The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Duck Hill lynchings - again

Searching in Google Books on "duck hill" lynching, we get some goodness.

In Against the Grain: Southern Radicals and Prophets, 1929-1959 by Anthony P Dunbar, for instance, this:
...[Howard] Kester...wrote a report on the lynching of two black men, Roosevelt Townes and "Bootjack"McDaniels in Duck Hill, Mississippi, which was published and widely distributed by the NAACP. Charged with murdering a white storekeeper, the pair were being led from the courthouse in Winona, Mississippi, on April 13, 1937, when twelve armed whites quietly and calmly kidnapped them. They were driven to a field near Windham's grocert in the community of Duck Hill, chained to two lonely pine trees, and then burned up with blowtorches. Their bodies were left hanging from the chains until a local white minister finally prevailed upon a Winona undertaker to cut them down and conduct a funeral service in the back room of his mortuary. The corpses were buried in a single pine box.

Piecing the scene together two weeks later, Kester found that "of the scores of people with whom I talked not a single one greatly deplored the lynching. The citizens of Duck Hill seemed rather well pleased with themselves."

Kester seems to have been a socialist and associate of Norman Thomas. He testified before the House committee (Judiciary?) dealing with the Gavagan antilynching bill, which duly passed and was filibustered in the Senate [1].

Also, in Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob by Dora Apel, more details (p212).

A New Deal for Blacks: The Emergence of Civil Rights as a National Issue: The Depression Decade by Harvard Sitkoff tells us (p290) that the Duck Hill story was told during a floor debate on the Gavagan bill by Rep Earl C Michener (R:MI-2) [2]. It says "The stunned House sat in silence until Michener finished."

  1. Chapter 1 of the Keith Finley thesis has further details; also, my earlier pieces on the subject.

  2. Amazing career in the House - represented MI-2 from 1919 to 1951, except for the 73rd Congress, when Dem John C Lehr kept his place warm. It was Lehr's only term.

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