There is a dirt road just north of the small town of Shubuta, in Clarke County, Miss., that seems to lead to nowhere, or at least nowhere anyone might want to go. If you turn onto East Street and follow the northerly bend in the road, you encounter a padlocked gate emblazoned with bright orange “No Trespassing” signs. A few hundred yards farther, at a densely wooded bend in the road, a rusty bridge spans the Chickasawhay River. Between World War I and World War II, white vigilantes lynched six black victims at this spot. There is no historical marker, no memorial; just a rickety span that locals call the Hanging Bridge….
Two important events in the unfinished history of southern racial violence occurred earlier this month. On Feb. 10, the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative released “Lynching in America,” an unflinching report that documents 3,959 black victims of mob violence in 12 southern states between 1877 and 1950. The same day, a U.S. District Court judge handed down sentences in the federal government’s first prosecution in Mississippi under the Shephard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. If not for the sentencing remarks that Judge Carlton Reeves delivered to three participants in the June 2011 killing of James Craig Anderson, perhaps no one would be talking about these events in the same breath. They should….
On September 12, 1920, armed white men abducted a black prisoner from the Clarke County jail in Quitman, Mississippi. The captive, Will Echols, had been transferred from a neighboring county “for safekeeping” after the Mississippi Supreme Court stayed his execution. Convicted of murdering a white night watchman at a local lumber plant, Echols narrowly avoided the gallows when another black convict confessed to the crime. Less than forty-eight hours later, Echols’s bullet-riddled corpse hung from a pole alongside a rural highway. Before pumping dozens of rounds into their victim, the mob reportedly shouted, “To Hell with the Supreme Court,” and forced Echols to kiss a Confederate battle flag….
(keep reading) http://tah.oah.org/november-2015/the-cause-was-never-lost/