On this date, July 28, in 1917, the NAACP staged it’s first silent protest rally against lynching. Nearly fifteen thousand African Americans marched down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue demonstrating their support for a government stoppage of lynching, race riots, and the denial of rights.
The participants marched behind a row of drummers carrying banners calling for justice and equal rights. The only sound was the beat of muffled drums.
A post reconstruction fact: these murders were ongoing in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the beginning decades of the twentieth century. The lynching of Black people in the Southern and Border States became an institutionalized method used by whites to terrorize African-Americans and maintain white supremacy. Mainly in the South, during the period 1880 to 1940, there was deep-seated and all-pervading hatred and fear of the Negro which led white mobs to turn to “lynch law” as a means of social control. Lynching, open public murders of individuals suspected of crime conceived and carried out spontaneously by a mob seem to have been an American invention.
Most of the lynching was by hanging or shooting, or both. However, many were of a more hideous nature, burning at the stake, maiming, dismemberment, castration, and other brutal methods of physical torture. Lynching was a cruel combination of racism and sadism, which was utilized primarily to sustain the caste system in the South. Many white people believed that Negroes could only be controlled by fear. To them, lynching was seen as the most effective means of control. Before 1882, no reliable statistics of lynching were recorded. In that year, the Chicago Tribune first began to take systematic account of lynching. Shortly thereafter, in 1892, Tuskegee Institute began to make a systematic collection and tabulation of lynching statistics. [Continue reading at the African American Registry.]
For further reading and research, also see Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America by Cameron McWhirter. [book link]