Lynching of Jesse Washington

Jesse Washington was an African-American farmhand who was lynched in Waco, Texas, on May 15, 1916. Washington was convicted of raping and murdering Lucy Fryer, the wife of his white employer. Members of the mob cut off his fingers, and hung him over a bonfire after saturating him with coal oil. In May 2016, the mayor of Waco held a formal ceremony to apologize to Washington’s descendants and the African- American community.

About Lynching of Jesse Washington in brief

Summary Lynching of Jesse WashingtonJesse Washington was an African-American farmhand who was lynched in Waco, Texas, on May 15, 1916. Washington was convicted of raping and murdering Lucy Fryer, the wife of his white employer in rural Robinson, Texas. He was chained by his neck and dragged out of the county court by observers. Members of the mob cut off his fingers, and hung him over a bonfire after saturating him with coal oil. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of lynchings occurred in the Southern United States, primarily of African Americans in the states of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas. Between 1890 and 1920, about 3,000 African Americans were killed by lynch mobs in cases where they were alleged perpetrators of crimes. In May 2016, the mayor of Waco held a formal ceremony to apologize to Washington’s descendants and the African- American community. A historical marker has been installed to memorialize the lynching. In the 1990s and 2000s, some Waco residents lobbied for a monument to Washington’s lynching, but this idea failed to garner wide support in the city. It was found that several factors led to an increase in local racism, including the screening of The Birth of a Nation, a movie that glorified the Ku Klux Klan, and the sale of photographs of a recently lynched black man in Temple, Oklahoma. In 1916, Waco was a prosperous city with a population of more than 30,000.

After it became associated with crime in the 19th century, community leaders sought to change its reputation, sending delegations across the U.S. to promote it as an idyllic locale. By the 1910s, the city had gained a pious reputation. A black middle class had emerged in the area, along with two black colleges. By the mid-1910s, blacks comprised about twenty percent of the Waco population. In 1905, a black man, a Sankor Majors, was a lynched and hanged from a bridge near downtown Waco in the Texas city. A small number of anti-lynching activists lived in the local area in the late 1900s and early 2000s. It is estimated that about 20,000 people were lynched between 1910 and 1920 in the United States. The number of lynching victims has risen from about 10,000 to more than 15,000 in the last few years of the 20th century. The death of Washington helped alter the way lynching was viewed. The widespread negative publicity helped curb public support for the practice. It also provided a sense of white solidarity in a culture with changing demographics and power structures. It led to the rise of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the NAACP featured Washington’s death in their anti- lynching campaign. The NAACP co-founder and editor W. B. Du Bois published an in-depth report featuring photographs of Washington’s charred body in The Crisis.