© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Author Explores Texas History Of Fiery Lynchings

newspaper-xxx0_0.jpg

In Texas, from 1891 to 1922, there was a systematic and routine practice of the burning of African American men at the stake. It happened so often that the state averaged one fatal burning a year during that 31-year period. These didn’t happen in the backwoods in secret by hooded men, but in town squares in daylight with local politicians leading the cheering mobs.

book-blackholocaust_1.jpg

These burnings typically featured carnival atmospheres with thousands in attendance, including men, women and children who later described the spectacles as jovial "barbecues" or "roasts," and commemorated the events with "lynching" postcards. It was a period when many white Texans--previously enraged by Reconstruction--reasserted white primacy and terrorized black Texans with impunity.

Texas historian E.R. Bills writes about it in his new book – “Black Holocaust – the Paris Horror and a Legacy of Texas Terror.” Bills also wrote "The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas" and "Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious."

Be advised, there is some explicit language in this interview [audio linked above], including very disturbing descriptions of the torture and burning of one man. If you are sensitive to graphic and detailed explanations of horrific violence, then do not listen.

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