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We distinguish racial terror lynchings—the subject of this report—from hangings and mob violence that followed some criminal trial process or that were committed against non-minorities without the threat of terror.
Those lynchings were a crude form of punishment that did not have the features of terror lynchings directed at racial minorities who were being threatened and menaced in multiple ways.
Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana had the highest number of lynchings.
Lafayette, Hernando, Taylor, and Baker counties in Florida; Early County, Georgia; Fulton County, Kentucky; and Lake and Moore Counties in Tennessee had the highest rates of terror lynchings in America.
The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s challenged the legality of many of the most racist practices and structures that sustained racial subordination but the movement was not followed by a continued commitment to Truth and reconciliation is a concept of restorative justice that is used to address oppressive histories of mass violence and systematic human rights abuses.
We reviewed local newspapers, historical archives, and court records; conducted interviews with local historians, survivors, and victims’ descendants; and exhaustively examined contemporaneously published reports in African American newspapers.
Lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans in ways that are still evident today.
Terror lynchings fueled the mass migration of millions of black people from the South into urban ghettos in the North and West throughout the first half of the twentieth century.
Thousands of people fled to the North and West out of fear of being lynched. In all of the subject states, we observed that there is an astonishing absence of any effort to acknowledge, discuss, or address lynching.
Many of the communities where lynchings took place have gone to great lengths to erect markers and monuments that memorialize the Civil War, the Confederacy, and historical events during which local power was violently reclaimed by white Southerners.