Southern Horrors Summary

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An Analysis of Southern Horrors and Other Writings In the period immediately following the Civil War, racial tensions were extremely high in the South. During this period of Reconstruction, the majority of white citizens still fostered deep hatred towards recently freed African Americans. As a result, lynch law prevailed. Hundreds of African Americans were viciously murdered, as the government failed to step in and stop the killings. Ida B. Wells, an African-American journalist and one of the early leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, investigated the reasons behind these lynchings. According to Wells, whites used a variety of excuses to justify their murders, claiming that they were stopping race riots, protecting the “White man’s government,” …show more content…
The majority of African American males were accused and lynched for allegedly raping white women. Whites claimed that the Negroes needed to be killed in order to avenge their assaults of white women. In her essay Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, Wells writes that, “Nobody in this section of the country believes the old thread bare lie that Negro men rape white women… A conclusion will then be reached which will be very damaging to the moral reputation of their women” (52). To the disgrace of whites, many of the so-called “rapes” were actually consensual. Often, the women would later admit to their husbands that the accused man was actually innocent. In addition, less than one-third of the victims were actually charged with rape. Wells spent a large amount of time researching this topic. Her evidence showed that there was nothing that supported claims of African American men demonstrating character flaws that would make women feel unsafe in their presence. Accusing black men of rape was the simply just the easiest way for whites to justify their lynching …show more content…
One of the reasons for lynching was to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth. Whites wanted to limit the social, political, and economic lives of African Americans. Wells shared a story in her autobiography of three friends who were murdered because they operated a grocery store that was in competition with a different store operated by a white man. An altercation occurred and the three black men were jailed, but were shot to pieces before they received a fair judicial trial. The altercation provided the white men the small opportunity they needed to resist the progress of three Negroes, and they took full

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