[BOOKS] ✭ At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America Author Philip Dray – Dolove.info

At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America Although this book is anchored in the retelling of the stories of dozens of brutal lynchings that took place across America predominantly, but far from exclusively, in the South over the course of a hundred year or so span of American history, it is primarily a story of how activists and opposition movements worked to curtail and criminalize lynching The sad personal stories of lynchings many victims often provide some insight into how these murders reinforced the local caste system and Although this book is anchored in the retelling of the stories of dozens of brutal lynchings that took place across America predominantly, but far from exclusively, in the South over the course of a hundred year or so span of American history, it is primarily a story of how activists and opposition movements worked to curtail and criminalize lynching The sad personal stories of lynching s many victims often provide some insight into how these murders reinforced the local caste system and sought to quell black agency, social advancement, or economic competition but the focus and narrative arc is ultimately on the reformers, not the perpetrators or the communities who participated and supported them in their crimes The history does make clear that at least until the mid 50s when they becamecovert affairs , lynchings were collective actions, abetted by and celebrated by members of the community, but the hands of the persons involved remain largely unknown The story here and it is a heroic one is of the actions of individuals like W.E.B Dubois and Ida B Wells, as well as organizations like the NAACP , the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, and the Association of South Women for the Prevention of Lynching, to hold communities, law enforcement, and the state and federal governments to account and institute a system of rule of law that would stand up against extrajudicial killings While painfully incremental in their progress, these efforts were ultimately successful and helped set the stage for the civil rights activism of the 1950s and 1960s The factors that contributed to that success are varied, and include changes in the social patterns of Southern society driven by economic and post war trends the accompanying slow but continual struggle for empowerment by black communities and activists the concerted efforts of anti lynching advocates to expose the brutality of the crimes and contrast them with the experience of the world wars legal strategies and reform efforts aimed at holding sheriffs accountable for prisoners in their custody and institutionalizing due process and the eventual intervention of federal and state authorities into local jurisdictions It s a complex multi causal history, and while the public brutality of the mob remains fundamentally alien to me as a distant reader, this was a great education into our history as a nation A heavy, dense, jarring, violent read that should be read by all in adulthood Philip Dray carefully takes his time to weave through Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, World War I, the Progressive Era, Great Depression, World War II, and the infancy of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s never forgetting his thesis of showing lynching as a barbaric, ugly, and unlawful American tradition, that was often performed on Black Americans.Framing lynching as a means of grabbing some type of power A heavy, dense, jarring, violent read that should be read by all in adulthood Philip Dray carefully takes his time to weave through Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, World War I, the Progressive Era, Great Depression, World War II, and the infancy of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950 s never forgetting his thesis of showing lynching as a barbaric, ugly, and unlawful American tradition , that was often performed on Black Americans.Framing lynching as a means of grabbing some type of power grab and misguided means of justice of both affluent and poor whites to subjugate over Black life and Black bodies, the author never forgets to give the credit to two pioneers who started the work of tracking lynchings and demanding true justice for its victims Ida B Wells Barnett and Dr W.E.B DuBois In that vein, he explores the work of those two, countless others, and the genesis of over a dozen civil rights organizations.Sometimes, having almost 60 page long chapters, Dray s manuscript can feel like a chore to finish for the reader However, the wordy manuscript comes with a great reward of what I believe is a core representation of Wells Barnett and DuBois and countless others lifelong work Well sourced and cited, At The Hands can serve as a springboard into a deep dive into the subject of lynching and birthing of civil rights movements The jarring, violent, blow by blow, minute by minute recounting of the lynching incidents can become a bit cumbersome to the reader but is it any cumbersome than those who were victims and family friends of the victims and lived though the harrowing experiences The answer is simply no And in no means is any recounting of America s violent past, any excuse to never engage with the truth of that past I do believe toward the end of his manuscript, he may have felt a bit rushed by his editor He gives no real reason as to why lynchings seemed to stop and didn t seem pressed to deep dive as to why He also paints a picture of a flowery south in America now, where the racial discord is one of the past It seems it was an editorial mandate to put a pretty bow on it, at the end Nevertheless, those critiques don t take away from the sheer power and necessary ness no, that is not a word Lol of the work.A read I would definitely recommend to every single person now It took me two years to finish it because I kept picking it up and putting it down But I am most glad I finished it 4.5 5 stars Winner Of The Southern Book Critics Circle Award For NonfictionThis Extraordinary Account Of Lynching In America, By Acclaimed Civil Rights Historian Philip Dray, Shines A Clear, Bright Light On American History S Darkest Stain Illuminating Its Causes, Perpetrators, Apologists, And Victims Philip Dray Also Tells The Story Of The Men And Women Who Led The Long And Difficult Fight To Expose And Eradicate Lynching, Including Ida B Wells, James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, And WEB Du Bois If Lynching Is Emblematic Of What Is Worst About America, Their Fight May Stand For What Is Best The Commitment To Justice And Fairness And The Conviction That One Individual S Sense Of Right Can Suffice To Defy The Gravest Of Wrongs This Landmark Book Follows The Trajectory Of Both Forces Over American History And Makes Lynching S Legacy Belong To Us All As I type this, the President of the United States Donald J Trump has attacked Rep Elijah Cummings It was a racist attack This attack comes on the heels of countless attacks on four women of color who are also representatives, including a false claim that one of the women was married to her brother One of his opening attacks was telling the women to go back to their countries all four are American citizens, three were born in American, and the one who is naturalized has been a citizen As I type this, the President of the United States Donald J Trump has attacked Rep Elijah Cummings It was a racist attack This attack comes on the heels of countless attacks on four women of color who are also representatives, including a false claim that one of the women was married to her brother One of his opening attacks was telling the women to go back to their countries all four are American citizens, three were born in American, and the one who is naturalized has been a citizen longer than the First Lady and her Be Best campaign Then there was the time he said Congresswoman Wilson was a stripper Trump also believes that Obama is not an American and that the Obama family book deals should be investigated People are wary to say the following Trump is a racist because of reasons I m not entirely sure what those reasons are I know that some of them have to do with press rules, but considering that the above is only a fraction of what the Trump presidency has done in terms of attacking people of color, including the targeting of reporter April Ryan, and considering Trump s record in NYC, it should be a matter of record that Trump is in fact a racist Tie that to the Federal Government going back to executions under a President who wanted the Central Park Five executed after their innocence was acknowledged proven , and we are entering an even scary time than most people dare I say most white people are aware Dray s history of lynching in America makes it abundantly clear that same circumstances that existed to allow lynching exist today In spades It wouldn t be too hard to draw a connection between the violence that has been threatened towards AOC and Omar, and lynching s It is not surprising that Trump targets people of color who call him out on his behavior or are critical of his policies And what is the difference between MAGA and the change that Omar and the squad say is needed Outside of how the policies are different, both are saying the country needs to be improved It is the same reason why lynching was done it is a way to keep the power in the relationship, to enforce a racist hierarchy But you know this In his book, Dray details not only famous and lesser known cases of lynching including one at a university but also the whys for the violence he moves beyond the accurate if board racism as well as those who fought against it and sometimes those people will surprise you , he also details the society that allowed it The comments in the news, by people and such And many of those comments are pretty much the language that Trump and his supporters are using That is one reason why you should read this bookYou should also read this book because this part of American history is something that we should not ignore or be ignorant about In part, this is so we can avoid it, but also so we can understand and acknowledge the problems in the relationship between the justice system and minority communities many of the lynching s were done with approval or little intervention from the justice system, and we still see that impact today.In part, so that we can confront the ugly history the same way that countries such as Germany have confronted theirs That is another reason to read this book Dray s writing is engaging He doesn t shy away from the graphic unpleasant details, but he does not use load language to try to heighten the reader s emotional responses The cases that he focuses on are either famous enough to warrant mention, or because the lack of or response to the attacks is important historically While the book does have photos, and some of those are disturbing to look at as they should be , the book is primary description, which as always makes the horrific evenso If you are worried about being triggered, the photos are in the photo section just over mid way in The first photo in that section is not bad So, if you need to skip the photos, you can The book is packed with information and you will discover other books to read in the narrative The one strange thing was that he starts with W E B DuBois, and I was hoping for Ida B Wells But I guesspeople know DuBois as opposed to Wells Though, hopefully this book helps to correct that This book was hard on my soul I always thought when a Black person was lynched, they died of a broken neck, which is a relatively quick death I didn t know that being strung up on a rope was done after the person was tortured, mostly by first taking souvenirs of the still living person The first to go was the victim s penis then the fingers, toes, ears, etc Then the person was roasted slowly over a fire, and then hung After that pictures were taken of the body and sent all over the This book was hard on my soul I always thought when a Black person was lynched, they died of a broken neck, which is a relatively quick death I didn t know that being strung up on a rope was done after the person was tortured, mostly by first taking souvenirs of the still living person The first to go was the victim s penis then the fingers, toes, ears, etc Then the person was roasted slowly over a fire, and then hung After that pictures were taken of the body and sent all over the country with hundreds and even thousands of people standing around smiling the audience actually fought over the remaining pieces of the victims I also didn t know right after reconstruction up until the 1940 s at least ten lynchings too place a month Most of them with cooperation with the local authorities , including the railroad companies that added special trains to get hundreds of people from different states to a lynching in another state The papers covered these lynchings as entertainment At times this was a difficult book to read, but I m glade I did Reading Chekhov along side it was soothing for some reason Incredible Probably one of the best books I ve read in the last year and a half On one hand a brutal yet clear examination of the history of lynching in U.S history, the book also serves as a nice compendium of the history of race relations from Reconstruction to the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement It helps that Dray makes his examination concrete by focusing on individual larger than life characters, most notably Ida B Wells and W.E.B Dubois, and that he also writes on a larger Incredible Probably one of the best books I ve read in the last year and a half On one hand a brutal yet clear examination of the history of lynching in U.S history, the book also serves as a nice compendium of the history of race relations from Reconstruction to the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement It helps that Dray makes his examination concrete by focusing on individual larger than life characters, most notably Ida B Wells and W.E.B Dubois, and that he also writes on a larger historical scale, zooming in on noticeable events in history and particular acts of domestic terrorism and lynchings and legal battles that help shape the book with a narrative flaw that makes for charged and energetic reading I was also profoundly moved, and yet saddened towards the end, at the plights of blacks in this country, and at the levels and depths of human ignorance, folly, and travesty, that can manifest itself on such a large scale Five stars because every American adult should read it Unsurprisingly, it s not an easy or a pleasant read But it is well written and compelling The violence and terror experienced by blacks during the lynching era 1880 1940 was much worse than many of us have imagined No aspect of black life was unaffected by that terror It was deeply ingrained in black experience and nearly impossible to escape It s essential for all Americans to understand how pervasive and profound the terror was Five stars because every American adult should read it Unsurprisingly, it s not an easy or a pleasant read But it is well written and compelling The violence and terror experienced by blacks during the lynching era 1880 1940 was much worse than many of us have imagined No aspect of black life was unaffected by that terror It was deeply ingrained in black experience and nearly impossible to escape It s essential for all Americans to understand how pervasive and profound the terror was that circumscribed black families and black communities at the hands of white people not just those in white capes and hoods but the entire white establishment state, community, media, churches The violence was out in the open, shameless, even celebrated Until we confront the reality of our past, we will not heal nor understand how that past informs the present Excellent book, reads like a novel I could see so many parallels with the present time Read this after you read fluff like The Help for aaccurate reality and proof that black people were not victims but actively sought to change their circumstances Also read Without Sanctuary the descriptions of these brutal and animalistic lynchings by racist America are almost hard to believe until you see the actual postcard photos that were collectors items Amazing book about appalling historyAs a history buff who has also read a lot about the death penalty in the United States, I was surprised by how many of the stories and names in this book were completely new to me I was also surprised to learn how wrong I was in my prior assumptions about what a typical lynching looked like I had no idea how often victims were killed by means other than hanging especially being burned alive or how often the body was further mistreated even after Amazing book about appalling historyAs a history buff who has also read a lot about the death penalty in the United States, I was surprised by how many of the stories and names in this book were completely new to me I was also surprised to learn how wrong I was in my prior assumptions about what a typical lynching looked like I had no idea how often victims were killed by means other than hanging especially being burned alive or how often the body was further mistreated even after death.Horrific though this history is, though, this is also the story of the people and organizations who courageously fought back through campaigns to raise public awareness and attempts to pass legislation to make lynching a federal crime Though it is easy to become depressed while reading all the lynching stories depicting the worst of humanity, Dray consistently highlights the best of humanity as well through the contributions of those who risked everything to resist lynching culture and put an end to the shame of America In short, I would definitely recommend this book to all those interested in American history or in having a better understanding of race relations in the United States Sweeping, definitive, sickening A companion to Buried in the Bitter Waters that should be mandatory reading for those who utter the phrase post racial age.

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