A few days after Christmas, "... the victims of America's last lynching of 1918 were buried in Alabama - two black men, ages fifteen and twenty, and two black women, ages sixtine and twenty. All four had been hanged in Mississippi from the girders of a bridge spanning the Chickasawhay River. They were suspected of murdering a local doctor whose actual murderer, a white man, would be found several days after the hangings. As the four victims stood on the bridge with the nooses around their necks, they begged the white men to set them free. Despite the severe beatings they had endured to force their confessions, they continued to profess their innocence. But this only agitated their killers. To stop the cries of innocence, one man repeatedly struck the older of the girls in the mouth with a wrench, hitting her enough times to knock out all her teeth. She was five months pregnant. The younger girl was also pregnant, due in two weeks. They hit her enough times in the back that she was nearly unconscious by the time the four were hanged. On the afternoon of the burials, the younger girl's mother believed that the baby in her daughter's womb was still alive. But no one knew how to save it and everyone was afraid to seek help outside the circle of friends who had come to mourn the dead that day."
~ From Savage Peace by Ann Hagedorn, pp. 44-45.
When I read this chilling account on the morning hours (November 17), I knew that I was reading the story of hell - hell created by white men in the Deep South, white men hating themselves for who they had become during centuries of slavery, only to hate the once enslaved all the more. Were these white men drunk on white lightening? Or just drunk on their own insanity of power and hatred? I'm sure most of them were in church for Christmas singing, "Silent Night," and were likely in church again the next Sunday to hear about Je-e-sus and how Jesus saves.
There is something wrong in the Deep South to this very day - hence the riots that broke out in the early morning hours on the campus of the University of Mississippi after President Obama's reelection Nov. 7.
The Deep South remains crippled with this poison, and all dressed up in the righteous rags of States' Rights and religion, this so-called "Southern Strategy" threatens to cripple the entire nation politically and financially.
Sadly, in all parts of the country, and now especially in the mid-west, these poisons have found new homes in the hearts of old white men who no longer "feel at home in the world that once belonged to them," and young white men who find themselves unable to claim the "American Dream."
Whatever faith you may possess, I hope the above account shakes you to the core of your soul and leaves you disturbed.
For this is a story that continues to live in America's underbelly, and, in some tragic ways, in every white American.
Perhaps humanity can never fully expunge the poisons of racial hatred, but awareness of it's deadly nature, and a mindfulness of its symptoms, will enable us to control it within ourselves, and name it when it rears its ugly head, though wearing a fine suit and sounding oh so erudite.
America's underbelly - a story not to be forgotten!