Life in the Jim Crow South was often dangerous for African Americans. Lynchings and white mob violence provoked real fear in black communities. For many Southern blacks, other hazards menaced their daily lives. A white employer might try to take sexual advantage of his black maid, a white landowner might cheat his or her black tenant farmers, a white shopkeeper might insult a black customer in front of others. The prospect of humiliation by whites was a constant source of anxiety. White Southerners reacted swiftly against blacks they perceived were "getting uppity"—that is, actively trying to get ahead in life, or asserting themselves in front of whites.

This unidentified man was one of 61 African-Americans lynched in Florida from 1921-1946.

During the Jim Crow Era lynchings were commonplace, and condoned by white authorities.  By 1930, four thousand blacks had been lynched nationwide by white mobs, vigilantes, or the Klan. Most of these occurred in the Deep South, many with law enforcement complicity. And while Alabama and Mississippi had more total lynchings, it was Florida, surprisingly, that had the highest per capita rate of lynching from 1900-1930.  One of the most notorious lynchings in U.S. history occurred in Marianna, Florida. The lynching of Claude Neal was the last of the so-called spectacle lynchings.

Lynchings: By Southern States and Race, 1882-1968 *

State               White                        Black                          Total
Alabama                      48                                  299                             347 

Arkansas                      58                                  226                             284

Florida                         25                                  257                            282

Georgia                        39                                  492                            531

Kentucky                      63                                  142                            205

Louisiana                      56                                  335                            391

Maryland                       2                                    27                              29

Mississippi                   42                                   539                            581

Missouri                       53                                    69                            122

North Carolina             15                                    86                            101

Oklahoma                    82                                    40                            122

South Carolina               4                                   156                            160

Tennessee                    47                                   204                            251

Texas                         141                                   352                            493

Virginia                        17                                    83                            100

West Virginia               20                                    28                              48

*Statistics provided  by the Archives at Tuskegee Institute.


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