On Tuesday, the organization he founded and runs, the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., released a report on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research and 160 visits to sites around the South. The authors of the report compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950.
Efforts to count the number of lynchings in the country go back at least to 1882, when The Chicago Tribune began publishing each January a list of all executions and lynchings in the previous year. The Tuskegee Institute began releasing a list in 1912, and in 1919, the N.A.A.C.P. published what its researchers said was a comprehensive list of lynchings in the previous three decades. In 1995, the sociologists Stewart Tolnay and E. M. Beck researched the existing lists, eliminated errors and duplicates, and compiled what many consider the most accurate inventory to that time.
The report released Tuesday says that the new inventory has 700 names that are not on any of these previous lists, many of which Mr. Stevenson said were discovered during the compilation of the report.
“If you’re trying to make a point that the amount of racial violence is underestimated, well then, there’s no doubt about it,” Professor Beck said. “What people don’t realize here is just how many there were, and how close. Places they drive by every day.”
Among Professor Beck’s findings were that the number of lynchings did not rise or fall in proportion to the number of state-sanctioned executions, underscoring what Mr. Stevenson said was a crucial point: that these brutal deaths were not about administering popular justice, but terrorizing a community.
New York Times
Feb 10 2015 (all day)