On July 23, 1893, Lee Walker, a black laborer from Memphis, was lynched for allegedly attempting to sexually assault two white women on the their way to town. He was hunted down and captured and put in the downtown Memphis jail. There was no question about what was to happen next; the day before the lynching, the Memphis Public Ledger, one of the oldest dailies in the city sent a telegram to the Inter-Ocean newspaper in Chicago: “Lee Walker, colored man, accused of raping white women, in jail here, will be taken out and burned by whites to-night. Can you send Miss Ida Wells to write it up?”
That night, a mob stormed the jail and Walker was dragged out and hanged and burned. Because the lynching took place in downtown Memphis, the city newspapers were able to cover the lynching in shocking and lurid detail. The following is an excerpt from the Memphis Commercial, July 23, 1893.