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Anti-Lynching Movement

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The Anti-lynching movement was one of many civil rights movements established in the United States. The purpose of the movement was to end lynching of African-American men and women. The movement was comprised mainly of African-American men and women who worked in a variety of ways to end the practice.

Origins of Lynching

Following the passing of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, African-Americans were considered full citizens of the United States. As such they sought to build businesses and homes that would help establish communities. In response, white supremacist organizations sought to repress African-American communities. With the establishment of Jim Crow laws prohibiting African-Americans from being able to participate in all aspects of American life, white supremacists had destroyed their enfranchisement. And to destroy any means of success and oppress a community, lynching was used to create fear.

Establishment

Although there is no clear founding date of the anti-lynching movement, it peaked around 1890s. The earliest and most reliable record of lynching were found in 1882 with 3,446 victims being African-American men and women. Almost concurrently, African-American newspapers began publishing news articles and editorials to show their outrage at these acts. For instance, Ida B. Wells-Barnett expressed her outrage in the pages of Free Speech a paper she published out of Memphis. When her offices where burned in retaliation for her investigative journalism, Wells-Barnett continued to work from New York City, publishing A Red Record. James Weldon Johnson wrote about lynching in the New York Age. Later as a leader in the NAACP, he organized silent protests against the actions--hopeing to bring national attention. Walter White, also a leader in the NAACP, used his light complextion to gather research in the South about lynching. The publication of this news article bought national attention to the issue and as a result, several organizations were established to fight against lynching.

Organizations

The anti-lynching movement was spearheaded by organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), the National Association of Colored People (NAACP), the Council for Interracial Cooperation (CIC) as well as the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL). All of these organization worked to fight against lynching. By using education, legal action, as well as news publications, these organizations worked to end lynching. Ida B. Wells-Barnett worked with both the NACW and NAACP to establish anti-lynching legislation. Women such as Angelina Weld Grimke and Georgia Douglass Johnson, both writers, used poetry and other literary forms to expose the horrors of lynching.

White women joined in the fight against lynching in the 1920s and 1930s. Women such as Jessie Daniel Ames and others worked through the CIC and ASWPL to end the practice of lynching. The writer, Lillian Smith wrote a novel entitled Strange Fruit in 1944. Smith followed up with a collection of essays entitled Killer of Dreams in which she bought the arguments established by the ASWPL to the national forefront.

Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill

African-American women, working through the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), were among the first to protest lynching. During the 1920s, the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill became the first anti-lynching bill to be voted on by the Senate. Although the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill ultimately did not become a law, its supporters did not feel they had failed. The attention made citizens of the United States condemn lynching. In addition, money raised to enact this bill was given to the NAACP by Mary Talbert. The NAACP used this money to sponosor its federal antilynching bill that was proposed in the 1930s.

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