Songs Without Words

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When editor Alexander Manly challenged the rape/lynching narrative in his paper, the Wilmington Record, a white mob destroyed his press, forced him to leave town, and murdered others in a two-day massacre. In protest, the Indianapolis Freeman…

On the eve of local elections in 1895, the Indianapolis Freeman printed a previously-published drawing by the late political cartoonist Henry J. Lewis, entited "A Song Without Words." The drawing used inserts within the larger frame to tell the story…

In spring of 1897 African American editors were outraged when President William McKinley ignored the lynching of an Ohio man, “Click” Mitchell. In somewhat sensational style, the Indianapolis Freeman depicted the mob scene, with insets…

As editor, George L. Knox re-printed a drawing by the late political cartoonist Henry J. Lewis in the formerly independent Indianapolis Freeman to chide the National Negro Democratic Convention meeting in that city in August 1894. "Gentlemen," reads…

In its election-eve issue in 1892, perhaps to encourage the exodus that Ida B. Wells’s campaign had begun, the Indianapolis Freeman re-printed a drawing by the late political cartoonist, Henry J. Lewis. A series of frames reminded readers that…

In June 1892, the Indianapolis Freeman re-printed an earlier visual compilation of civil rights themes drawn by the late political cartoonist Henry J. Lewis. The small cartoon laments the need for combative imagery in the black press, but explains…

When Frederick Douglass warned whites of the dangers of “reaping the whirlwind,” the Indianapolis Freeman recycled an oft-used drawing by the late political cartoonist, Henry J. Lewis, showing a sleeping African American Gulliver, a…

In this image, the Indianapolis Freeman depicts Uncle Sam as a gravedigger, tending the failed legislation of generations. A headstone for the recently-defeated “Blair Education Bill,” which would have supplied federal funding for local…

Indianapolis Freeman artists typically denounced racial discrimination and social inequality, and focused on presidential failures to stem racial violence. This frequently-repeated drawing, for example, showed an Atlas-like figure shouldering the…

During the winter of 1889–1890, the killing of prisoners by a white mob in Barnwell, South Carolina, and a “race war” in Georgia, prompted the Indianapolis Freeman to unleash a more pointed visual critique of so-called southern…
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