The introduction of this reading laid out the history of Prince Edward County and how the district withdrew from all things public school. Strikes started in 1951 with the protesting of unequal school facilities. As the county withdrew from open public schools, nearly 2,700 African American studies were locked out from their local school. It would take until the 1970s for schools to be meaningfully integrated. What I found most interesting about this section was that white citizens also suffered from the schools closing, not as bad as it was for those in the African American community, but suffered from being unwilling or unable to send their children to white private schools.
The first chapter was on white supremacy and black resistance in Prince Edward County. The school board denied requests for more African American teachers. In turn, the African American community started to raise money to build a new school and pay teachers. In the fall of 1935, there were 469 students in a school that could hold 325 (pg. 22). This chapter then discussed how “segregation in Virginia often took the forms of quiet cruelties” (pg. 26) with a limited number of beds available in hospitals for African Americans. The author then introduces Barbara Johns who helped to start the planning for the Moton High School strike. Attorney’s petitions demanded an end to school segregation in that county and then there were discussions of equalization vs desegregation. A court case was the result of everything going on at MHS and judges did admit that Moton was lacking a lot of what the white schools had. At this point, the Supreme Court was not in a rush to take on the case.
The second chapter focused on how Southern states were fiercer in their resistance to the desegregation of schools. The Virginia Governor at the time asked those in positions of power to keep accepting segregation within the county. This was then backed up as the PEC Board of Supervisors said that it would be impossible to operate a non-segregated school system in Virginia (pg. 52). Fifty-four weeks after the Brown decision, the Supreme Court revealed how desegregation would be carried out. By 1957, three of the five school districts involved in Brown had begun desegregation, except for Prince Edward and Claredon County. After the Brown II decision, PEC citizens went to the Board of Supervisors to ask that no funds be appropriated for public schools if they were required to integrate. Later, Arlington became the first to announce an integration plan. There was a larger push for segregation coming from politicians and the Defenders of State Sovereignty as the groups became more enlightened about maintaining white supremacy.
The next chapter focused on how massive resistance across the county started to collapse. The author also examined how North Carolina approached desegregations and that they relied on school localities rather than by the state. The author noted that they would have a better chance of being held up in court by doing this. For the 1958-1959 school year, the court ordered school integration. By September of 1958, the US district court ordered that the Warren County School Board to admit 22 black students (pg. 83). But by June of 1959, schools were still segregated.
The last chapter focused on how the public schools opened back up and the protests of the Summer of 1963. That summer there were protests throughout the county and the Free Schools and African American community confirmed that they were outsiders who were concerned with the education crisis in the county. Many around the states also feared that the school closings would affect the states ability to lure in new industry. In 1962, Supreme Court justices reversed the state appeals court decision and concluded that PEC schools could not remain closed while other schools continued to operate. Two years later, the Supreme Court recognized that closures affected more blacks than whites. In October of 1964, schools were open but were still lacking a lot of educational/school necessities. The next step was getting African American community members on the Board of Supervisors and by 1969 there were two on the board.
I really enjoyed this reading and thought that it was very interesting. I knew about Price Edward Country from reading Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County, but I didn’t know about a lot of the things that the author covered. I enjoyed the reading because it was definitely beneficial to have the information as I go into teaching.
The introduction begins by stating that lynching was a “southern obsession.” I think this was an overarching theme seen throughout the sections of this text. Similar to lady hood and femininity being the role of white women and prize of white men, lynching was the right of passage and a role that young white men had to “shoulder.” While it shouldn’t surprise me the extent of how deeply ingrained this was into the culture, as I read I did wonder why (even though it was clear) the south remained stuck in it’s ways when the surrounding American seemed to be more progressive, even still with mob violence being a key characteristic. The history of mob violence and lynching, since 17th century Ireland, continued with the power struggle to maintain dominance against anyone who went against the norm. Throughout it’s history, lynchings have seen rise and fall with economic trend. When the economy was better lynchings were used to “encourage” good slave behavior, and keeping slavery established a symbol of power with white men. However, even after the abolition of slavery, white men continued their tradition of dominating by doling out punishment. When the surrounding states rates of black lynchings dwindled, the southern rates maintained.
An exception in the south was Virginia. In Virginia’s “New South” it made a divergence from the southern obsession. Expansions, like the railroads, brought racially and ethnically diverse communities together with a “surprising degree of harmony.” A trend that still remained was where there was an economic decline, there was an increase in violence. Still in Virginia white men practiced their control. During a time when black men could own land they would only be sold small enough portions to where it wouldn’t have an impact on the white man, and certainly not enough to provide for one’s family.
I think that had I not ever been assigned to read excerpts like these that I never would have known the extent to how bad lynching was, and especially how grave the situation was in the south. Additionally, I did not realize how long the south held on to it’s ways even though America had continued to progress outside of the south.
The statistics on lynchings by mob violence are highlighting the differences between regions in the US at the time. While the “far West’s” numbers are not surprising considering the image we have of the “wild, untamed, and lawless west,” some of the other numbers were surprising for me. While I expected the south’s numbers to be high, I didn’t even consider having lynched whites take any amount of the percentages in the overall (except the west). It was eye opening to realize the extent of mob violence as a whole that was taking place, and for me the numbers in the midwest, since I’m from there, were shocking. I knew there would be some amount of lynchings since especially Indiana played a big part in the hierarchy of the KKK in the early 20th Century. I certainly didn’t expect to have whites outnumber blacks in this arena.
It does make sense that this mob violence would increase with economic frustrations that occurred in these areas, although that fact is frustrating to know that humanity when going through a rough period resorts to violence of one another. The south was experiencing a dramatic change of their total way of life, the “west” was defining what it would become, but the north and the midwest I don’t think had as much upheaval going on. Mob lynchings becoming a normal and celebrated event that entire towns watched and brought their children to seems a foreign concept today.
The fact that Virginia had the fewest lynchings in the south is very interesting. Ironically because of Virginia’s rise in industrial communities that included more immigrants and higher amounts of black community members mob violence was reduced but centered on the areas of urbanization and change. The examples at the end of this reading that highlight the different mayors’ involvement in trying to stop mob violence are eye opening. The fact that they were all more interested in reducing the mob mentality not for protecting the black community but to maintain control of their authority is depressing. Using the idea of segregation as a pathway to control is just exchanging one cruelty for another.
Blog Post #1
Lynching is a part of America’s past which is not completely understood. It
took place mainly in the south but not exclusively. The lynching of
African-American’s only became popular after the end of slavery, prior to this
slave owners were reluctant to allow punishment of their property by anyone
other than a state official. If their property was confiscated by the state,
the slaveowner was compensated for their loss. In the South, almost 4,000
people were lynched between 1880 and 1930. This is out of the nearly 5,200
total individuals killed. In some ways, it is interesting that only
eighty-three people were killed in Virginia, mainly in the southwest corner of
In both Piedmont and the Tidewater, sexual offenses precipitated more than
half of all lynching’s. Concern for the black populations’ safety in Virginia
can be seen in the nineteenth century through the convention held in Richmond
in 1879, “for the purpose of considering matters connected with the welfare,
rights, and improvement of the colored race.” (163) It can also be seen in the
unsuccessful attempt to pass anti-lynching legislation in 1880 by delegate
Richard G. L. Paige.
Although violence in Virginia was somewhat rare compared to other states,
the violence in Roanoke, VA in 1893 was unique. The calling out of the militia,
the exchange of gunfire whether provoking or not is extraordinary, seven killed
and twenty-five wounded. The subsequent actions of Governor O’Farrell to
protect and seek justice for three women, whom he believed were wrongly
convicted, is astonishing. It is interesting that no lynching took place in
Virginia after the adoption of antilynching legislation. Normally the enactment
of law does not stop the behavior they are meant to criminalize.
During the introduction of this text, the author discusses how lynching was a southern obsession and that it became a manifestation of a campaign to impose racial hierarchy. Unlike other forms of punishment available during this time, lynching was more visible and drew in large crowds of people, including mobs. These mobs were often violent and this violence became another characteristic feature of race relations in the South. I thought that it was interesting how once slavery was dismantled, it left a “void in the enforcement of white supremacy” (p. 6). Because of that void, individuals turned to mob violence and lynching. This action and violence would maintain the caste system in the South as the reasons behind them were local and specific to the area. I also found it interesting, throughout this reading, how the author discussed the Republican party’s commitment to protecting African Americans in the 1870s. I am curious as to when the political parties flipped to where now the Democratic party seems to be the one doing the protecting.
The next section on the geography of lynching in Virginia was very eye-opening and interesting to me. I was not aware of lynching happening as many times as it did. But I did not find it surprising that there was a smaller number of lynchings in comparison to other southern states. Virginia saw an evolution within the economy, which still created racial frictions, but “Virginians believed that racial boundaries could be maintained without the need to resort to persistent violence” (p. 141). From 1880-1930, there were 28 lynchings across the state. The 1890s also saw a new industrial order with a shift from self-sufficiency to dependency. Because of this shift and new industrials areas, the author discussed how evidence suggests that there was a growing racial harmony between races in many industrial communities. This was not the same for cosmopolitan towns in southwestern Virginia as there was much broader support of lynchings in these areas. I found it interesting that there was mob violence and lynching only occurred in major cities as Eastern VA, the Tidewater area, the Southside, or Piedmont did not have any extralegal violence that was prevalent. The lynching that did occur, the author noted, tended to take place due to sexual assault.
In the last section about the response to lynching, the author explained how the reasoning to lynch rested on social and societies foundations of race, crime, and sexuality. It was moved that legal action had to be taken by the state or local authorities, which many then became committed to the law and order of the state. During this time, many turned to newspapers which influenced what people were reading about and then how people were reacting to lynchings. But even still, mob violence was posing a serious challenge on the social order of the state. The author discussed Governor O’Ferralls actions and his campaign against mob violence. This period of time saw a decrease in lynchings and he had left a legacy to stop this form of violence. By 1900, there was a widespread sentiment that governors had to assume a large responsibility in the prevention of lynching. Apart from governors, local chapters of the NAACP also had a major influence and worked to prosecute those involved in mob violence. Before then local authorities had utilized state militias, but now justice was coming from the courts. Twenty-eight years later in 1928, the state passed an anti-lynching law.
I thought that this was a very interesting and eye-opening read. We learn about lynchings in high school history class, but I think that there is a misconception on that this kind of violence stopped with the Emancipation Proclamation, which was not the case. I think that it is important to understand that this was a form of violence that was still taking place, and is still happening in some states.