Tag Archives: Lynching

New play ‘The Last Lynching’ chronicles largest lynching trial in US history

In February 1947, Willie Earle hired a taxicab to take him home from Greenville, SC, to Liberty, about 20 minutes away. Early the next morning, the driver, Thomas Watson Brown, lay dying in a Greenville hospital. Soon, Earle was charged with stabbing Brown and was taken to the nearby Pickens jail. About the same time that Watson finally succumbed to his wounds, Earle’s body was found mutilated by the side of a lonely, frosty road.

Willie Earle was black. Only hours after he’d been arrested at his mother’s home and taken to jail, 31 white cab drivers snatched him from his cell, drove him to a vacant lot next to a slaughterhouse and blew his brains out. In subsequent statements to federal authorities, they all confessed.

Three months later, an all-white jury acquitted all 31 defendants.

The trial drew international and national attention.

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FDR tiptoes around the lynching issue

The movement to put anti-lynching legislation in place gained new momentum with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. The president’s wife Eleanor had been a long-time opponent of lynching. During that year, lynchings had decreased to a new low of ten incidents and during the entire decade “only” 88 blacks were lynched. Appalachia, […]

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