According to the Equal Justice Initiative’s 2015 report, more than 4,000 black people were publicly lynched in the U.S. between 1877 and 1950. Never once has there been a charge against any of the lynch mobs. This horrific custom of the public murdering of black people with little to no consequence to the perpetrators draws a disturbing parallel to the recurring lack of indictment on the recent string of live documented murders of African-Americans at the hands of police officers and vigilante citizens. The sobering fact is that racial terror is as American as apple pie and this interactive map documents that fact.
Named after 20th-century sociologist Monroe Nathan Work, who spent decades gathering statistics on lynchings, the Monroe Work Today research group compiled this detailed look at nearly every documented lynching in the U.S. between the 1830s and 1960s. By scrolling around the interactive map, users can view data points such as the victim’s year of murder and ethnicity. The website states, “In the century after the Civil War, as many as 5000 people of color were executed by mobs believing the cause of white supremacy.” The statement goes on to say, “On average, mobs killed 9 people per month during the 1890’s. The average was 7 people per month over the next 20 years.”
As we continue to focus on all the magnificent moments and contributions of black people during this Black History Month, it is important that we also acknowledge the painful moments in American history and the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in such a brutal way.
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