Songs Without Words

Browse Items (16 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,…

This drawing in the Indianapolis Freeman shows Uncle Sam standing impotently before a robed figure, Ethiopia, as she gestures toward the shooting of innocent African American men and women, and a burning church. “See how my people are murdered,…

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…

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 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…

The gruesome lynching of a mentally disabled man, Henry Smith in Paris, Texas, in February 1893, sparked renewed visual critique in the African American press regarding federal inaction on lynching. The mob’s torture of Henry Smith seemed to…

After the brutal lynching of a mentally disabled man, Henry Smith, this image in Detroit Plaindealer portrayed the failure of outgoing President Benjamin Harrison administration’s to condemn the lynching as a direct contrast to Abraham…

Like journalists Jesse Duke and Ida B. Wells, Richmond Planet editor John Mitchell, Jr., had braved mob retaliation for defending an African American man from a rape charge, and challenged the increase in lynching actively. In 1894, for example,…

In spring 1894, the Cleveland Gazette published this rare lynching image to protest the murder of Roscoe Parker, in West Union, Ohio. The paper included a simple pen-and-ink drawing of Parker’s lynched body—with the white mob sketched in…

In early 1895, Richmond Planet editor John Mitchell, Jr., published a series of his own drawings, beginning with this illustration “Prays for His Persecutors.” The image depicts an African American man kneeling in prayer against a…
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