The history lesson we all need

You should all take a little time to read David Neiwert’s century of lynching and rioting by white people in America, because we sure as hell didn’t get any of this in our public school history classes. This is the stuff that ought to be taught in fifth grade, except that a) a lot of white parents would scream at administrators about their kids being shown a picture of Grampaw smirking in a mob that’s dismembering and burning a black man, and b) I’d be afraid that there’d be some white parents smirking now and drilling the wrong lesson into their kids.

Even now I look at my fellow white people in that photo and wonder what the fuck is wrong with them. How do you participate in such horrors and ever again claim that you are on the side of what is right?

People would be concerned at teaching such graphic horrors in our classrooms now, but look at that — they were bringing their kids to a lynching, like it was a field trip to the local textile museum.


  1. zoniedude says

    The Jim Crow South was also known as the Bible Belt. It’s now the Trump base. Labels change, same evil.

  2. dbarkdog says

    I used to teach this to high school sophomores. I was probably beyond the standards, but the administration never called me on it. Many of the images were very disturbing; especially the ones of parents taking their children to see the action. Not all the lynchings were in the South; one particularly gruesome picture of a double hanging was from Minnesota and a burning was from Nebraska. My school was in a conservative, strongly pro-Trump, small midwestern city. I never got parent complaints or student expressions of admiration for the lynchers. I heard plenty of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant comments, but overt support for old style anti-black racism was uncool; modern subtler expression was pervasive.

  3. says

    Yes. Minnesota was a center of Christian fundamentalism in the last century, the state has a shameful history in Indian affairs (the largest hanging of Indians ever!), and the place has been so white and so exclusive of any minorities (that’s changing fast, fortunately). This is not a Southern problem, it’s an American problem.

  4. says

    You look at some of the photos through the years and some of the grinning white people were young enough to still be alive today, and if they’re not, their children are. The lessons they teach their progeny don’t just disappear in a generation.

  5. nomdeplume says

    Take a child to a lynching before he is seven years old and you’ve got him for life…

  6. dbarkdog says

    Look at a good anthology of lynching pictures. You see plenty of women, small children, young couples, and in fact a complete cross section of white society.

  7. brightmoon says

    My great great grandmother had her house burned down while she was in it. Luckily she got out ! The reason – she was white and married to an Indian . This was in the South. They weren’t allowed to stay in the same house at night . He had to live away from her . Her daughter married a man who was mixed white and black. I’m not surprised that
    her grandchildren were all in the civil rights movement .