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The NAACP hoped that the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 would bring an end to lynching. Two African American campaigners against lynching, Mary McLeod Bethune and Walter Francis White, had been involved in helping Roosevelt to obtain victory. His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, had also been a long-time opponent of lynching.
In 1935 attempts were made to persuade Franklin D. Roosevelt to support a Anti-Lynching bill that had been introduced into Congress. However, Roosevelt refused to speak out in favour of the bill that would punish sheriffs who failed to protect their prisoners from lynch mobs. He argued that the white voters in the South would never forgive him if he supported the bill and he would therefore lose the next election.
Even the appearance in the newspapers of the lynching of Rubin Stacy failed to change Roosevelt's mind on the subject. Six deputies were escorting Stacy to Dade County jail in Miami on 19th July, 1935, when he was taken by a white mob and hanged by the side of the home of Marion Jones, the woman who had made the original complaint against him. The New York Times later revealed that "subsequent investigation revealed that Stacy, a homeless tenant farmer, had gone to the house to ask for food; the woman became frightened and screamed when she saw Stacy's face."
That ordinary people did these things is deeply disturbing; that they manufactured a social rationale for their acts is more disturbing still. Look for a while at the picture of the lynching of Rubin Stacy, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1930. Look first at Stacy, then turn to the little girl in the summer dress, looking at Stacy, and then to the man behind her, perhaps her father, in the spotless white shirt and slacks and the clean white skimmer. They will stand there forever, admiring the proof of their civilization.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Jerome Wilson, Franklington, Kentucky (January 11 1935)
Anderson Ward, Maringuoin, Louisiana (March 3 1935)
Abe Young, Slayden, Mississippi (March 12 1935)
Daughter of Rev. A. B. Brookins, Poinsett, Arkansas (March 21 1935)
Rev. T. Allen, Hernando, Mississippi (March 21 1935)
Mary Green, Mississippi County, Arkansas (March 22 1935)
R. J. Tyrone, Lawrence, Mississippi (March 25 1935)
Unidentified African American, Hernando, Mississippi (March 28 1935)
R. D. McGee, Wiggins, Mississippi (June 22 1935)
Dooley Morton, Columbus, Mississippi (July 15 1935)
Bert Moore, Columbus, Mississippi (July 15 1935)
Reuben Stacy, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (July 19 1935)
Govan Ward, Louisburg, North Carolina (August 3 1935)
Bodie Bates, Pittsboro, Mississippi (August 5 1935)
Elwood Higgenbotham, Oxford, Mississippi (September 17 1935)
Lewis Harris, Vienna, Georgia (September 28 1935)
Bo Bronson, Moultrie, Georgia (October 17 1935)
2 unidentified African Americans, Gretna, Louisiana (November 1 1935)
Baxter Bell, White Bluff, Tennessee (November 4 1935)
Ernest Collins, Columbus, Texas (November 11 1935)
The Rubin Stacy Story: A Meditation on lynching in a Post-Racial America
“The faintest ink is better than the best memory” was said to me by a friend’s uncle at Christmas lunch in Barbados. If ink beats memory, then pictures beat the self-induce fantasy of a nation, right? For this black history month, I question the existence of a post-racial America.
Yesterday, I began to stare at the photos of Rubin Stacy, a man born between 1899-1907 in Georgia. He left Georgia to go to Florida where there were more opportunities. Unfortunately, he was murdered July 19, 1935 in Fort Lauderdale. He was murdered because he was falsely accused of trying to harm Marion Jones, a white woman. She later reported that he came to her door begging for food.
In the foreground of the photo, you see—the bloodied body of—our Rubin hanging from a tree. In the background, you see a group of whites milling about looking on with glee at the STRANGE FRUIT. In the group of children, you can see this little white girl smiling angelically up at the beaten, swollen and patently dead face of Rubin Stacy. In addition to the pain endured by Rubin, I want to focus on this white girl, her angelic smile, her Sunday’s best wears, and her clan of ‘law-abiding’ white folks. This iconic image captures what we collaboratively seek to forget in order to embrace this color-blind, post-racial and multi-culti society.
We seek to forget what James Allen and Philip Dray captured in their respective works Without Sanctuary and At the Hands of Persons Unknown that the story of lynching is “a tale of ordinary White Americans perpetrating, in ritualized installments, the mass murder of Black Americans.”
Yeah, that’s right, ‘the white family next door’ was responsible for Rubin’s hanging not the Klan. What’s more horrifying to note is that in these lynching rituals the town’s people protected each other and often in the police and coroner’s records these crimes are often cited as killed “at the hands of persons unknown.” So how would you explain the little white girl’s smile when we can presume that she is not a child of a Klan member?
For the sake of irony, let’s call the white girl, who has the chillingly-sweet grin on her face, Angelica. Look closely at our Angelica’s smiling face, don’t you wonder what morbid thoughts are going through her mind what particularly is she enjoying about the grotesque gore of Rubin Stacy’s murder how she, the embodiment of everything that must be protected, is capable of such merriment at the torture and murder of a black person? In addition to those questions, I find myself asking if our Angelica is still alive is she one of the old great-great-grandmothers who socially transmits hatred into her children’s and their descendents? We must remember that her smile is more than glee. It is more than a reaction to victory. Her smile is inextricably linked to each grotesque act that caused Rubin Stacy—the black body – pain, fear, horror, and for his—our –blood to spill.
Imagine as Rubin was marched, like Jesus, to that tree being jeered by onlookers, kicked, spat on, hit, and disfigured. But unlike Jesus, our Rubin hasn’t risen from death an iconic figured worshipped by white, brown, yellow and black folks. Instead he has been all but forgotten and again denied his humanity, because his murderers’ were protected by the law, the government and ‘law abiding’ citizens.
To be totally alone, and staring (while your eyes are intact) into the eyes of your enemies/murderers, this was Rubin’s fate. Do you see our Angelica smiling and possibly collecting her souvenir (e.g., eyes, genitals, fingers, bloodied clothing, and etc)? With such a glee-filled grin on her face, I am sure she collected herself a nice souvenir that she, if alive, probably kept as a keepsake that rivals the way Rose kept the heart of the ocean in Titanic. Captured in our Rubin’s American story and the photograph are the greatest forms of violence and marginality.
Each cut, tear, bruise, struggled breath, and possible plea for his life was a resounding slap at this imagined idea of who needs to be protected in the USA. Our Rubin Stacy, the imagined other, was and still today is often more in need of protecting than our sweet Angelica or Marion Jones, the white lady who cried-wolf (read: black) which lead to Rubin’s death. This trope, of the white women who cry-black, has continued: Bonnie Sweeten, Mary Turcotte, Susan Smith, Bethany Storro, Amy Fox and Ashley Todd. Even when some white women aren’t crying-black, some white men are right there to continue in their stead: Charles Stuart, Brian Wells, and Robert Ralston.
The silent truth is that our Rubin never got his day in court.
I’ve been staring at this picture, in one way or another, for years we all have. Like Whitman who hears and Hughes who sings, I too hear and sing America. I bear witness to the duality that is America. I sing of the maddeningly schizophrenic reality of the country we, the descendents of Rubin and Angelica share. I sing of the ‘high tech lynchings’ that are happening across America in class rooms, in the job market, and right now in rural, suburban and backwoods areas where Angelica’s brood have been growing silently. I hear America singing the final hymn of the song that started in 1619.
Lynching of Rubin Stacy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 19, 1935, United States, New York, Schomburg Center.
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Rubin Stacey, lynched victim, hanging from a tree
Dates / Origin Date Issued: 1930 - 1951 Library locations Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division Shelf locator: Sc Photo Lynching Topics Lynchings -- United States African Americans -- Crimes against Hanging -- United States African Americans -- Crimes against Hangings (Executions) -- Florida -- Fort Lauderdale Genres Photographs Clippings Physical Description Halftone photomechanical prints Extent: B 26 x 21 cm. Description Rubin Stacey, lynched victim, hanging from a tree, surrounded by onlookers, including girls, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Type of Resource Still image Identifiers NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b16191416 Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 9ad26540-0042-0130-44fb-58d385a7bc34 Rights Statement The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.
Not only lynched, but tortured
In 2018, the Equal Justice Initiative opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, the country’s first memorial to the victims of lynching. The memorial contains 801 six-foot monuments constructed of oxidized steel, one for each county where a lynching took place. Each victim’s name is engraved on the rust-colored columns, strung from beams, much like the lynched bodies of black men, women and children who were likened to “strange fruit” in a 1930s anti-lynching protest song made famous by Billie Holliday.
Lynchings were a brutal form of extrajudicial killings and took place across the country, including the three states where Floyd, Taylor, and Arbrey lived. They not only included hanging people from trees, they often included torture. White mobs cut off black men’s genitals, severed fingers and toes, and skinned victims who were sometimes burned alive. Black women and children were victims too. According to records, white mobs sometimes sliced open the wombs of pregnant black women, killing their babies too.
In 1918, Mary Turner, who was 21 and eight months pregnant, was lynched by a white mob in Southern Georgia after she protested the lynching of her husband the day before, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Walter White, who led the NAACP from 1929 to 1955, was sent to investigate. Between 1880 and 1968, there were at least 637 lynchings recorded in the state, according to a Tuskegee Institute study.
“Abusive plantation owner, Hampton Smith, was shot and killed,” according to the NAACP. “A week-long manhunt resulted in the killing of the husband of Mary Turner, Hayes Turner. Mary Turner denied that her husband had been involved in Smith’s killing, publicly opposed her husband’s murder, and threatened to have members of the mob arrested.”
The next day, a mob came after Mary Turner. “The mob tied her ankles, hung her upside down from a tree, doused her in gasoline and motor oil and set her on fire,” the NAACP reported. “Turner was still alive when a member of the mob split her abdomen open with a knife and her unborn child fell on the ground. The baby was stomped and crushed as it fell to the ground. Turner’s body was riddled with hundreds of bullets.”
Many of the black people lynched were never formally accused of crimes. Some were lynched simply for addressing a white person in a way the white person deemed inappropriate. Others were killed after being accused of bumping into a white woman, looking a white person directly in the eye or drinking from a white family’s well.
“There is a depth of hatred in the bone marrow of this country that supports the killing of the black body,” said CeLillianne Green, a historian, poet, and author.
The country was built on racial ideals of white supremacy, Green said. Forty of the 56 founders who signed the Declaration of Independence, as well as 10 of the first 12 presidents were slaveowners. The Constitution did not recognize black people as fully human, counting enslaved people as three-fifths of a free person.
Readers react to photo, story on 1935 South Florida lynching | Letters to the editor
As painful and disturbing the photo of Rubin Stacy’s lynching is to see ["A lynch mob killed a Black man in Fort Lauderdale in 1935. His name was Rubin Stacy," Sept. 11], I commend you for publishing it. We must face and accept our past mistakes as a society in order to correct them. Simply suppressing hatred for a period of time only to have it surface over and over is not the answer.
Michael Spatz, Fort Lauderdale
Running lynching photo was the wrong thing to do
The event happened 85 years ago, yet it gets front page coverage. I see no purpose for the story and the photo other than to inflame the Black community, which is already in an uproar over the recent deaths of several Blacks at the hands of police.
J. J. Sowers, Delray Beach
Made myself read the article and, more shocking, the pictures! I too found myself heartbroken on the adults and children captured in the photo. Can anyone looking at that scene be surprised by the anger Black Americans feel all these years? Thanks for showing the courage to remind all Americans what indecency still exists in our so-called civilized, Christian society!
Mike Brown, Fort Lauderdale
In regards to your front-page article about the lynching of a black man in 1935, how is that going to improve race relations? I do realize it was a horrible act and these things should never have happened. Buy by publicizing this unforgivable act, you’re just putting gas on an already big fire!
Are you looking to make South Florida into what’s happening in Portland, Rochester and Kenosha? Your article says you want to preserve history, yet your paper is in favor of changing street names that may offend people of color and taking down statues! How is that preserving history? In a quote by Johnny McCray in your article he says, “It’s History. Why should we ignore or deny or conceal our history?”
Your paper is so hypocritical! Just my view!
Artie Hoffmann, Delray Beach
Our standards for America are higher
We all can agree that racism is wrong and that we still have a ways to go to eliminate any vestiges of the old thinking. The thing that bothers me about your and many other articles like yours is that you forget that we are not the only ones that did unspeakable things to minorities in their country. This is not a justification for any past deeds that we have done, but you and many others make it seem as though we are the only ones in world history to mistreat a group of people who are different.
What you do not do is hold those populations to the same standards as you expect of Americans.
We do not lambaste the present countries for the mistreatment of past generations. How about the British in their treatment of India? How about the Japanese for the mistreatment of China? How about South Africans for their treatment of Blacks? And how about the Germans for their slaughter of the Jews? I could go on, but you get the point.
We know what they did, but they do not do it anymore, they know it is wrong and regardless what many people believe, we also have moved past those past indiscretions. Yes, we have problems — some Blacks are mistreated by some cops, and we know that should be stopped. But to write an article about lynching serves no purpose but to inflame an already volatile situation. How about writing of how far we have come?
Marty Goldman, Coconut Creek
Appreciate the early newspaper endorsements, but how other groups?
Most people have already made up their mind who to vote for in the presidential election, but that doesn’t mean they will all fill out their ballots and send them in as soon as they receive them by mail, as the Sun-Sentinel has advocated. There are many other races and constitutional amendments on the ballot that are not as clear cut as the presidential election. Newspaper endorsements are helpful, but I like to study the comments and endorsements by environmental, equality, business and other groups to help me understand the other candidates and issues better before I decide how to vote. I hope these organizations will get their views and endorsements out as soon as possible so we have the benefit of them in time to still vote early enough that our ballots are received and counted.
The roots of Rubin Stacy’s family bloodlineRuby and Norman Lightner Photo of Ms. Pasty Gilley courtesy of Mrs. Irene Shaw Straughter, whose mother was Nettie Stacy Shaw, she was Rubin Stacy sister.
By Mary Russ-Milligan
As I mentioned in an earlier article, my research into my own family history uncovered a link into the heritage of Rubin Stacy, a man who had been unjustly lynched in Fort Lauderdale in 1935.
I not only met several of his bloodline relatives, I was allowed to videotape several of my interviews of people who actually knew Rubin Stacy. People who knew him as an honest, hardworking family man. People who were heartbroken that Rubin has been depicted as a wandering, desperate vagrant for decades.
One of the people that I was fortunate enough to video was Rubin’s niece, Mrs. Irene Shaw Straughter. Although Mrs. Straughter passed away this past December, she was a young girl about seven years old when the incident happened in 1935.
I will always fondly remember the times I spent with Mrs. Irene as she shared her family history with me. She was sweet as a honey bee. Mrs. Irene was the matriarch of the family, but she was not the only one that I had the pleasure of meeting. I also met with Mrs. Irene’s daughters, Ruby Lightner and Sharon Scott and other family members. I am honored that they shared personal, treasured collections of photos. They also shared Family Reunion books and other documents containing information about Rubin Stacy and the family.
In their records, they traced Rubin’s family history back to his grandparents. Rubin was the grandson of a white man that was married to three women at the same time. Two of the women were black and the other was white. Captain Gilley fathered Rubin’s mother by one of his Black wives, Patsy Gilley.
As the grandson of bi-racial grand-parents, Rubin was very close to passing for white himself.
Since Mrs. Irene passed back in December, her daughter Ruby was elected by a group of family members to speak on behalf of her mother.
Like her mother, Ruby wants the truth to be told about her great uncle Rubin Stacey, especially from the perspective of his blood relatives.
“I lost my mother a few months after her interview with you,” Ruby told me. “I will continue to tell my mother’s story.”
Ruby came to Fort Lauderdale late last year, and I was able to introduce her to Commissioner Robert McKenzie. The meeting was videotaped. I shared a photo from the video in an earlier article. During the video Ruby talked about her views about past stories concerning the lynching of Rubin Stacy.
Ruby said she welcomed all family members with respect, love and dignity, but that much of the deep insight into the life of Rubin Stacy was being missed because the close bloodline relatives were not being heard.
She believes that the close bloodline relatives could help clarify the many misconceptions about Rubin Stacy. Ruby and her family would like to know the line of kinship of the people who are being featured in recent publications and events. There are already too many false narratives about Rubin Stacy, and the family members that she represents want to get to the truth.
Ruby also told me that her mother and many of the close family members are disappointed that Broward County was not doing more to release the original records regarding the Rubin Stacy case. They would like to see the records from the time of his arrest, while he was in custody, and his departure. There are a lot of speculations and unlikely narratives in newspapers and other publications, but where are the original records?
The family’s efforts to obtain these records have been fruitless in the past. This has always made them very skeptical about sharing information with politicians and reporters.
To the best of my abilities, and with the consent of the family members who have trusted me with their memories, I am going to present the family’s view of Rubin Stacy as a family man, a hard worker, and as a resident of Fort Lauderdale in Broward County. This is the promise I made to Mrs. Irene.
I will continue to share this perspective in future issues of the Westside Gazette, and in other works that are in progress.
Here’s how the Sun Sentinel decided to show the lynching of Rubin Stacy
Newsroom conversations about whether to publish a shocking historical photo of a lynched Black man in Fort Lauderdale began even before the reporter had finished writing her story.
South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Susannah Bryan was interviewing community leaders this week about their efforts to memorialize the 1935 lynching of Rubin Stacy. Senior news editors meet daily to discuss stories and visuals in the pipeline, and on Wednesday Bryan’s editor let us know this story would be ready for the weekend.
The debate began tentatively as editors absorbed the impact of two photos licensed to us. One showed the dead body of a Black man hanging in a tree as white people, including young children, gawked. Another photo was closely cropped and showed only the tied-up hands of the dead man in the foreground, with close-ups of children’s faces observing. The images were sickening, disturbing.
We had to decide the pros and cons of running the photos and how our readers would react, especially the Black community and Stacy’s descendants. We also had to decide where to place the photos if we ran them — on the front page or inside the paper, embedded in the online article or as the lead image, and whether to provide a warning. A Black editor had been quiet, listening to the debate of her mostly white colleagues, and then weighed in. To paraphrase Sandra King: We must run it, with historical context. Hurts to look at, but important, she said.
Our photo editor did more research on prior use of the photos. The NAACP published them in its journal, then Life magazine. More recently National Geographic included one in a story about lynchings. We asked Bryan to interview Black leaders and descendants, if we could find them, on their views of publishing a photo.
Their strong words clinched our decision to use the full-frame image of the dead Black man hanging in a tree with white people observing. Here is what they said:
Broward County Mayor Dale Holness
For me, I think we really need to face this head on.
For far too long we’ve swept this stuff under the rug.
And then we end up with George Floyd and a police officer murdering him in broad daylight.
And he was cold and callous and paid no regard to the human life he was snuffing out.
Too often we pretend these things didn’t happen.
And you can’t fully heal unless you acknowledge the pain and the suffering.
You have to acknowledge that you have a situation that’s causing you problems. And then you can heal for it.
Ok, this is an excellent overview of the dynamic of saving “sacred white women” by killing black men, pointing out that white women often enthusiastically participated in the process. Well done. But I still think you are mixing apples and oranges here.
First, this series seems to speak about “white women” and “white feminism” as if they are the same thing. They are not. I’m guessing that the white women participating in and even celebrating lynching and their white female privilege are not big human rights leaders of “white feminism.” I’m guessing quite the opposite. They are apologists for white male patriarchy that owns it’s white women.
And, in fairness, if a person has been conditioned to fear a demographic, you cannot really blame them for screaming at the sight of one. For example, as you point out, EVEN IDA B. WELLS was conditioned to believe the “rape myth” about black men was true. Do you condemn Ida for perpetuating “white female privilege” before she wised up?
Also, I don’t think it’s quite fair to fault white women because only a few stood up to lynching (like your admirable namesake). Let’s remember that WHITE WOMEN who challenge white patriarchy and it’s protection of white women are ALSO victims of abuse and violence. White women who did are to be praised, for sure, but I don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn the white women who were silent on the issue any more than it would be fair to condemn blacks who did not speak up about the issue.
Rubin Stacy - History
This Week in History provides brief synopses of important historical events whose anniversaries fall this week.
25 years ago: South Africa in revolt
South African President P.W. Botha declared a state of emergency this week in 1985 in response to mass protests, strikes, and riots among the nation’s black workers and poor. It was the largest rebellion since the upsurge that was drowned in blood in the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960.
The state of emergency, covering Johannesburg and 36 magisterial districts, gave the South African military and police a free hand to use massive repression, indemnifying them in advance for abuses up to and including murder. By July 25, at least 15 blacks had been killed and over 800 arrested.
But this time the ferocity of the state failed to curb the mass revolt, which gripped most of the nation. Tens of thousands showed up for the funerals of martyrs, and workers and youth fought heavily-armed security forces with rocks. This alarmed the country’s propertied blacks and the Western powers, especially the Reagan administration, which encouraged the crackdown.
The insurgent masses were coming into increasing conflict not only with the Apartheid regime, but also with the black elite. Botha, in justifying the emergency decree, said the demonstrations are “mainly directed at the property and persons of law-abiding black people.” For its part the black elite, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, pleaded with the regime to offer reforms. “I am saying to the government . for God’s sake before this country goes up in flames, please hear the voice of the people for justice,” one leading clergyman declared.
50 years ago: Madam Bandaranaike becomes PM of Ceylon
Sirimavo Bandaranaike with Soviet Union
Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was appointed prime minister of Ceylon on July 21, 1960, after national elections in which the LSSP (Lanka Sama Samaja Party), which had abandoned the perspective of Trotskyism, refused to oppose her nationalist grouping, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), or its electoral partner, the Stalinist Communist Party.
Bandaranaike’s was a victory for Ceylonese capitalists who favored the promotion of a local, overwhelmingly Sinhala and Buddhist elite, with a nonaligned foreign policy, as opposed to the pro-Western elites tied to Washington, London, and multinational corporations, who tended to back the right-wing United National Party (UNP). Her victory in no way benefited the island’s working class, which soon found itself at loggerheads with the Bandaranaike government in a major strike wave.
The LSSP adopted a “no contest” policy towards Bandaranaike and the CP that was, for all intents and purposes, an endorsement. It marked a new stage in the degeneration of the party, which had sided in 1954 with the revisionist faction led by Michel Pablo and Ernest Mandel against the orthodox Trotskyists who founded the International Committee of Fourth International. In an unprincipled quid pro quo, the LSSP did not criticize the pro-Stalinist maneuvers of Pablo and Mandel in exchange for a free hand to engage in opportunist tactics in Ceylon—including tacit alliances with chauvinist Sinhala political forces.
The LSSP’s support proved critical in propping up the Colombo regime, which had weathered a series of crises, beginning with the mass “hartal” demonstrations and strikes of 1953 that brought down the UNP government of Dudley Shelton Senanayake, the assassination of Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike, husband of Sirimavo, in 1959, and the collapse after just four months of another UNP government in 1960.
75 years ago: The lynching of Rubin Stacy
On July 19, 1935, a 37-year old African-American tenant farmer named Rubin Stacy was lynched in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. According to initial reports of Stacy’s murder, a mob of masked, white men took Stacy from the custody of six sheriff’s deputies who were transporting him to the Dade County jail in Miami. The mob hanged Stacy from a tree near the home of Marion Jones, the 30-year-old white woman who had accused him of assaulting her with a knife.
As was often the case in “southern justice,” both the pretext for the lynching and alleged details of the lynching itself were a tissue of lies. Stacy, who was reportedly homeless, had likely only gone to Jones’ home asking for something to eat or drink. Moreover, Stacy was not “kidnapped” from the deputies’ custody. Instead the killing was organized and ordered by Chief Deputy Bob Clark and other deputies, as eyewitness accounts revealed later. Clark even passed around his service revolver during the murder so that onlookers could shoot at Stacy’s body.
During the time of Stacy’s murder, new anti-lynching legislation known as the Costigan-Wagner Bill was being debated in the US Congress, which would have allowed for the federal prosecution of law enforcement officials who permitted or aided in a lynching within their jurisdiction. President Roosevelt refused to support the bill, even after the brutal lynching of Stacy at the hands of sheriff’s deputies in Florida, fearing that he would lose the Southern vote in the coming election. The Costigan-Wagner Bill was eventually defeated.
The Tuskegee Institute reports a total of 4,742 lynchings in the United States between 1882 and 1968.
100 years ago: Massive suffragette demonstration in London
An imprisoned suffragette being force-fed
Tens of thousands of “suffragettes”—advocates of women’s right to vote—marched on London’s Hyde Park on July 23, 1910. Speakers addressed the demonstration from 40 different platforms in Hyde Park, where two separate marches had earlier converged, one originating from the Thames embankment and the other starting off from Holland Park.
A leading organization behind the demonstration was the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), whose motto “Deeds, not Words,” was indicative of a more confrontational approach with state authorities than the mainline National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Arrested WSPU women, mainly of upper and middle class background, had begun hunger strikes in prison in 1908 and 1909. British authority’s decision to force-feed the strikers shocked public consciousness.
Foreign delegations were led by a party of suffragettes from the US, which marched under banners reading “Idaho,” “Utah,” “Wyoming,” and “Colorado”—the four states that had by then granted women the right to vote. Finland, Australia, and New Zealand were then the only countries where women could vote.
The date July 23 was chosen to mark the Hyde Park Men’s Franchise Demonstration of 1866, when hundreds of thousands of workers held off British police and military personnel ordered to shut down the gathering, which the Tory home secretary, Spencer Walpole, had declared illegal. That demonstration resulted in the Second Reform Act of 1866, granting much of the male working class population the right to vote, which had largely been restricted to propertied males.