Stand Up Straight, Look at the Camera, and Say “Cheese.”

On The Courthouse lawn cover photo

An estimated 5,000 Black human beings were lynched in the United States between the years 1890 and 1960. By averages, that’s one African-American dying horribly, in racist mob violence, every five days for seventy years. In almost all of these cases, no one was ever charged for the crimes. So affirms the guest on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, 2 pm ET.

In her book, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-first Century (Beacon), Sherrilyn A. Ifill, a professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law, dissects the history of lynching by narrowing in on instances of it in the Maryland area.

The title of her book refers to the fact that, as opposed to solely taking place covertly, in hidden, wooded areas, lynching was often done right at the justice seat, in plain sight of law enforcement, in daylight.

Such is the case in the above photo, which forms the cover of Dr. Ifill’s book. It’s from a postcard; memorabilia of a lynching was often traded, sold, or sent to friends and family.

According to records, it documents the lynching of Lige Daniels, in a Texas town called Center, on August 3, 1920. Reportedly, the back reads, “He killed Earl’s grandma. She was Florence’s mother. Give this to Bud. From Aunt Myrtle.”

You can hear this thoughtful woman’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, you can check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, check out our archive for up to two weeks after broadcast.



#1 kim on 04.25.08 at 3:04 pm

another day in america
free.dumb, and hypocrisy
we gotta stop playing games cause we’re only playing by their rules

#2 Ray Winbush on 04.26.08 at 6:00 am

I hate lynching photos for obvious reasons, but increasingly I’ve been looking at the people in the pictures and the macabre looks on their faces. They say a lot about the animalistic nature of white supremacists.

#3 Camille on 04.27.08 at 12:24 pm

I am 46 years old and from California. I have had three friends lynched. One in the late 70s and two in the mid 80s. The kind of activity is not a “thing of the past.” Each one of cases was closed as a suicide.

#4 Rob Fields on 04.30.08 at 4:54 pm

Another book on the subject is James Allen’s “Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America”. I happened across it in Barnes & Noble. It’s powerful.

#5 el philthmoor on 05.01.08 at 2:22 am

i live in Harlem(home of HillBilly..yeah right) and theres a wall dedicated to lynch pictures up here..every other day i stop and pay my fullest respects to my ancestors and promise them to uphold their legacy and make sure they havent died in vain..with that said What can be done to heal these wounds that will always fester until justice is served?? we’re currently dealing with the most current lynching which is Sean Bell and everyone is on edge to be honest witcha..although we know the trap is already set to counter anyone being vigilant i must say some people dont care anymore We feel invisible and expendable in societies eyes?? i cant have healthy relationships with caucasians based on their profound arrogance and silence in holding their parents and grandparents accountable for being sadistic and heartless towards millions of innocent souls?? foreigners cant believe what they see because these images are supressed and/or not even talked about around the world all they seen was DisneyWorld??imagine the lynchings that werent captured on film??why hasnt anyone declared this dark period a holocaust??wheres our reparations?? why do we uphold Israel but will never uphold our ancestors??i need answers

#6 Elspeth on 10.26.08 at 5:11 pm

There are no answers. Just know there are caucasians here who are sick about what their ancestors might have done, who are humbled by the weight of history, who feel just as powerless as you to change things. Who maybe feel some power to push things the right way by casting our vote for Obama…

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