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They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial Violence from Emancipation to World War I

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Shares wrenching accounts of the everyday violence experienced by emancipated African Americans

Well after slavery was abolished, its legacy of violence left deep wounds on African Americans’ bodies, minds, and lives. For many victims and witnesses of the assaults, rapes, murders, nightrides, lynchings, and other bloody acts that followed, the suffering this violence engendered was at once too painful to put into words yet too horrible to suppress.

In this evocative and deeply moving history Kidada Williams examines African Americans’ testimonies about racial violence. By using both oral and print culture to testify about violence, victims and witnesses hoped they would be able to graphically disseminate enough knowledge about its occurrence and inspire Americans to take action to end it. In the process of testifying, these people created a vernacular history of the violence they endured and witnessed, as well as the identities that grew from the experience of violence. This history fostered an oppositional consciousness to racial violence that inspired African Americans to form and support campaigns to end violence. The resulting crusades against racial violence became one of the political training grounds for the civil rights movement.

ISBN-13: 9780814795361

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: New York University Press

Publication Date: 03-12-2012

Pages: 293

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Kidada E. Williams is Assistant Professor of African American history at Wayne State University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 "The Special Object of Hatred and Persecution": The Terror of Emancipation 17

2 "A Long Series of Oppression, Injustice, and Violence": The Purgatory of Sectional Reconciliation 55

3 "Lynched, Burned Alive, Jim-Crowed... in My Country": Shaping Responses to the Descent to Hell 101

4 "If You Can, the Colored Needs Help": Reaching Out from Local Communities 145

5 "It Is Not for Us to Run Away from Violence": Fueling the NAACP's Antilynching Crusade 181

Epilogue: Closer to the Promised Land 221

Notes 225

Works Cited 257

Index 271

About the Author 281