After the Civil War, the people who had been enslaved didn't suddenly enjoy full
freedom. Most people who have power - and especially people who did not earn it
but simply inherited it - do not give up their advantages easily. In the United States,
money equals might; in the American South, that wealth was counted in land,
enslaved people, and white racism. American capitalism was founded on cruelty, and
freedom after the Civil War didn't change that. What made the incredible cruelty in
the years between 1866 and 1960 in the Red River Valley so much more noticeable
than before the Civil War was that after 1866, violence became a public act reported
in the newspapers rather than an undocumented act in the confines of plantations.
The following articles document several instances of post-Civil War violence that
whites inflicted on blacks soley because of their race. Almost exclusively, prominent
white men (i.e., town leaders, bankers, planters, doctors, etc) accused black men of
raping white women and children, or murdering their employers/debtors. These
accusations were often not met in a court of law. Instead, they resulted in brutal
public, extra-legal executions. The white men in the lynching mobs were easily
recognizable to their fellow citizens, and newspapers explained their crimes in great
detail. However, NOT ONE of the white men ever faced criminal charges after carrying
out heinous acts that included genital and bodily mutilation and torture.
The examples of racial violence in the Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction
periods along the Red River Valley are not an exhaustive list. I will be adding more
histories as time and research allow.
|Between 1866 and 1930, the New South along the Red River witnessed a record
number of racist brutalizations against African Americans by white supremacists.
|Not all of the incredible violence in the Red River Valley perpetrated against African
Americans was documented; often, these acts were so commonplace as to avoid
much mention in the newspapers of the day. This website will continue to collect the
histories of these acts because historians have the obligation to remind citizens to
|The 1893 lynching of Henry Smith was the beginning of what scholars call
"Spectacle Lynching" - a vigilante execution where the lynchers are known by
name, and in which the lynching is attended and condoned by thousands of
spectators, city leaders, and private industry (LOC).