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Mass Lynching in New Orleans / Racial Violence in America
Mass Lynching in New Orleans
July 24 to 27, 1900, White mobs unleashed a campaign of racial terror throughout the city of New Orleans that resulted in the lynching of at least seven Black people. Violence began after police tried to arrest Robert Charles, a 35-year old Black man. During this era, Black people carried a heavy presumption of guilt and faced hostile suspicion, whether evidence implicated them or not. On July 23, White policemen confronted Mr. Charles while he was seated peacefully on a doorstep. Mr. Charles objected, struggled, and ultimately fled after multiple exchanges of gunfire, leaving two officers dead on July 24. In response, thousands of armed white people, shouting "kill the negroes,” gathered at (once) Robert E. Lee Circle seeking to attack Black people. Over several days, White mobs shot, beat, and killed Black people in a terror crusade to maintain White supremacy. In the first 48-hours of the attack, police failed to intervene as the mobs abducted, killed and maimed Black people. and destroyed the Thomy Lafon School, leaving no public education for Black children in New Orleans after the fifth grade for nearly 20 years. On July 27, policemen and deputized civilian militia discovered Mr. Charles at 1208 Saratoga Street and brutally killed him after hours of gunfire exchange. In the four day massacre, White mobs lynched several Black people, including Hannah Mabry, a wife and mother. No one was ever convicted for their deaths.
Racial Violence in America
Thousands of Black people were the victims of racial terror lynching in the United States between 1877 and 1950. Following the Civil War, White southerners violently resisted equal rights for African Americans and sought to uphold an ideology of White supremacy through intimidation and lethal violence. Lynching emerged as the most public and notorious form of racial terrorism and violence, intended to intimidate Black people and enforce racial hierarchy and segregation. In 1898, two years after the Supreme Court decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson, legalizing segregation, a state constitutional convention was convened in Louisiana to mitigate the perceived threat of Black political power to white political control through "the purification of the electorate," and to establish the supremacy of the White race." Many Black people were lynched following unsubstantiated accusations of violating social customs, engaging in interracial relationships, or committing crimes, in most cases, including the July 1900 Mass Lynching in New Orleans, local law enforcement was indifferent to or ineffective in protecting Black residents from these attacks, allowing Whites to employ violence and murder without fear of any legal repercussions. Many victims of racial terror lynching were not recorded and will never be known, but of the 548 documented lynchings in Louisiana, at least 15 took place in Orleans Parish.