Songs Without Words

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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…

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,…

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…

This drawing by Richmond Planet editor John Mitchell, Jr., drew attention to Ida B. Wells’s success in bringing British attention to American inaction in the face of southern lynching. The drawing shows the cannon of British public opinion…

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…

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…

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,…

Following the lynching of "Click" Mitchell in spring of 1897, African American editors criticized both President William McKinley’s silence, and Booker T. Washington’s suggestion that lynch victims were “invariably…

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…
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