Lesson Plan 11 | Party of White Supremacy (1877-1922)


In response to the Hayes-Tilden Controversy, the Democratic-governed U.S. House endorsed The Great Compromise of 1877 that ended Reconstruction.  The compromise was an attempt by Republicans to end the presidential stalemate, as well as to get the Democrats to stop lynching. Democrats would not oppose Hayes if Republicans agreed to provide investment capital to the South and to let the South govern itself. Democrats promised to protect the rights of blacks, but Redeemer governments returned the planter class to power and civil rights were out. These southern Redeemer governments re-established white supremacy and opposed any possible form of racial equality. These white-only Redeemer governments were composed mostly of ex-Confederate officials and replaced the bi-racial Republican governments voted in during Reconstruction. Now, with Redeemer governments firmly in place throughout the South, not one single piece of civil rights legislation would be passed until 1954.

During Reconstruction, Democrats used various forms of intimidation to disrupt the viable black towns established in the South. Blacks began to make political and economic inroads by registering to vote, established businesses and ran for public office. The Democratic South felt threatened and started a reign of terror that included lynching to disrupt the progress of blacks. The Democrats are the party of white supremacy, and supported by primary sources such as Party Platforms, Jim Crow Laws, Supreme Court rulings, racist propaganda, and race riots that suppressed blacks.

In this lesson plan, we will examine the history of the Democratic party after Reconstruction.


How Democratic Redeemer governments suppressed black votes (1877)
Examine Jim Crow Laws in the South
Democrats repress blacks in South with attacks and riots in 19th to 20th Centuries
Democrats segregate public transportation (1881)
Mississippi Plan, Constitution with literacy tests for voting (1890)
Democrats repeal Civil Rights Laws (1892)
Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896)
Forced labor camps (1900)
The Klansman, by Thomas Dixon, Jr. (1904)
“Red Line” boundaries created (1910)
Democratic President Woodrow Wilson segregates government workplaces (1913)
President Wilson showed the racist movie, Birth of a Nation in White House (1915)
Black Wall Street destroyed (1921)
Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill (1922)

Time: Designed for four to five class periods.


Democratic and Republican Platforms http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/platforms.php
Lynching newspaper articles:  http://archive.tuskegee.edu/archive/bitstream/handle/123456789/512/Lynching%20Records.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Lynching records by state.
Political Cartoons
PDF of Jim Crow laws https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/pdfs-docs/origins/jimcrowlaws.pdf
Jim Crow Dance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5FpKAxQNKU&feature=plcp
Jim Crow Museum and Video https://ferris.edu/jimcrow/#
Photos & newspaper articles
Original 1890 Mississippi Constitution
Plessy vs. Ferguson, 1896, documents

Background Information:

The 1860 Census reported 225,849 blacks lived in the Northern states, and 3,953,760 slaves lived in the Southern states with 487,970 as free blacks - for a total of 4,441,730 blacks. Total population in the United States in 1860 was 31,443,790. Most of the South was Democratic, and the Republicans were the party that helped the slaves gain freedom. Therefore, most blacks became Republicans.   https://www.2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1860a-02pdf

This fact, concerning the number of the black population in 1860, is a significant reason why the Democrats needed to suppress the black vote after the Civil War and during Reconstruction.  The Reconstruction Amendments: the 13th Amendment gave freedom to the slaves; the 14th Amendment gave them citizenship; the 15th Amendment gave the slaves the right to vote; these Amendments helped to establish bi-racial Republican governments in the South. The Democrats had to use propaganda, disenfranchise blacks, intimidated blacks, lynched black and white Republicans, passed Jim Crow Laws, massacred blacks throughout the South, and destroyed their communities to return “white supremacy” to the South.

Democrats and Republicans in Their Own Words:

Primary sources are invaluable when researching the historical truth.  Regardless, one must do due diligence, and cross-reference many sources to discover the history of political parties. One of the best primary sources for comparing party differences is the 124-year history of major civil rights efforts based on a side-by-side comparison of early party platforms of the two major political parties.

A party platform is a document produced every four years that sets forth the party’s beliefs, values, and political positions. In 1876, 1880, 1884, 1888, 1892, 1896, 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920, the distinction between the Democrats and Republicans, in their own words, chronicles events and issues that each party believed about civil rights.  Democrats regained control of the South after Reconstruction, initiated poll taxes and Jim Crow Laws, while Republicans wanted the complete protection of all citizens. The Republicans desired a reconstructed union of states with freedom rather than slavery as the cornerstone of the country, and a reaffirmation of the national constitution. By 1892, Democrats continued to suppress black voting and Republicans demanded that every citizen should be able to cast one free vote.

By 1904, the Democratic Platform stated that the race question was solved, but Republicans became aggressive in its opposition to disenfranchisement in the South. Republicans said in their platform that for fifty years they had been the friend of blacks, again, pushed Congress to pass an anti-lynching bill. The civil rights fight would continue into the next century. Democratic platforms never did condemn lynching.

Democratic Platform 1876 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29581)
Republican Platform 1876 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.phppid=29624)

Democratic Platform 1880 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29582)
Republican Platform 1880 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29625)

Democratic Platform 1884 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29583)
Republican Platform 1884 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29626)

Democratic Platform 1888 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29584)
Republican Platform 1888 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29627)

Democratic Platform 1892 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29585)
Republican Platform 1892 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29628)

Democratic Platform 1896 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29586)
Republican Platform 1896 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29629)

Democratic Platform 1900 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29587)
Republican Platform 1900 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29630)

Democratic Platform 1904 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29588)
Republican Platform 1904 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29631)

Democratic Platform 1908 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29589)
Republican Platform 1908 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29632)

Democratic Platform 1912 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29590)
Republican Platform 1912 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29633)

Democratic Platform 1920 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29592)
Republican Platform 1920  (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29635)

Tuskegee Lynching Records:

Of all the violent forms of intimidation that the Democrats used, lynchings were the most efficient in terrorizing black and white Republicans. Tuskegee Institute documented lynchings from 1882-1964 by year and by state. During that time, 4743 individuals were lynched – 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites. Republicans led the efforts to pass federal anti-lynching laws, only, to have the Democrats block every proposed anti-lynching bill. (Tuskegee Lynching records

Tuskegee Institute documented lynchings from 1882-1964 by year and by state. During that time, 4743 individuals were lynched – 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites.
Historical revisionists would have you believe that lynchings, by the KKK and other paramilitary groups, were only against blacks. In the above chart and link provided by Tuskegee Institute, there is clear evidence of the numbers of whites and blacks lynched between 1882 to 1967. In twenty-two states in the north and west, more whites than blacks were lynched. Overwhelming numbers of blacks in southern states like Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Kentucky were lynched. The purpose was to get rid of black and white Republicans and return the South to "white supremacy."

Mob rule and false accusations against blacks for “nameless crimes” created barbaric lynchings attended by families.

Newspaper articles about the crime of lynching, including from the black newspaper, The Chicago Defender, founder/publisher Robert S. Abbott.

                                                     Image result for robert s. abbott
                                                    Robert S. Abbott, The Chicago Defender.

 Overwhelming numbers of blacks in southern states like Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Kentucky were lynched. The purpose was to get rid of black and white Republicans and return the South to "white supremacy."
KKK Members Ride Horses (Photo Credit: AP)

The lynching problem / Dalrymple, 1899. (Courtesy: Library of Congress)

Image result for ida b wells photos
Ida B. Wells (Credit: Chicago Tribune)

Ida B. Wells (1862 – 1931)– Activist and Pioneering Journalist 

Ida B. Wells was one of the most vocal anti-lynching advocates in the United States.

Wells was born into slavery to James and Lizzie Wells in 1862. After the Wells family were decreed free, thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation, her parents became active in the Republican party during Reconstruction. Ida’s father helped start Shaw University, later known as Rust College. Ida received her early schooling at Shaw University until the age of sixteen when she became the primary caregiver for her five siblings when both parents succumbed to yellow fever.

Ida became a civil rights activist in 1884 after she bought a first-class train ticket to Nashville on the ladies’ car and was forcibly ordered to move to a car for blacks. Ida sued the railroad and won a $500 settlement in the circuit court, but the Tennessee Supreme Court later overturned the decision. Her activist stand on refusing to ride in a separate car for blacks would supersede the efforts of Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks in the 20th century.

After witnessing the lynching of three grocery store owners, Wells researched other lynchings and wrote about them, demanded an end to the lynchings of white and black Republicans, and identified lynching as a crime. Also, she wrote about other injustices in the South that concerned race and politics at the beginning of segregation in Tennessee.  By 1898, Wells brought her anti-lynching campaign to the White House asking that President William McKinley make reforms and she lead a protest in Washington D.C. Later, she would ask President Woodrow Wilson to end discriminatory hiring practices for government jobs.

Anti-lynching would become a significant commitment for the NAACP, black women's clubs, and other civil rights organizations.

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, Ida B. Wells, 1892
The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States, Ida B. Wells, 1893

Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Flight to Death, the Story of his Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, and Other Lynching Statistics, Ida B. Wells, 1894

Guiding Questions:

  • How do you think the millions of emancipated blacks affected the South?
  • Why do you think the South took measures to return white-supremacy to their states? What were their tactics?
  • What did you learn about the differences in political positions between the Democrats and Republicans through their party platforms? What were the differences in beliefs and values for blacks?
  • How do you explain mob rule and lynching?
  • What do you think was meant when the newspaper article described the horrible lynchings as enabled while the “conscience of America sleeps?”
  • What significant contributions did Ida B. Wells make concerning the injustices in the South?

Jim Crow Laws in the South:

The name “Jim Crow” comes from a white minstrel routine performed around 1830 by Thomas Dartmouth Rice as “Daddy” Jim Crow.  Rice blackened his face and danced a jig while singing the song, “Jump Jim Crow.” The song inspired by Jim Crow, a physically disabled black slave, became a sensational hit and mockery genre in 19th Century America.  Eventually, Rice’s fame and the term Jim Crow became a derogatory meaning for blacks, and soon to become the name for racial segregation laws in the South. These laws would be enforced from the end of Reconstruction in 1877 until the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s.  (Jim Crow Dance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5FpKAxQNKU&feature=plcp)

Thomas Dartmouth Rice as Jim Crow

Redeemer southern Democratic governments eventually marginalized the freedmen, passed laws to separate whites from blacks in public transportation, schools, restaurants, parks, housing, marriage, hospital entrances, prisons, libraries, and militia. These segregation principles were to prevent any contacts between blacks and whites as equals. The 7 to 1 “separate but equal” decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) upheld the Jim Crow Laws until the U.S. Supreme Court reveresed it in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in (1954). It declared that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, and separation in other venues was as well.

These PDF documents contain restricting Jim Crow Laws by each state. (https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/pdfs-docs/origins/jimcrowlaws.pdf)
(Note: Racial stereotypes are not symptomatic of one race, but  found this Jim Crow Museum of interest. Video narrated by Dr. David Pilgrim of Ferris State University. https://ferris.edu/jimcrow/#)

Thomas Edison's short film: Watermelon Eating Contest also disparages blacks:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu2-4a_QXlE

Comparison of Jim Crow laws in the South http://classroomhelp.com/till/jimcrowlaws/jimcrowalabama.html

Mississippi Plan:

The Mississippi Plan was developed to avoid adhering to the 14th and 15th Amendments without attracting federal intercession. The Democratic plan suppressed black voting to overthrow the Republican Party in Mississippi through organized threats of violence, literacy tests, poll taxes, residency length requirement and purchased black votes. The Democrats were successful in their efforts, and other states; South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia adopted similar plans to disenfranchise and terrorize blacks to regain control of their state governments.

By 1890, Mississippi adopted a new state constitution which effectively formalized the exclusion of blacks from politics and disenfranchised them and disarmed blacks by obstructing firearm ownership.  Finally, most black people stopped trying to register or vote. Blacks would be victims of voter suppression until legislation passed in the late 1960s.

Examining Primary Sources:

Document A: “Of Course He Wants to Vote the Democratic Ticket”

Document B: “Everything Points to a Democratic Victory This Fall”

Guiding Questions:
  • How did the name “Jim Crow” become the namesake for Jim Crow Laws?
  • What is your opinion of this minstrel portrayal of “Jump Jim Crow?”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5FpKAxQNKU&feature=plcp
  • What did the southern Democratic governments hope to accomplish with Jim Crow Laws?
  • Review the PDF on Jim Crow Laws. How many aspects of society were affected by these laws?  https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/pdfs-docs/origins/jimcrowlaws.pdf
  • Watch the short Thomas Edison film, Watermelon Eating Contest. Do you think this is a racist film? Why or why not?
  • What did the Mississippi Plan accomplish with voter suppression?
  • What clues can you see in Document A, that communicates the stories of voter suppression and violence?
  • What paramilitary group is in Document B?

Plessy v. Ferguson:

One of the most infamous decisions that the Supreme Court made was Plessy v. Ferguson. In a 7 to 1 Decision for Ferguson, the 1896 case upheld state-imposed racial segregation. The court was made up of four Democrats and five Republicans – Justice David Brewer did not hear or participate in the argument because of the untimely death of his daughter. The question facing the court was the Louisiana law mandating racial segregation on its trains and its unconstitutional infringement on both the privileges and immunities clauses of the 14th Amendment.

Homer Plessy was seven-eighths Caucasian and took a seat in the “whites only” car of a Louisiana train. When he refused to move to a “colored car,” he was arrested. He sued and in the original trial, Judge Ferguson ruled against him. Eventually, Plessy appealed to the Supreme Court and the court decision 7 to 1 ruled against him with their separate-but-equal doctrine that separate facilities satisfied the 14th Amendment if they were equal. This ruling legitimized separate public accommodations in “Jim Crow Laws" and later overturned with the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.

In Justice Brown’s majority opinion, he stated that “in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races unsatisfactory to either.” In short, segregation does not in itself constitute unlawful discrimination. Only Justice John Marshall Harlan, a former slaveholder from Kentucky, agreed that the challenged "Jim Crow" statute violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of laws.

Justice John M. Harlan (dissent):

Justice Henry B. Brown (majority): https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/163/537#writing-USSC_CR_0163_0537_ZO

Examining Primary Sources:

Document C: “Separate but Equal” 1904 Caricature of “white” and “Jim Crow” rail cars by John T. McCutcheon. Despite Jim Crow’s legal pretense under the law, non-whites had inferior facilities and treatment.

Document D: In this cartoon, a black man is ordered to leave a railway car reserved for whites and go to the “colored” car.

Negro expulsion from a railway car in Philadelphia

Guiding Questions:
  • How did the Plessy v. Ferguson decision strengthen Jim Crow Laws?
  • What did Plessy v. Ferguson help states do concerning other public and private institutions?
  • What does the caricature of rail cars tell us in Document C?
  • Explain the illustration “Negro Expulsion from Railway Car” in Document D.

Forced Labor Camps, 1900s:

Because of the history of slavery, the southern Democratic states used a violent and abusive system known as convict leasing. Black Codes allowed black men and children to be arrested and convicted for petty crimes such as vagrancy - the crime of being unemployed. The unaffordable hefty-fine was more than blacks could afford so they were put in forced labor camps. Industrialists purchased convicts from the state and paid an average of $25,000 to build state roads, work on railroads, coal mines, turpentine factories, and lumber camps.  The convict lease program generated revenue for the state and reduced state expenses for incarceration of these convicts. As many as 200,000 black Americans were forced into these labor camps and died by the thousands.

This horrifying, little-known story used blacks in brutal bondage up until WWII.  Every southern state leased convicts and at least nine-tenths of them were black. After the southern states abolished convict leasing, chain gangs were established in Georgia and quickly spread throughout the South. These were also eliminated by the 1950s.

This horrifying, little-known story used blacks in brutal bondage up until WWII.  Every southern state leased convicts and at least nine-tenths of them were black.
Black Men and Boys in a Prisoner Stockade 

This horrifying, little-known story used blacks in brutal bondage up until WWII.  Every southern state leased convicts and at least nine-tenths of them were black.
Convicts Working Along Railroad Tracks

This horrifying, little-known story used blacks in brutal bondage up until WWII.  Every southern state leased convicts and at least nine-tenths of them were black.
Prisoners Assigned to Harvest Timber

1900 World’s Fair in Paris, “The Exhibit of American Negroes”
“At the turn of the 20th century, African- American lawyer Thomas Calloway had an idea for an exhibit for the upcoming 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. Writing to over one hundred prominent black Americans, Calloway laid out his vision for a multimedia presentation which would paint a picture of African-American society nearly four decades after the end of slavery.
His proposal was heard by Booker T. Washington, who brought it to President William McKinley. With just four months to go before the start of the World’s Fair, Calloway was given Congressional approval and $15,000 to execute the exhibit.

To help find, curate and assemble the right content for the exhibit, Calloway recruited Assistant to the Librarian of Congress Daniel Murray and his former Fisk University classmate and prominent intellectual activist W.E.B. DuBois.

DuBois selected his photographs not as an objective cross-section of black Americans, but as a rebuttal to prevailing representations of black people as inherently inferior or primitive…most African-Americans were still poor agricultural laborers; the photos prominently feature affluent, educated black people with a range of hairstyles and sartorial choices.

Today, this emphasis on appearance and dress would be considered problematic, a form of “respectability politic,” the conditional linking of inalienable rights like equality and fair treatment to an individual’s fashion, manners, and embracement of dominant values.

At the time, however, such images of nattily dressed black people were relatively rare, and one of Calloway’s and DuBois’ objectives with the hastily assembled exhibit was to convince an elite audience of the worth and accomplishments of black American, even if that meant engaging in respectability politics.

In April 1900, “The Exhibit of American Negroes” opened in the Palace of Social Economy at the World’s Fair. During its eight-month run, it was visited by over 50 million people.” https://mashable.com/2016/02/02/the-exhibit-of-american-negroes/#oMPOtT3z6Pqh

The executive board of the Women's League of Newport, Rhode Island
The executive board of the Women's League of Newport, Rhode Island.

A graduating class of law students at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
A graduating class of law students at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Students at Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee.


A Georgia family

Students cut and fit clothing in class at the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Summit Avenue Ensemble (from left, Clarence and Norman Askew, Arthur Askew, Jake Sansome, Robert and Walter Askew) pose at the home studio of Thomas Askew in Atlanta, Georgia.

E.J. Crane stands in the door of his watchmaking and jewelry store in Richmond, Virginia.

Guiding Questions:

  • What is "respectability politic?" Would you say this is objective or subjective in its focus?
  • Compare the images of life in convict forced labor, and the photos of “The Exhibit of American Negroes.”
  • What was the purpose of the “The Exhibit of American Negroes?”
  • Which images do you think represent what blacks dealt with in the early 20th Century?

Booker T. Washington Dines at White House:

In 1901, Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, after an afternoon meeting at the White House with Booker T. Washington, informally invited him to dine at White House. Washington was the first black to dine at the White House with the president.  A furor arose over the social implications of Roosevelt’s casual act, sparking protests by Democrats across the country.  Roosevelt’s invitation caused a firestorm with southern Democrats where Jim Crow laws kept blacks segregated. A southern newspaper exclaimed, “the most damnable outrage which has ever been perpetrated by a citizen of the United States was committed yesterday by the President.” President Roosevelt respected Washington and thought of him as an adviser, a man of high integrity, and a man of education. Theodore Roosevelt defended his decision.

President Teddy Roosevelt’s Approach Toward the South Changes:

President Theodore Roosevelt was considered “the greatest benefactor we people have ever known since Lincoln,” wrote Owen Wister’s dedication to Roosevelt in The Virginian. 

At the 1904 Republican National Convention, “the Republicans condemned the Democrats for the crimes against southern blacks and denounced a trend toward socialism within the Democratic Party.” However, in 1904 during his second term, “President Roosevelt’s approach toward the South underwent a major change. In a bid for southern white support, no longer would he side with the oppressed blacks. While touring the South in 1905, he praised the valor of surviving Confederate veteran and pointed out that many of his relatives had fought with them against the United States Government. In 1906, the President ordered the dishonorable discharge of 167 black soldiers in Brownsville, Texas on suspicion, but no proof, that several of them may have committed crimes. Southern whites cheered, but blacks throughout the county resented him for his rave injustice.” (Back to Basics for the Republican Party, by Michael Zak)

Brownsville affair was an incident of racial injustice that occurred due to the resentment of white residents against the black segregated unit stationed at nearby Fort Brown. The black unit was accused of shooting up the town indiscriminately, and killing a white bartender and wounding a white police officer. The white commanders at Fort Brown said that all the soldiers were in the barracks at the time of the shootings, but the white townspeople produced planted evidence of spent shells. Roosevelt ordered the dishonorable discharge of 167 soldiers. After more investigation, some of the soldiers were allowed to re-enlist.

This incident was an embarrassment to the army. Another investigation argued that the discharge soldiers had been innocent, and in 1972, the order of 1906 was reversed.

Soldiers accused of crimes in Brownsville, TX. President Teddy Roosevelt dishonorable discharges for all 167, in 1906.

Guiding Questions:
  • What do you think the reasons were for the difference in how President Roosevelt handled the Booker T. Washington invitation and the Brownsville affair?
  • Why would a politician, like Teddy Roosevelt, change his allegiance to those he previously supported?
  • What does this incident tell you about the belief in the word of a black man as opposed to the white townspeople?

The Resurgence of White Supremacy:

The Clansman by Thomas Dixon, Jr., was published in 1904. Dixon’s bestselling novel was the basis for the filmmaker D.W. Griffith’s three-hour dramatization, Birth of a Nation, about the Civil War and Reconstruction. The movie depicted the Ku Klux Klan members as heroes and martyrs. Dixon was an unapologetic racist, a fellow southerner, a longtime supporter, and an old college buddy, of President Woodrow Wilson at John Hopkins University. The book and the movie had a notable influence on the expansion of KKK membership after WWI.

There were three Ku Klux Klan movements, which were separate in time, organization, and purpose. The first KKK operated during Reconstruction, and its purpose was to control newly freed blacks from social and economic freedoms and to terrorize white Republicans who supported them. This terrorist group was dedicated to defeating the Republican party in the South and kept blacks in their place. The second KKK group, encouraged by Thomas Dixon’s book The Clansman and by D.W. Griffith’s movie Birth of a Nation, was inspired by super-patriotism after WWI, its membership swelled to three million, and lasted until 1944. The third KKK was primarily southern and an urban-based organization that grew out of the fear of communism and continued through the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

The Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith. The overtly-racist movie, The Birth of a Nation was a revolutionary form of entertainment – the feature film. The white actors, in blackface, depicted blacks as sexual predators after white women, as heathens and a threat to American values. The KKK were the heroes protecting these white women from black assault.  On February 18, 1915, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson screened this movie at the White House for his daughter and other guests in the East Room. Wilson almost single-handedly brought about the resurgence of the KKK in America by screening this film in the White House.

Still from the film Birth of a Nation quoting President Woodrow Wilson

The racist movie, Birth of a Nation used white actors in blackface

Redline Boundaries Segregated Neighborhoods in Baltimore, MD, 1910:

Redlining was a systematic denial for services, businesses and residential segregation based on race. Baltimore, MD represented and typified bigotry and residential segregation more than any other city in the United States in 1910. Neighborhood zoning and other government actions segregated blacks.  Eugenics, racial thinking, white supremacy, and attitudes doomed other American cities to ghettoization. 

In 1910, in one of the best neighborhoods in Baltimore, Margaret G. Franklin Brewer sold her home, a rowhouse, on 1834 McCulloh Street to W. Ashbie Hawkins (a black man).  Three weeks later The Sun printed the news that Hawkins was black. Hawkins then rents the rowhouse to his law partner George W.F. McMechan, a Yale University School graduate. The city government reacted by creating an ordinance adopting residential segregation, and cities like: Richmond, VA; Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA followed suit.

Baltimore became the first city to enact the first law in American history that prohibited blacks from moving into white residential neighborhoods. Democratic mayor, J. Barry Mahool, said, “Blacks should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incident of civil disturbance to prevent the spread of communicable disease to the white neighborhoods, and to protect property values of the white majority.”

Democratic President Woodrow Wilson Segregates Government, 1913:

President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, was a racist. Before his presidential run for office, he wrote, A History of the American People, published 1902, and said, "The white men of the South were aroused by the mere instinct of self-preservation to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant negroes and conducted in the interest of adventurers."

In Woodrow Wilson's 1912 campaign, he promised to protect blacks if they elected him to the presidency, so, many blacks left the Republican Party and voted for Wilson. He said, "Should I become President of the United States, negroes may count upon me for absolute fair dealing and for everything by which I could assist in advancing the interests of their race in the United States." The same year, W.E.B. DuBois endorsed the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, and asked for: support for black education; the blacks’ right to vote and own land; and to stop the onslaught of lynchings. Shortly after being elected, Wilson ignored DuBois’ requests.

Less than one month after the inauguration, President Wilson took steps to segregate the federal service workplaces, restrooms, lunchrooms across the nation – reversing 50 years of previous integration. When asked about his actions, he said, "I made no promises in particular to Negroes, except to do them justice." Within a brief time, he had separated blacks and whites from working together and demoted or fired many blacks from the federal government. In addition, President Wilson did nothing to stop his fellow Democrats from lynching hundreds of southern blacks.

"It is untenable, in view of the established facts, to maintain that the segregation is simply to avoid race friction, for the simple reason that for fifty years white and colored clerks have been working together in peace and harmony and friendliness, doing so even throughout two Democratic administrations. Soon after your inauguration began, segregation was drastically introduced in the Treasury and Postal departments by your appointees." Monroe Trotter to Wilson, imploring him to stop rampant segregation in his Administration

Also, during President Wilson’s administration, there were dozens of lynchings of southern blacks by Democrats.

President Woodrow Wilson - Under his tenure as President, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House passed a bill making it a felony for any black to marry a white in Washington, D.C.

Guiding Questions:
  • What stereotypical attacks continued against blacks within The Clansman and Birth of a Nation?
  • Why would President Woodrow Wilson show the racist movie, Birth of a Nation, at the White House? What evidence do you have to support your opinion?
  • How effective was "redlining" in Baltimore, Maryland?
  • Why did various cities in the United States wish to use “redlining” to control neighborhoods?
  • Compare Wilson's quote before he was elected and the quote after his inauguration about promises to blacks. Why do you think President Wilson changed his mind? Was he using blacks to get votes?
  • Do you think that Woodrow Wilson was a racist? Why?

Massacres by Democrats Against Black and White Republicans:

The Democratic party was not satisfied to create a reign of terror with paramilitary groups such as the KKK. They carried out numerous massacres throughout the South, and within border states, to drive blacks out of these areas, halt the influence of blacks, and to restore white supremacy.

Large-scale racial violence increased intensely by the middle of the 19th century and continued into the 20th century with the Memphis Massacre 1866, where white civilians and police killed 46 blacks, burned 90 houses, 12 schools, and 4 churches; Opelousas Massacre 1868, Louisiana estimated 200 – 300 black Republicans killed by Democrats when they attacked a newspaper editor; Coushatta Massacre 1874 in Louisiana was an effort to overthrow Radical Reconstruction, the White League killed ten Republicans (four blacks and six whites); Race Riot in Wilmington, NC 1898, estimates of 200 dead and based on editorial sensitive issue of interracial sexual relations, campaign theme “save our white women” https://www.ncpedia.org/wilmington-race-riot; the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot was caused by white mobs who killed dozens of blacks and destroyed the property of a growing working class of blacks. Whites feared social intermingling of the races and therefore expanded Jim Crow laws while fueling the fear of alleged assaults by black men upon white women. Mob violence erupted. https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/atlanta-race-riot-1906. The “Red Summer” 1919, when racial conflict reached an apex in twenty-six race riots between the months of April and October in South Carolina, Texas, D.C., Chicago, Arkansas. The “Red Summer” 1919 riot in Charleston, South Carolina, where one half of the population was black, resulted in three blacks killed, eighteen injured, black businesses robbed and vandalized and five whites injured.

Some of the worse massacres were Black Wall Street in 1921 at Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Rosewood Massacre in Rosewood, Florida in 1922, not only was there a great loss of life, but most of the black businesses and homes were destroyed.

The Massacre of Black Wall Street, Tulsa Oklahoma: (May 31 to June 1, 1921)

On September 17, 1907, Oklahomans voted to approve their constitution and then elected an economically populist but racist First Legislature. The Legislature was careful not to organize Jim Crow laws because of the disapproval of President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt proclaimed statehood on November 16, 1907. 

From December 2, 1907, to May 26, 1908, lawmakers made segregation the first order of business for the state legislature. Senate Bill 1 went through the overwhelmingly Democratic body. The law required separate facilities for blacks in public transportation, public education, other public places, no marrying outside of their race, and turned Oklahoma into a white-dominated state. After the economic depression of 1907, Democrats formed a coalition of progressive reformers, poor farmers, poor workers and the unemployed to de-power blacks. 

Blacks and others were attracted to the area by the discovery of oil. Soon other industries benefited from this oil wealth, and blacks embraced the concept of the 'promised land' as they were anxious to develop a community of their own and create their own opportunities. 

O.W. Gurley, an entrepreneur, and landowner bought 40 acres to be sold to “blacks only.” Gurley was acknowledged as the founder of the community, but J.B. Stradford also bought up large tracks of undeveloped land northeast of the tracks that he sold to blacks only as well. This black neighborhood became known as Deep Greenwood ("Black Wall Street") and was the 'promised land.' White racism, with Jim Crow laws, was an important impetus for the growth of the Black Business District. Blacks could work in white areas, but their money was not welcomed by white businesses, so the black community had to create their own businesses to spend their money.

At first, black residents began making good money as day laborers, domestics, bootblacks, and restaurant cooks for the white nouveau riche, but soon black professional occupations were represented. Blacks began to buy land on Greenwood Avenue, and the road evolved into the center of 'Black Wall Street.' Restaurants, furriers, jewelry stores, hotels, theater, churches, black newspapers (Tulsa Guide) (Weekly Planet) (The Tulsa Star), grocery store, funeral parlors, dance halls, barber shops, medical and dental offices, schools, libraries, black hospital, two garages/filling stations, insurance companies, loan companies, contractors, dressmakers, shoemakers, tailors, printers, photographers, physicians, surgeons, hotel, airline charter service, and nightclubs created a influential progressive neighborhood. G.A. Gregg remembered that; "The Tulsa colored people in every sense of the word were building a modern, up-to-date business city." It was the most successful black community in America and became more prosperous than its white counterpart across the tracks. In isolation, Deep Greenwood only thrived more.

Post-World War I northeastern Oklahoma had a racially and politically tense history. The territory had many settlers from the South who were slaveholders before the Civil War. White supremacy was maintained with lynchings and other violent acts that kept blacks in their place. Black veterans who returned to Tulsa after WWI believed that they had earned full citizenship after they were asked to fight to defend U.S. freedom abroad. The American Negro had changed – blacks wanted equal rights and social equality.

The massacre of Black Wall Street is not mentioned in most American history textbooks today, so many people do not know that this happened or who the predators were that caused these atrocities in this wealthy black neighborhood. The events on May 31 and June 1, 1921, are documented here. In total, there were more than 191 businesses, 1,256 homes destroyed, and 10,000 blacks left homeless, and at least 330 dead in Deep Greenwood, Oklahoma after the massacre.

On May 30, 1921, Sarah Page, a white 17-year-old divorcee went to the police to file charges that a black man, Dick Roland, attempted to “criminally assault her” in an elevator in the Drexel Building. One story given said that Roland had accidentally stepped on her foot, she slapped him, he grabbed her arm to prevent her from hitting him again and then fled.  The next day Rowland was arrested and jailed. The Tulsa Tribune reported that a white girl had been assaulted by a black man. Threats to lynch Dick Rowland were made, and he was moved to another location. Dick Rowland was an ordinary bootblack with no standing in the community, but when threats were made, the 15,000 in Deep Greenwood were willing to come to his defense. Whites and blacks were motivated by false rumors, a struggle ensued, shots rang out, and twelve men were shot dead -ten whites, and two blacks.

By June 1, fighting increased, and whites who entered Deep Greenwood systematically burned buildings; ransacked and pillaged homes; took valuables from homes and then burned them. Planes were used as reconnaissance but also dropped turpentine balls on the buildings and shot at blacks from the air. The fire soon engulfed the entire black district.

Oklahoma lawyer, Buck Colbert Franklin (1869-1960) wrote, “I could see planes circling in mid-air. They grew in number and hummed, darted and dipped low. I could hear something like hail falling upon the top of my office building. Down East Archer, I saw the Midway Hotel on fire, burning from its top, and then another and another and another began to burn from their top…luried flames roared and belched and licked their forked tongues into the air. Smoke ascended the sky in thick, black volumes and amid it all, the planes – now a dozen or more in number – still hummed and darted here and there with the agility of natural birds of the air.” 

Deep Greenwood burned all day Wednesday and continued to smolder into Thursday afternoon – at the end of the attack, Black Wall Street, the most affluent all-black community in America, was destroyed. Thirty-five city blocks were set on fire, 300 people were killed, most black businesses were gone, twenty-one churches, hospital, post office, schools, and library were destroyed. 

This “shadow of shame” in Deep Greenwood, Oklahoma was not a race riot but was compared to European pogroms, which wreaked havoc and violently demolished Jewish neighborhoods beginning in Russia in 1821. The criminal assault accusations of Sarah Page against Dick Rowland were just an excuse for whites to attack the “uppity blacks” in Deep Greenwood. Sarah later dropped charges against Dick Rowland, and it seems that they knew each other better than Sarah first admitted. She expressed remorse for her false accusation and the massacre that followed in Deep Greenwood. There were 88 indictments served against black and whites alike, but all were either dismissed or ignored. Not one white was sent to jail for the burning of Black Wall Street – most of the blame for the massacre was placed on blacks. Only Chief Gustafson was convicted, fined and fired for failure to take appropriate action in his handling of the massacre.

Because of the Greenwood massacre, the KKK became more dominate in Tulsa, and supporters were elected and reelected throughout the 1920s. There was an auxiliary KKK for women, “Kamella,” and a junior clan for boys 12 – 18 years of age. In the months and years after 1921, postcards were sold in Tulsa’s downtown streets to raise money for the KKK. The residents of Deep Greenwood did not freely speak of these atrocities until late in the 20th century.

Examining Primary Resources:
The Black Wall Street massacre in Greenwood, Oklahoma on May 31 – June 1, 1921, was an excuse to rid blacks from the wealthiest black neighborhood in the country. A false accusation of assault against a white woman by a black man was the beginning of one of the bloodiest and most horrendous massacres in U.S. history. We will examine photos of the Greenwood business district, wealthy neighborhoods before and after the destruction of Black Wall Street, as well as compare newspaper stories from different publishers to discover what happened in Greenwood.

Primary resources such as newspapers need to be carefully examined for biases and objective reporting. 

Black Leaders in Deep Greenwood, Oklahoma:

Contrary to false reporting, blacks in Deep Greenwood, Oklahoma were a diverse, successful group of entrepreneurs, laborers, and citizens that built the most affluent black community in the United States by 1921.  Known as “Black Wall Street” or “Little Africa,” here are some of the leaders represented during that time.

John, Loula, and Bill Williams in 1911 luxury touring Norwalk automobile. John and Loula Williams launched multiple ventures: a theatre; a confectionery; a rooming house; and a garage.

O. W. Gurley - O.W. Gurley, an entrepreneur, and landowner bought 40 acres to be sold to “blacks only” to develop the area of Deep Greenwood. He became one of the wealthiest blacks in Deep Greenwood with a net worth of $150,000. Gurley would later blame "belligerent negroes" for the 'race riot.'

O. W. Gurley quoted in the newspaper about belligerent blacks starting the massacre

Mann Brothers Grocery Store (O. B. Mann, six-feet-four, on the left) O. B. Mann was a very successful entrepreneur that returned after WWI with an inflated idea of equality for blacks. It was Mann's gun that accidentally discharged when a white man grabbed it that started the massacre and destruction of Deep Greenwood.

Buck Colbert Franklin – Buck Franklin was an attorney in Deep Greenwood, Oklahoma, who is most notably known for defending the survivors of the Greenwood massacre in 1921. He was also father to the civil rights advocate and historian John Hope Franklin.

Tulsa Historical Society and Museum
Just five days after the Tulsa race riot, B.C. Franklin set up a temporary law office in a tent. Pictured are Spears, B.C. Franklin, and P.A. Chappelle. The photo was taken on June 2, 1921. Franklin was known for defending the survivors of the massacre in Deep Greenwood.

Dr. A. C. Jackson - Dr. A.C. Jackson, a physician, christened the ablest Negro surgeon in America by the Mayo brothers, transcended the color line, servicing both white and black patients. Dr. Jackson was considered the most skilled black surgeon in America with a net worth of $100,000.

J.B. Stradford –  John B. Stradford was Deep Greenwood's Republican leader. Stradford was the wealthiest man in Black Wall Street in 1921, was the son of an escaped slave, Julius Caesar Stradford, and J.B. came to Oklahoma in 1899. He was the owner of the most elegant black hotel in the country. This 54-room luxury hotel rivaled white hotels in Tulsa: beautiful chandeliers graced the lobby and banquet room; it contained a pool hall; dining room and a salon. 

Mabel B. Little (Tulsa World, 1990) – Mabel was a survivor of the massacre and owner of a favorite beauty shop that she opened in 1917. In 1921, she and her husband built a new shop, home and rental house, but within two weeks after its completion, the property burned to the ground. The Littles were also instrumental in building Mt. Zion Church which destroyed in the Greenwood massacre in 1921.

Simon Berry owned a nickel-a-ride jitney service, a bus line, a boutique hotel, and a charter plane service in Deep Greenwood.

E.W. Woods, the first principal of the all-black Booker T. Washington High School (1913). Woods set the standard for high expectations for this school.

Guiding Questions:

  • What were the contributions made by these black men and women in Greenwood, Oklahoma?
  • How were these men and women different from other blacks in cities in other states? How was their quality of life different?
  • What luxuries did they possess? Do you think their success threatened whites in Tulsa? Why?
  • What was the racial climate in Tulsa in the 1920s? What group contributed to the racial unrest?

The Beginning of the Massacre in Greenwood
Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in an Elevator: Tulsa Tribune

On May 30, 1921, The Tulsa Tribune printed a front-page story that announced that a "negro would be lynched tonight." According to others, the headline read "Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator." (note: no one knows precisely what was said because surviving copies were destroyed.) Men then marched to the courthouse to protect Dick Rowland from being lynched. (Photo credit: Tulsa Historical Society).

The photo of black prisoners led to convention center. Here is what was reported June 1, 1921 evening edition of The Tulsa Tribune, "a motley procession of negroes winded its way down Main Street to the baseball park with hands held high above their heads, their hats in one hand, a token of their submission to the white man's authority...They will return, not to their homes, but to heaps of ashes, the angry reprisal inflicted on him by the inferior race."

This black man is detained and close to the border of Deep Greenwood and Tulsa. This iconic photo was later made into a statue, Humiliation, for John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in Tulsa, OK.


Whites were deputized, handed weapons, and took black prisoners in private cars.

Thousands of armed whites descended on Deep Greenwood, burning, looting and killing blacks. By the time Police Chief John Gustafson finally asked for National Guard help, Greenwood would be destroyed. A grand jury held Gustafson responsible of dereliction of duty and was removed from office and put on trial. He was found guilty but never served any time in jail.

In the middle of the night, the Tulsa police formally requested that the National Guard assist them in quelling what they called a “Negro uprising.” As they awaited the National Guard, they let Greenwood burn.

A white man guards the body of a black man and other prisoners outside the Tulsa Convention Hall.

National Guard picks up injured.

Guiding Questions:
  • How is the reporting in the article, “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator,” sensationalized?
  • What details can you describe concerning the crowd of blacks marching to the jail to protect Dick Rowland?
  • Describe the photo of the blacks taken to the convention center? How are these two photos different?
  • How can you determine the location of the black man in the photo?
  • Do these men riding in the car with black prisoners look like professional law enforcement? How do you know?
  • Describe the scene outside the convention center. What is happening?
  • Why did it take the Chief of Police, John A. Gustafson so long to call the National Guard?
  • Why was this labeled as a “negro uprising?”
  • Why do you think it necessary for the National Guard to have a machine gun on the back of the truck in the photo?

Businesses Before and After the Greenwood Massacre

The media called this massacre a "negro uprising," but it was a systematic pogrom to get rid of the "uppity blacks" that built the most successful black community in America. At the end of the melee, 300 blacks were dead, most black businesses destroyed, 21 churches, hospital, post office, schools, hundreds of homes, and library were burned. Eyewitness accounts told of airplanes that dropped turpentine balls from the air, and buildings started to burn from the top down.

Deep Greenwood was reduced to smoldering ashes and no longer the ‘promised land’ for blacks.

The Williams Dreamland Theater before the burning of Greenwood.

The Dreamland Theatre after the Greenwood burning.

Stradford Hotel before the destruction.  J. B. Stradford, a former slave, built this elegant 54-room hotel in Greenwood, Oklahoma. Hotel cost $50,000 to build and opened on June 1, 1918.

Stradford Hotel after the riots. A man sifts through the hotel ashes after the massacre. The hotel laid in ruins after the burning of Greenwood never built again. J. B. Stradford was indicted for inciting a riot and fled Greenwood. (Library of Congress)

Frank Wellborn building after the fire

Mt Zion Baptist Church in Greenwood Oklahoma in 1921 before blaze destroyed it. 

 Burning of Mt. Zion Baptist Church during the massacre in Black Wall Street. This structure was just 40 days old when it was destroyed and cost $135,000 to build and furnish.

Matthews Barber Shop and Matthews Pool Hall before the massacre in Greenwood

Guiding Questions:
  • Compare the before and after photos of Greenwood. What conclusions can you make from these photos?
  • Why would white Tulsans destroy churches and businesses?
  • Why did white Tulsans refer to citizens of Greenwood as “uppity blacks?”
  • What did whites hope to accomplish against blacks in Greenwood?

Homes Destroyed in Deep Greenwood Massacre:

The Greenwood residential area in happier days, pre-riot.

Within a matter of hours, homes were looted and burned, leaving thousands homeless in Greenwood. Whites took the rest of black families' possessions and threw them out on the street.

The white mob was motivated by jealousy and race hatred. These homes were in the better black residential sections that were burned to the ground.  

The Associated Negro Press

A 35-black of Black Wall Street reduced to ashes. In the background on the right is Mt. Zion Church in ruins, the structure was only 40 days old. In the background on the left is Booker T. Washington school, it was spared.    


Survivors search ruins of their homes for anything they can salvage. The only item identifiable is the metal bed frame in the middle of the picture

A black woman is taken prisoner during the riot. An armed white man rides on the running board of the truck. Tulsa Historical Society

Greenwood was uninhabitable after the massacre - it left more than 10,000 blacks homeless. The Red Cross set up tents as makeshift homes for blacks, and they lived in these tents for months even through freezing weather. (Library of Congress) 

Tulsa Historical Society and Museum
The Red Cross constructed temporary housing after the Tulsa race riot. The houses were built of wooden planks and canvas. Two relief workers are seen pictured on the left.

The Tulsa Tribune sensational reporting fanned the flames of racial unrest. Their reporting of the possible lynching of Dick Rowland started the Tulsa massacre in Greenwood, Oklahoma on May 31, 1921. This article was written on Saturday, June 4, 1921, "It Must Not Be Again" was a racist article that classified Greenwood as a "niggertown,", a cesspool of the lowest people who walk on two feet and places the blame of the massacre on blacks alone.

The Greenwood massacre was not a ‘disaster’ it was a pogrom against successful blacks and the destruction of 35 blocks of Black Wall Street, elimination of more than 1,256 homes, removal of more than 191 businesses, and left 10,000 blacks homeless.

Guiding Questions:
  • What can you tell about the economic success of blacks in Greenwood by looking at their homes and possessions before the massacre?
  • Read the Tulsa Daily World on June 2, 1921. Whom did they blame for the event? What inaccuracies can you find in the reporting?
  • How did The Tulsa Tribune characterize the blacks of Greenwood in “It Must Not Be Again.”
  • Read the article “Restore Peace.”  Was the author successful in characterizing the events of the Greenwood massacre?
  • Examine the photos after the burning of Greenwood. How do these photos compare to the images before the event?
  • Describe the temporary housing and conditions that blacks were forced to use after the burning of Greenwood.

KKK Postcards commemorating the “Tulsa Race Riot”:

KKK became more dominate in Tulsa after the Greenwood massacre. They used the massacre as a recruiting tool, declared “the riot was the best thing that ever happened to Tulsa,” and sold postcards in Tulsa’s downtown streets to raise money for the KKK. The Klan numbered more than 3 million nationwide, in the early 1920s, and won political power in Oklahoma, Indiana, and Oregon.

There was an auxiliary KKK for women, “Kamilla,” and a junior clan for boys 12 – 18 years of age as well.

Document A:
Image: Tulsa Historical Society

Document B:
Image: Tulsa Historical Society

Document C:
Image: Tulsa Historical Society

Guiding Questions:
  • How could the image in Document A, possibly help the KKK recruit membership?
  • What does the text and photo in Document B tell you about the way the KKK thought of blacks in 1921?
  • Do you notice anything unusual about the fire in Document B?
  • What possessions can you recognize in Document C that belonged to this black man?

Dyer-Anti-Lynching Bill: 1922 

Lynchings were violent, public events that traumatized blacks throughout the country and were tolerated by state and some federal officials. Blacks were tortured or murdered in front of spectators who often brought their families to watch. As a result, this act of terrorism enforced racial subordination and segregation. From the 1890s through the 1930s, sixteen southern and border states had laws dealing with lynching and mob violence, but violators were not apprehended nor prosecuted. Coroners’ investigations found death “at the hands of parties unknown.” Consequently, from 1918 to 1960s the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) sought federal intervention to end lynching.

Republicans often led efforts to pass federal anti-lynching laws, and their political platforms consistently called for a ban on lynching. Democrat Platforms never condemned lynching. Federal prosecutors were immune to local political pressures, so Republican Representative Leonidas Dyer of Missouri introduced a federal anti-lynching bill, the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill in 1921. 

The House of Representatives passed Dyer's bill making lynching a federal crime, but Democrats in the Senate delayed the bill and eventually killed it. The House of Representatives would pass anti-lynching bills in 1922, 1937, and 1940, but all would fail to pass the Senate because of threatened or real filibusters by southern Democrats.

Because of Democrat’s obstruction, Congress never passed an anti-lynching bill.

U.S. Rep. Leonidas Dyer (R-MO)

  A black man hangs from a tree in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as a white girl, about seven-years-old watches.

Guiding Questions:

  • What kind of person could show man's inhumanity to man by lynching another?
  • Why were people not prosecuted for lynching? How did that affect the practice of lynching?
  • Compare the two political party platforms. Which political party consistently called for a ban on lynching? Which political party condoned it?
  • "The Shame of America" was an advertisement put out by the Anti-Lynching Crusaders and the NAACP to help pass the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. What information can you learn from the ad? What can you find about the culture of lynching by reading it? 
  • Analyze the photo of the little girl at this lynching. What can you surmise by looking at the white people at this lynching? How would you characterize their expressions?
  • Why did the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill fail to pass the Senate?
  • How could something as reprehensible as lynching happen in America? 


Democratic and Republican Platforms http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/platforms.php
Lynching newspaper articles:                                                                                                          http://archive.tuskegee.edu/archive/bitstream/handle/123456789/512/Lynching%20Records.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y                                                                             
Envisioning Emancipation by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer (Temple University Press), 141, 198 -199, 
Jim Crow Museum and Video https://ferris.edu/jimcrow/#
Comparison of Jim Crow laws in the South http://classroomhelp.com/till/jimcrowlaws/jimcrowalabama.html                                                            http://classroomhelp.com/till/jimcrowlaws/jimcrowlawsgeorgia.html                                                      http://classroomhelp.com/till/jimcrowlaws/jimcrowlawsouthcarolina.html                                              http://classroomhelp.com/till/jimcrowlaws/Jimcrowlawsnorthcarolina.html                                            http://classroomhelp.com/till/jimcrowlaws/jimcrowlawswestvirginia.html                                              http://classroomhelp.com/till/jimcrowlaws/jimcrowmississippi.html                                                    http://classroomhelp.com/till/jimcrowlaws/Jimcrowkentucky.html

Thomas Edison’s short film: Watermelon Eating Contest  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu2-4a_QXlE
Plessy v Ferguson Supreme Court Ruling: Justice John M. Harlan (dissent) https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/163/537#writing-USSC_CR_0163_0537_ZD                                                                                      http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/nclc375/harlan.html
Plessy v Ferguson Supreme Court Ruling: Justice Henry B. Brown (majority) https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/163/537#writing-USSC_CR_0163_0537_ZO
April 1900 “The Exhibit of American Negroes” World’s Fair  https://mashable.com/2016/02/02/the-exhibit-of-american-negroes/#oMPOtT3z6Pqh
The Reader’s Companion to American History by Eric Foner and John A. Garraty (Houghton Mifflin Company) 351-352, 958 – 959, 1132 – 1133, 1144
Woodrow Wilson segregates the government: https://postalmuseum.si.edu/AfricanAmericanHistory/p5.html
The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street by Robin Walker (Reklaw Education Lecture Series)
Death in A Promised Land by Scott Ellsworth (Louisiana State University Press) 1 – 7, 16, 17 – 25, 45 – 47, 47 – 49, 49 – 51, 51 – 53, 57, 59, 63, 70, 87 -88, 99, 100 – 102, 109 – 110