. -- and the rural folks. this is how it works. at the time, georgia had 132 counties, which is a lot. today it has 159. and it has so many counties because that's where the power was. people wanted their own counties so they can have their own power. i'm just going to take you back to the mid-1800s. 132 counties.
the reason i had my board here, i couldn't find a marker, but you all write down and see the maps yourselves. the six largest counties in had three seats each in the house of representatives, that's 18 seats held by the six largest counties. the 31 next largest had two each. and the 95 others had one each. seats out ofhad 95 132. the middle counties had 62. -- largest counties had 80 18. so you can see how they created balance to keep our out of the city slickers. the best politicians were not
those who merely played to the rural interests, but those who targeted the city and urban interests as anathema to the overall best interest of the state. that is something we will look at more closely to understand why when you're running for abandon you can almost the campaign in the cities, because if you could stack up enough rural counties, you -- you one thing. -- you won. what was not unique, but pretty much south wide, was known as the all-white primary. the all-white primary existed in georgia, south carolina, texas, and many states. what that meant was when the democrats had their primary to decide who their candidate would be in the general election, only white people could vote.
now, blacks could vote in the general election, but not in the primary. why is that significant? why is it significant that blacks could not vote in the democratic primary? what would be the simplest explanation? did he beat you to it? student: no, he raised his hand. prof. kilbanoff: all you did was give me a nod. student: wouldn't the primaries be the place -- it's the front runner or whatnot, so you are already putting out representatives of that white believe, so you are not doing much in the general election, because it is already a preordained type of thing. prof. kilbanoff: who was the dominant party in the 1940's?
you are absolutely right, and i'm going to put some more flash on those -- flesh on those bones. who was the dominant party in the south, political party? the democrats. were the party of the white people, ok? are you familiar with to the party of african-americans might have been when they had the vote? republicans. why? african-americans in the 1920's, 1930's, even the late 1800s, more republican? student: [indiscernible] prof. kilbanoff: lincoln was a republican, they were the party of the emancipation proclamation.
because african-americans did not participate and were not allowed to in the political system that much, what really mattered is what happened in the democratic primary. whoever won the democratic primary won the election. in the general election, there would be one person on the ballot. but challenges to this system began mounting in the 1940's. chief among them was a challenge mounted in this state by a man we may not even want to profile this semester, a man named trim us king. he was aided greatly in his challenge to the all-white primary by a manual see on our website when you get to it, thomas brewer, a physician in
columbus, an african-american. him in a lawsuit challenging in federal court the sayinge county, they are , their failure to allow me to vote in the democratic primary is a violation of my 14th and 15 amendment -- 15th amendment rights. equal protection and voting rights. themederal court, two of found in favor of king gone this -- on this in 1945 and 1946. do you see the period we are talking about? we are talking about the period leading up to the murders of\ sen. mcconnell -- leading up to the murder of dixon. this was pending, another case reaches the state supreme court and they actually ru
on the texas case first. what they said was the democratic party in the state of texas bank cannot have an all-white primary. the party is an extension of state government, and state government cannot discriminate. interesting dynamic. what does georgia do? they quickly pass a law that says "a party of georgia is not a part of state government, it -- that says the democratic party of georgia is not a part of state government, it can do whatever it wants. court has to take this issue up separately. on april 1, it was no april fool's joke. just three months
before the next door to , in which arimary leading democratic candidate for governor, jean thomas, had been governor three times already. professor gadsden and i caution you to not overuse the word "racist." often meansacists something different. i will use the word out and out racist with you jintao much. he was a populist, he supported do new deal, but he would anything to try to get elected. he is trying to reclaim the governor's office in 1946. he is on the ballot.
the united states supreme court ruled that george's all-white primary was unconstitutional, and said they cannot and black people from voting in the democratic primary. black people from voting in the primary. you would think that we succeeded, we are all going to vote. georgia was not going to give up. it spread to the 1946 election .nd the days leading up to that a lot blacks were disenfranchised further and were not allowed to register, all sorts of barriers. dge gets elected governor in 1946. even as he is awaiting inauguration, and this gets pretty good, the fbi had been investigating the disenfranchisement of blacks in , and had soction
many cases that they were considering indicting eugene talmadge. thenhe governor elect and state of georgia for disenfranchising blacks. one man was the only black man in taylor county to vote, and he was killed shortly after. ge, as governor elect, escaped indictment. how did he do this? because you will never guess this one. he died, ok? mage died before he was able to take office. it unleashed this remarkable period of georgia history where three men claimed to be governor at the same time. governor, who really
by some standards back then had a very progressive reputation, ellis arnold. sitting i am the governor, i am just going to stay here and hold onto this. elect,utenant governor ballot withadge's him, and gets elected lieutenant governor, says, wait a second, i am the next person -- by the first electione in georgia history where there was a lieutenant governor candidate. they had never had one. this is all new to them. -- he saidt his name , no, i am the governor because the governor who was elected died, and i am due to the governor.
here is's son, herman, how he got the claim to be governor. eugeneknown that talmadge was sick. they thought there was a possibility he would not make it. so they deployed people right .nto herman town but at that point, there is no republican on the ballot, there is only talmadge. in second?s herman, with a small number of write-in ballots. so he claims it. this creates a real crisis in georgia. ultimately, the powers that be, , negotiatedrties
and decided the only way to solve this is a do over. let's have another election in 1948. so it is the 1948 election that will be the focus, with isaiah nixon. as we know, like snipes, he too was killed for voting. here, as you dig into this case, and you say, ok, who was isaiah nixon? and you think about what you know, what you read, even in high school, and maybe read "invisible man" by ralph ellison, maybe you read other literature, whether fiction or theiction, about
subservient role that whites reated blacks with, sort of not knowing they were there. and understand that most of these men and women, when they died, they did not make the papers. it was not known, it was tragic and their families. but the world at large did not take note. and they are buried in some cases in unmarked graves, and in some cases in ways that they can never be identified. i want to show you what we discovered when we went down to terrell county to dawson, georgia and met with the james bridger family, the man who was killed for driving the car. we met with his sister, sarah, who was with him the day that -- rushed, took them to
the hospital, for which he never returned. two of his daughters were there the day he was beaten on the lawn by the police. they agreed to take us to the grave site where he is buried. we are really glad they did, because we would have never found it on our own. , down inis gravesite , and this is his headstone. i don't even think a rubbing would tell us who he is. here is a man who is at risk of being lost to history, of being ofipher in history, remaining an invisible man. what we are doing here is
restoring whatever dignity they had by telling their stories. these aren't perfect people. that doesn't matter. they had a story. finding a story, telling their story, trying to get their story something they, we can bring them back to life -- bring their story some dignity. we can bring them back to life -- can't bring them back to life, but we can bring their life meaning. any questions or conversations? [indiscernible] prof. kilbanoff: snipes voted in the primary. student: when did isaiah vote?
prof. kilbanoff: i'm trying to remember the month, i believe that was also the primary. what was most going to be a front to the whites was people voting in the primary. prof. gadsden: i think this is such a great image that i think helped to frame the work that we , that the subject of our work in the cold case has been lost to history, and we have the opportunity to recover them. very powerful to meet the family who showed us the grave, and his headstone that seemed weathered away and will be lost. so i think it will be interesting for us to think about how to recover isaiah and how to tell his story,
and how to maybe hold some of the people to account for their actions against nexen -- nixon. i think it will be a really interesting opportunity for us as writers, as researchers, to consider our obligations to a thanrotter community typically -- broader community than typically asked of students at university. i think here, we are asking you to write to a much broader audience. i think that presents a wonderful opportunity for you to bring to bear your diverse interests and skill sets to recovering these stories and kind of -- doing the work of and the remembering
that so desperately needs to happen. i might alsoff: add that since i have been making this presentation, i did a tedx talk on this. i did it at a board of ethics will stop i had three people -- at a board of ethics. i had three people come forward wanting the family to replace that headstone. -- winning the help the family replace that headstone. to help the family replace that headstone. look for e-mails on friday, and we will reconvene next week at the same time, same place. all right? thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: join us every
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