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Texas Matters: The ugly history of lynching

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Lynching in Texas used to be a mostly secret and clandestine method of extralegal execution for horse thieves and supporters of the Union — like at the Great Hanging at Gainsville when in 1862, there were 41 people lynched. After the Civil War, lynching transformed from being a perverted frontier justice into a warped form of public entertainment designed to terrorize the Black population with a nightmarish hyperviolent torture that was on full display.

In her new book “Lynching and Leisure: Race and the Transformation of Mob Violence in Texas,” Terry Anne Scott examines how lynching came to function not only as a tool for debasing the status of Black people but also as entertainment for the white communities in Texas.

Scott is the chair of the Department of History at Hood College in Maryland. She produced a comprehensive study of Texas lynchings, which sheds new light on the practice that was a strategy of racial domination. Scott argues that — in a new form — it continues today.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi