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The Rhetoric of Protection

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  1. The Rhetoric of Protection The power of ladyhood as a value construct regulated women’s behavior and restricted interaction with the world under system of southern chivalry Lynching engendered fear of sexual assault and prevented voluntary interracial sex - served as a weapon of racial and sexual terror. White men lynch the offending Afro-American, not because he is a despoiler of virtue, but because he succumbs to the smiles of white women.” (Wells, 1892) “When Southern white women get ready to stop lynching, it will be stopped and not before.” (Ames, 1938) A dramatization of cultural themes “Here was the quintessential Woman as Victim: polluted, ‘ruined for life’ the object of fantasy and secret contempt.” (p.335) To Kill A Mockingbird (1963)

  2. “Hellhounds” From Without Sanctuary(Litwack) • Between 1882 and 1968, an estimated 4,742 blacks were killed by lynch mobs (p.12) • Whites…had come to think of black women and men as inherently and permanently inferior, as less than human, as little more than animals (p.13) • After Emancipation and during Reconstruction, violence characterized by sadism and exhibitionism • Lynchers demonstrated racial and community solidarity – complacent, matter-of-fact - “At he hands of unknown parties” • The Negro as beast became a fundamental part of the white South’s racial imagery (similar to Sambo). Dual nature: docile and amiable when enslaved, savage when free (p.23) • Of 3,000 black lynchings between 1889-1918, only 19% accused of rape • Lynching as an expression of Southern fear of Negro progress than of Negro crime (p. 29) • For African Americans - pragmatic resignation and survival

  3. The Historical Connections Between Rape and Lynching(Jaqueline Dowd Hall, 1983) In the 19th century South, slave owners meted out “plantation justice” undisturbed by any rule of law. Sexual exploitation of black women institutionalized under slavery Lynching as an instrument of coercion – creating a climate of fear The “protection of white womanhood” and the image of the black rapist as a “monstrous beast” (p.334) pervasive fixtures of racist ideologies The myth of the black rapist – Factual info - less than 25% of lynching victims accused of rape The “emotional circuit” between interracial rape and lynching undermines factual refutation

  4. Ida B. WellsJuly 16, 1862 - March 25, 1931 • In 1884 she was asked by the conductor of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat on the train to a white man Wells refused and was forcefully removed from the train. She sued. • Editor and co-owner of a Memphis black newspaper called "The Free Speech and Headlight.“ Wells used her paper to attack the evils of lynching • Formed the Women's Era Club, the first civic organization for African-American women. • Wells was one of the founding members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “The real purpose of these savage demonstrations” (lynching) is to teach the Negro that in the South he has no rights that the law will enforce.” Ida Bell Wells-Barnett - born Holy Springs, Mississippi

  5. Jessie Daniel Ames1883-1972 • In 1914, out of financial necessity, Ames went to work at the Georgetown Telephone Company, owned by her mother, also a widow. Both emerged as competent, tough-minded competitors in a male-dominated business community. • In 1930 Ames founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL). • She challenged the notion that white women needed protection from African-American men. She pointed out that alleged rapes of white women by African-American men, the supposed rationale for a lynching, seldom occurred and that the true motive for lynching was rooted in racial hatred. Jessie Daniel Ames Texas suffragist and civil-rights activist 1883-1972

  6. Why the Photographic Display of LynchingWithout Sanctuary ?“A necessarily painful and ugly story” • Intent: to depict the extent and quality of the violence unleashed on black men and women in the name of enforcing black deference and subordination (white supremacy) • Easier to choose path of collective amnesia or dismiss as depraved – need to remember • Need to understand how normal men and women could live with, participate and defend such atrocities

  7. The Lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, 1930, Marion, Indiana

  8. The Lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, 1930, Marion, Indiana

  9. James Cameron and The Black Holocaust Museum Milwaukee museum teaches about atrocities of racism The first time you hear the name of a museum dedicated to educating future generations about the atrocities of racism committed against African Americans, you might think it sounds odd. But America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee was founded by a survivor of a mob lynching who wants visitors to learn from the past and understand how racism begins and grows. James Cameron was falsely arrested, along with two of his friends, when he was 16 years old in 1930 for the murder of a white man in Indiana. He and his friends were beaten and the other two were hanged by an angry mob. Cameron miraculously lived through the beating and served four years in a state prison. In later years, Cameron became a leader of local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapters and civil rights activities in Indiana and Wisconsin, and wrote a book about his experience, A Time of Terror. In 1988 he founded America's Black Holocaust Museum to provide visitors with an opportunity to rethink their assumptions about race and racism. Cameron's collection included photographs, books and exhibits that document lynch mobs and racism in America. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  10. Class Discussion • Can museum visitors “learn from the past and understand how racism begins and grows”? • Is it possible to “understand how normal men and women could live with, participate and defend lynching” through photo display? • How would you choose to depict racism? What aims would you have in mind?