Songs Without Words

Browse Items (37 total)

In the late summer of 1889, the Indianapolis Freemanused the figure of Uncle Sam to protest a Gouldsboro, Louisiana, massacre of African American families on an excursion, and the burning of a church, as a symbol of federal protection. In this image,…

John Mitchell, Jr. created this drawing to contrast two states’ commitments to “law and order.” An Ohio judge refused to release a black man accused of murder to Kentucky, for fear that the man would be lynched in transit. In the…

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…

In this image, widely reproduced in the African American press, popular white political cartoonist Thomas Nast captured the outrage that followed the lynching of three African American men in Memphis, Tennessee a few months earlier--the incident that…

In this image in the Richmond Planet, editor and artist John Mitchell, Jr., highlighted the double standard in suppressing reporting and legal prosecution of sexual crimes against African American girls and women. Speculating on the reasons for the…

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…

When six white men gang-raped an African American woman in Columbus, Ohio, the Cleveland Gazette published their profiles on its front page, providing something rarely seen in mainstream newspaper accounts of interracial rape in the 1890s—the…

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…

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…
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