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For scores of years, newspapers printed hate, leading to racist terror lynchings and massacres of Black Americans

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Hundreds of white-owned newspapers across the country incited the racist terror lynchings and massacres of thousands of Black Americans. In their headlines, these newspapers often promoted the brutality of white…

Lawmakers and advocates see new tool against hate crimes as lynching becomes federal crime

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WASHINGTON – Some lawmakers and civil rights advocates are calling for the Justice Department to be more aggressive in prosecuting hate crimes now that lynching is a federal hate crime.

Memorials to lynching victims challenge who writes nation’s history

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James White looked at the barren ground in Elaine, Arkansas, where a memorial tree dedicated to hundreds of Black lynching victims once grew and reflected on his hometown.

Confederate monument stands at site of 1922 Arkansas lynching

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The day after Gilbert Harris was lynched in downtown Hot Springs, the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record sought to defend his killing: “There was not racial prejudice in that lynching of yesterday…

A lynching countenanced by the white press and church

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George White prayed incessantly as the lynch mob leaders placed dry straw around him and a stake with twigs in Wilmington, Delaware.

Some Protestant churches welcomed revival of the Ku Klux Klan

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The revival of the Ku Klux Klan began in November 1915 with a cross burning atop Stone Mountain, Georgia, led by Methodist preacher William Joseph Simmons, who functioned as the…

Robert Vann’s Pittsburgh Courier set a pattern for what the Black press could do

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The Pittsburgh Courier that Robert L. Vann acquired in 1910 was a newspaper of humble beginnings. Its previous owner was a security guard at the H.J. Heinz Company food packing…

Freedom’s Journal Marked the Beginning of the Black Press

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Not quite 40 years after Freedom of the Press became protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, a group of free Black men came together to discuss the news…

Simeon Booker among Black chroniclers of civil rights-era atrocities

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Simeon Booker, then a reporter for Jet magazine, was a witness to history on the day in 1955 when Mamie Till Mobley stared at the bloodied and bloated body of…

Black journalist Alexander M. Rivera, who covered Willie Earle lynching trial, recalls tension, fear

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Alexander M. Rivera, a Black reporter and photographer for The Pittsburgh Courier, was on assignment to cover “the trial of the century” as he and others described it to readers,…

NAACP head Walter White was a pioneering Black journalist

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Breathlessly, the man scrambled along the railroad tracks, barely catching the next northbound train out of town. He bought his ticket onboard and tried to swallow a sense of foreboding.

Frederick Douglass founded newspapers to allow Black writers to tell their own stories

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He boarded the northbound train in Baltimore dressed as a sailor. He carried questionable identification documents, and some travel money given him by the woman he soon would marry.

James Weldon Johnson gave voice to Black people’s dignity and creativity

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The words were meant to be spoken, not sung. It was supposed to be a speech honoring Abraham Lincoln—born nine decades earlier, assassinated half a century later, yet still revered…

Ida B. Wells Exposed the Economic Truths Behind Lynchings

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Ida B. Wells-Barnett had a special connection to Thomas Moss, and didn’t understand how he could have done what they said he had.

A Timeline of Post-Civil War Racial Terror and Federal Legislative Efforts to Stop It

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The question of slavery, and whether and when it should end, divided America from its inception, and eventually moved the nation toward Civil War. The dispute reached a peak on…

Billie Holiday v. The White Press

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Billie Holiday looks at the stage floor, then takes a deep breath. She gazes straight into the audience and begins to sing, “Southern trees bear a strange fruit./ Blood on…

Our new database expands the scope of ‘Printing Hate’ series

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A white-owned Mississippi newspaper justified the 1907 lynching of Henry Sykes, a Black man who was hanged by a mob, writing: “When there is no law to reach the offender…the…

The horrors of lynching photographs and postcards

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During the late 19th and early 20th century, thousands of photographs and postcards of Black Americans killed by white mobs in racist terror lynchings were collected, traded and sent through…

The Arkansas racial massacre almost no one remembers

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In March 1904, three men — two Black, one white — gathered on a houseboat on the White River in Arkansas, a tributary to the Mississippi, for an evening of…

A hall-of-fame Maryland editor ‘published racist viewpoints with pride’

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — It began with questions about why almost all the faces on the wall of honor in the journalism building at the University of Maryland’s flagship campus…

News coverage of lynchings of Mexicans, Asians and Native Americans followed established patterns

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The long, gruesome history of lynchings in the U.S. is usually understood through the deaths of Black Americans, who for centuries fell victim to extralegal violence.

AP spread racist Jim Crow-era coverage to a national audience

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When 17-year-old Henry Smith left Paris, Texas, after being questioned in the rape and murder of a white toddler, a railroad company offered free transportation to anyone who wanted to…

The lynching of Willie Earle prompted a trial, but no convictions

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The 1947 lynching of Willie Earle in Greenville, South Carolina, by some accounts the state’s last, was just like so many others.
Elaine, Arkansas

Two narratives: How a 1919 massacre tore Elaine, Arkansas, apart

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On a late September night in 1919, about 100 Black farmers seeking fairer prices for their crops gathered for a union meeting at a church a few miles north of…

History focuses on men, but Black women were lynched, too

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It was a Sunday morning, July 12, 1914. The woman had been in the Elloree, South Carolina, jailhouse since the night before. Soon, a mob would come, put her in…
The new historical marker for Mary Turner and the Lynching Rampage in 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Mary Turner Project.)

A pregnant woman’s lynching resonates through generations

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It was May 18, 1918, and Mary Turner was grieving. Her husband, Hayes Turner, had been lynched without a trial, accused of being an accomplice in the murder of a…

Newspapers falsely reported Slocum Massacre as a race revolt

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White men bought ammunition and stopped at saloons on a hot summer day in 1910 in Slocum, Texas. They had sheltered their wives and children in churches and schools. They…

Atlanta newspapers’ white supremacy fueled 1906 race massacre

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In 1906, two of Atlanta’s most prominent newspapermen committed an act that many of today’s journalists would consider a sin: Hoke Smith, the publisher of The Atlanta Journal, and Clark…

‘We can do better’: Annapolis has embraced the need to address its legacy of lynchings and racial terror

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On a typical day in downtown Annapolis, tourists fill the brightly adorned curio and clothing shops that line Main Street, squeezed in between fudge stores, seafood restaurants and other eateries.

Newspapers called Tallahassee lynching victims animals, insane

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Members of the Tallahassee Community Remembrance Project waited under the roof of a gray building where the Leon County Jail once stood, seeing if the rain would pass. They were…

Kentucky newspapers often blamed Black victims for lynchings

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Holding 2-year-old Ransey in her arms, Annie Walker begged the Night Riders for mercy. “Disregarding her pleadings, the infuriated mob opened fire and a bullet pierced the body of the…

Columbus, Mississippi, newspapers were not innocent bystanders to racist violence

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COLUMBUS, Miss. — In a roughly 150-square-foot room on the second floor of The Commercial Dispatch, the newspaper of record for Columbus and surrounding Lowndes County, Mississippi, are large, heavy…

Yazoo City’s newspaper had a history of providing a forum for its pro-lynching readership

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Bettye Gardner remembers her family telling her the tragic story of William Henderson Foote, her granduncle who was lynched in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1883.

Massive public lynchings of Black men were nurtured by Waco, Texas, newspapers

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In the early 20th century, the people of Waco dubbed their city the “Athens of Texas.” Waco, however, had another side.

Despite repeated efforts, a federal anti-lynching law has not passed Congress in 130 years

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Although lynch mobs primarily targeted Black people, the first effort to pass a federal anti-lynching law had nothing to do with African Americans. Instead, it followed the 1891 lynchings of…
Danville is Last Confederate Capital

In the 1880s, election fraud and a massacre stopped Black progress

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On Nov. 4, 1883, a white mob, fearful of Black political power and riled up by false newspaper narratives, took to the streets of Danville three days before the election…

Inspired by Associate Professor DeNeen Brown’s reporting on the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism recruited 31 journalism students from the University of Maryland, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. They spent the summer of 2021 digging deep into archives and interviewing descendants, experts and historians to document the power of white-owned newspapers to harm the Black community. They were joined in the fall by another 27 students from UMD and two students from the University of Arkansas.

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