HISTORY: Black Women who were Lynched in America > Henrietta Vinton Davis's Weblog

Black Women who were

Lynched in America

The lynching of Laura Nelson

(partial list)

Printed as a community service by Dr. Daniel Meaders, Professor of History at William Patterson University, and author of several books and articles, including Dead or Alive, Fugitive Slaves and White Indentured Servants Before 1800 (Garland Press, 1993)

*** If you think what you are about to read is important, please leave us a comment below and share your thoughts. We want to know what led you to search for this information. It has been getting a lot of attention lately and we value your input.

Jennie Steers
On July 25, 1903 a mob lynched Jennie Steers on the Beard Plantation in Louisiana for supposedly giving a white teenager, 16 year-old Elizabeth Dolan, a glass of poisoned lemonade. Before they killed her, the mob tried to force her to confess but she refused and was hanged. (100 Years at Lynching. Ralph Ginzburg)

Laura Nelson
Laura Nelson was lynched on May 23, 1911 In Okemah, Okluskee, Oklahoma. Her fifteen year old son was also lynched at the same time but I could not find a photo of her son. The photograph of Nelson was drawn from a postcard. Authorities accused her of killing a deputy sheriff who supposedly stumbled on some stolen goods in her house. Why they lynched her child is a mystery. The mob raped and dragged Nelson six miles to the Canadian River and hanged her from a bridge.(NAACP: One Hundred Years of Lynching in the US 1889-1918 )

Ann Barksdale or Ann Bostwick
The lynchers maintained that Ann Barksdale or Ann Bostwlck killed her female employer in Pinehurst, Georgia on June 24, 1912. Nobody knows if or why Barksdale or Bostick killed her employer because there was no trial and no one thought to take a statement from this Black woman who authorities claimed had ”violent fits of insanity” and should have been placed in a hospital. Nobody was arrested and the crowd was In a festive mood. Placed in a car with a rope around her neck, and the other end tied to a tree limb, the lynchers drove at high speed and she was strangled to death. For good measure the mob shot her eyes out and shot enough bullets Into her body that she was “cut in two.”

Marie Scott
March 31, 1914, a white mob of at least a dozen males, yanked seventeen year-old Marie Scott from jail, threw a rope over her head as she screamed and hanged her from a telephone pole in Wagoner County, Oklahoma. What happened? Two drunken white men barged Into her house as she was dressing. They locked themselves in her room and criminally “assaulted” her. Her brother apparently heard her screams for help, kicked down the door, killed one assailant and fled. Some accounts state that the assailant was stabbed. Frustrated by their inability to lynch Marie Scott’s brother the mob lynched Marie Scott. (Crisis 1914 and 100 Years of Lynching)

Mary Turner 1918 Eight Months Pregnant
Mobs lynched Mary Turner on May 17, 1918 in Lowndes County. Georgia because she vowed to have those responsible for killing her husband arrested. Her husband was arrested in connection with the shooting and killing Hampton Smith, a white farmer for whom the couple had worked, and wounding his wife. Sidney Johnson. a Black, apparently killed Smith because he was tired of the farmer’s abuse. Unable to find Johnson. the killers lynched eight other Blacks Including Hayes Turner and his wife Mary. The mob hanged Mary by her feet, poured gasoline and oil on her and set fire to her body. One white man sliced her open and Mrs. Turner’s baby tumbled to the ground with a “little cry” and the mob stomped the baby to death and sprayed bullets into Mary Turner. (NAACP: Thirty Years of Lynching in the U.S. 1889-1918  )

Maggie Howze and Alma Howze -Both Pregnant
Accused of the murder of Dr. E.L. Johnston in December 1918. Whites lynched Andrew Clark, age 15, Major Clark, age 20, Maggie Howze, age 20, and Alma Howze, age 16 from a bridge near Shutaba, a town in Mississippi. The local press described Johnston as being a wealthy dentist, but he did not have an established business in the true sense of the word. He sought patients by riding his buggy throughout the community offering his services to the public at large in Alabama. Unable to make money “peddling” dentistry, the dentist returned to Mississippi to work on his father’s land near Shabuta. During his travels he had developed an intimate relationship with Maggie Howze. a Black woman who he had asked to move and lived with him. He also asked that she bring her sister Alma Howze along. While using the Black young women as sexual objects Johnson impregnated both of them though he was married and had a child. Three Black laborers worked on Johnston’s plantation, two of whom were brothers, Major and Andrew Clark. Major tried to court Maggie, but Johnson was violently opposed to her trying to create a world of her own that did not include him. To block a threat to his sexual fiefdom, Johnston threaten Clark’s life. Shortly after Johnston turned up dead and the finger was pointed at Major Clark and the Howze sisters. The whites picked up Major, his brother, Maggie and her sister and threw them in jail. To extract a confession from Major Clark, the authorities placed his testicles between the “jaws of a vise” and slowly closed it until Clark admitted that he killed Johnston. White community members took the four Blacks out of jail, placed them in an automobile, turned the head lights out and headed to the lynching site. Eighteen other cars, carrying members of the mob, followed close behind. Someone shut the power plant down and the town fell into darkness. Ropes were placed around the necks of the four Blacks and the other ends tied to the girder of the bridge. Maggie Howze cried, “I ain’t guilty of killing the doctor and you oughtn’t to kill me.” Someone took a monkey wrench and “struck her In the mouth with It, knocking her teeth out. She was also hit across the head with the same instrument, cutting a long gash In which the side of a person’s hand could be placed.” While the three other Blacks were killed instantly, Maggie Howze, four months pregnant, managed to grab the side of the bridge to break her fall. She did this twice before she died and the mob joked about how difficult it was to kill that “big Jersey woman.” No one stepped forward to claim the bodies. No one held funeral services for the victims. The Black community demanded that the whites cut them down and bury them because they ‘lynched them.” The whites placed them in unmarked graves.

Alma Howze was on the verge of giving birth when the whites killed her. One witness claimed that at her “burial on the second day following, the movements of her unborn child could be detected.” Keep in mind, Johnston’s parents felt that the Blacks had nothing to do with their son’s death and that some irate white man killed him, knowing that the blame would fall on the Black’s shoulders. The indefatigable Walter White, NAACP secretary, visited the scene of the execution and crafted the report. He pressed Governor Bilbo of Mississippi to look into the lynching and Bilbo told the NAACP to go to hell. (NAACP: Thirty Years of Lynching in the U.S.. 1889-1918 ) (Papers of the NAACP)

Holbert Burnt at the Stake
Luther Holbert, a Black, supposedly killed James Eastland, a wealthy planter and John Carr, a negro, who lived near Doddsville Mississippi. After a hundred mile chase over four days, the mob of more than 1,000 persons caught Luther and his wife and tied them both to trees. They were forced to hold out their hands while one finger at a time was chopped off and their ears were cut off. Pieces of raw quivering flesh was pulled out of their arms, legs and body with a bore screw and kept for souvenirs. Holbert was beaten and his skull fractured. An eye was knocked out with a stick and hung from the socket. (100 Years of Lynching by Ralph Ginzburg)

American mobs lynched some 5.000 Blacks since 1859, scores of whom were women, several of them pregnant. Rarely did the killers spend time in jail because the white mobs and the government officials who protected them believed justice meant (just us) white folks. Lynching denied Blacks the right to a trial or the right to due process. No need for a lawyer and a jury of your peers: the white community decided what happened and what ought to be done. After the whites accused Laura Nelson of killing a white deputy In Oklahoma, they raped this Black woman, tied her to a bridge trestle and for good measure, They lynched her son from a telephone pole. Had the white community reacted in horror after viewing the dangling corpses of Laura Nelson and her son? No, they came by the hundreds, making their way by cars, horse driven wagons, and by foot to view the lynching. Dressed in their Sunday best, holding their children’s hands and hugging their babies the white on-lookers looked forward to witnessing the spectacle of a modern day crucifixion. They snapped pictures of Laura Nelson, placed them on postcards and mailed them to their friends boasting about the execution. They chopped of f the fingers, sliced off the ears of Ms. Holbert, placed the parts In jars of alcohol and displayed them in their windows.

White America today know little or nothing about lynching because it contradicts every value America purports to stand for. Blacks, too, know far too little about the lynchings because the subject is rarely taught in school. Had they known more about these lynchings, I am almost certain that Blacks would have taken anyone to task, including gangster rappers, for calling themselves niggers or calling Black women “hoes” and “bitches.” How could anybody in their right mind call these Black women who were sexually abused, mutilated, tortured and mocked the same degrading Please do not throw this away. Give it to a friend or a names that the psychopathic lynchers called them? relative. Peace.

What Black woman in her right state of mind would snap her fingers or tap her feet toihe beat of a song that contained the same degrading remarks that the whites uttered when they raped and lynched them The lynchers and the thousands of gleeful spectators called these Black women niggers when they captured them, niggers when they placed the rope around their necks and niggers when their necks snapped. Whites viewed Black women as hated black things, for, how else can one explain the treatment of Mary Turner? The lynch mob ignored her cries for mercy, ripped off her clothes, tied her ankles together, turned her upside down, doused her naked body with gas and oil, set her naked body on fire, ripped her baby out of her, stomped the child to death and laughed about it. Blacks purchased Winchesters to protect themselves, staged demonstrations, created anti-lynching organizations, pushed for anti-lynching legislation and published articles and books attacking the extralegal violence. Many pocked up. left the community never to return again. Others went through bouts of sadness, despair, and grief. Some broke down, a few went insane. Others probably fell on their knees, put their hands together, closed their eyes and begged Jesus for help. Jesus help us. Do not forsake us. But Jesus. the same white man the lyncher’s ancestors taught us to love, never flew out of the bush in a flame of fire armed with frogs and files and locusts to save Mary Turner. No thunder, no rain, no hail and no fire blocked the lynchers from hanging Laura Nelson. He did not see the “affliction” of the Holberts; he did not hear the screams of Marie Scott or the cry of Jennifer Steers.

So who are our real heroes?. Little Kim Is not a hero. Oprah is not a hero.. Whoople Goldberg is not a hero. Michael Jordan is not a hero. Dennis Rodman Is not a hero. They are entertainers, sport figures. creations of the media, media icons and they are about making huge sums of money and we wish these enterprising stars well. . Mary Turner, Laura Nelson, Marie Scott and Jennie Steers are your true historical heroes. Niggers they were not. Bitches they were not. Hoes they were not. They will not go down in history for plastering their bodies with tattoos, inventing exotic diets, endorsing Gator Ade, embracing studIo gangsterism, They were strong beautiful Black women who suffered excruciating pain, died horrible deaths. Their legacy of -strength lives on. These are my heroes. Make them yours as well.

Below are women who were lynched in addition to the initial findings of Dr. Daniel Meaders. They can be found in the pages of the book 100 Years of Lynching by Ralph Ginzburg.

Mae Murray Dorsey and Dorothy Malcolm
On July 25, 1946, four young African Americans—George & Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger & Dorothy Malcom—were shot hundreds of times by 12 to 15 unmasked white men in broad daylight at the Moore’s Ford bridge spanning the Apalachee River, 60 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia. These killings, for which no one was ever prosecuted, enraged President Harry Truman and led to historic changes, but were quickly forgotten in Oconee and Walton Counties where they occurred. No one was ever brought to justice for the crime.

Ballie Crutchfield
Around midnight on March 15, 1901 Ballie Crutchfield was taken from her home in Rome to a bridge over Round Lick Creek by a mob. There her hands were tied behind her, and she was shot through the head and then thrown in the creek. Her body was recovered the next day and an inquest found that she met her death at the hands of persons unknown (euphemism for lynching).

After Walter Sampson lost a pocketbook containing $120, it was found by a little boy. As he went to return it to its owner, William Crutchfield, Ballie’s brother, met the boy. Apparently, the boy gave him the pocketbook after being convinced it had no value. Sampson had Crutchfield arrested and taken to the house of one Squire Bains.

A mob came to take Crutchfield for execution. On the way he broke lose and escaped in the dark. The mob was so blind with rage they lay blame on Ballie as a co-conspirator in her brother’s alleged crime and proceeded to enact upon their beliefs culminating in the aforementioned orgy of inhumanity.

Belle Hathaway
At 9 o’clock the night of January 23, 1912 100 men congregated in front of the Hamilton, Georgia courthouse. They then broke into the Harris County Jail. After overpowering Jailor E.M. Robinson they took three men and a woman one mile from town.

Belle Hathaway, John Moore, Eugene Hamming, and “Dusty” Cruthfield were in jail after being charged with the shooting death a farmer named Norman Hadley.

Writhing bodies silhouetted against the sky as revolvers and rifles blazed forth a cacophony of 300 shots at the victims before the mob dispersed.

Sullivan Couple Hung as Deputy Sheriff and Posse Watch
Fred Sullivan and his wife were hanged after being accused of burning a barn on a plantation near Byhalia, Mississippi November 25, 1914. The deputy sheriff and his posse were forced to watch the proceedings.

Cordella Stevenson Raped and Lynched
Wednesday, December 8, 1915 Cordella Stevenson was hung from the limb of a tree without any clothing about fifty yards north of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad outside Columbus, Mississippi. The gruesomely horrific scene was witnessed by thousands and thousands of passengers who traveled in and out of the city the next morning.

She was hung there by a bloodthirsty mob who had taken her from slumber, husband and home to the spot where she was raped and lynched. All this was done after she had been brought to the police station for questioning in connection with the arson of Gabe Frank’s barn. Her son had been suspected of the fire. The police released her after she convinced them her son had left home several months prior and she did not know his whereabouts.

After going to bed early, a knock was heard at the door. Her husband, Arch Stevenson went to answer, but the door was broken down first and his wife was seized. He was threatened with rifle barrels to his head should he move.

The body was left hanging until Friday morning. An inquest returned a verdict of “death at the hands of persons unknown.”

5 Hanged on One Oak Tree
Three men and two women were taken from the jail in Newberry, Florida on August 19, 1916 and hanged by a mob. Another man was shot by deputy sheriffs near Jonesville, Florida. All this was the result of the killing the day prior of Constable S.G. Wynne and the shooting of Dr. L.G. Harris by Boisey Long. Those who were lynched had been accused of aiding Long in his escape.

Mary Conley
After Sam Conley had been reprimanded by E.M. Melvin near Arlington, Georgia, his mother Mary intervened to express her resentment. After Melvin slapped and grappled with her, Sam Conley struck Melvin on the head with an iron scale weight, resulting in his death shortly afterward.

Although Sam escaped, his mother was captured and jailed. She was taken from the jail at Leary and her body was riddled with bullets. Her remains were found along the roadside by parties entering into Arlington the next morning.

Bertha Lowman
Demon Lowman, Bertha Lowman, and their cousin Clarence Lowman were in the Aiken, South Carolina jail when it was raided by a mob early on October 8, 1926. The three had been in jail for a year and a half while they were tried for the murder of Sheriff and Klansman Henry H.H. Howard. Howard was shot in the back while raiding the house of Sam Lowman, father to Bertha and Demon. Klansmen filed by Howard’s body two-by-two when it laid in state. A year after his funeral a cross was burned in the cemetery at his grave.

Although the Lowman’s were tried and sentenced to death, a State Supreme Court reversed the findings and ordered a new trial. Demon had just been found not guilty when the raid on the jail occurred. Taken to a pine thicket just beyond the city limits their bodies were riddled with bullets.

The events which resulted in this lynching are surreal to say the least. Samuel Lowman was away from home at a mill having meal ground on April 25, 1925. Sheriff Howard and three deputies appeared at the Lowman Cabin three miles from Aiken. Annie Lowman, Samuel’s wife and their daughter Bertha were out back of the house working. Their family had never been in any kind of trouble. They did not know the sheriff and he did not know them. Furthermore, they were not wearing any uniform or regalia depicting them as law enforcers. Hence the alarming state of mind they had when four white men entered their yard unannounced, even if it was on a routine whiskey check. It was even more distressing because a group of white men had come to the house a few weeks earlier and whipped Demon for no reason at all. After speaking softly to each other the women decided to go in the house.

When the men saw the women move towards the house they drew their revolvers and rushed forward. Sheriff Howard reached the back step at the same time as Bertha. He struck her in the mouth with his pistol butt. Mrs. Lowman picked up an axe and rushed to her daughter’s aid. A deputy emptied his revolver into the old woman killing her.

Demon and Clarence were working in a nearby field when they heard Bertha’s scream. Demon retrieved a pistol from a shed while Clarence armed himself with a shotgun. The deputies shot at Demon, who returned fire. Clarence’s actions are not clear. When it was all over a few seconds later the Sheriff was dead. Bertha had received two gunshots to the chest just above her heart. Clarence and Demon were wounded also. In total five members of the Lowman family were in put jail.

Samuel Lowman returned to find in his absence he had become a widower with four of his children in jail along with his nephew. In three days he would be charged with harboring illegal liquor when a quarter of a bottle of the substance is found in his backyard. For that the elderly farmer was sentenced to two years on the chain gang.

18 year old Bertha, 22 year old Demon and 15 year old Clarence were tried for the Sheriff’s murder and swiftly found guilty. The men were sentenced to death with Bertha given a life sentence.

Demon’s acquittal made it appear that Clarence and Bertha would been freed as well. The day they were murdered they were taken from the jail, driven to a tourist a few miles from town and set loose. As they ran they were shot down.

Mr. Lowman contended one of the deputies who coveted the Sheriff’s job was his real killer. The same man later led the mob which slew Lowman’s children and nephew. Apparently, he knew they could identify him as the culprit.



Recorded Cases of Black Female

Lynching Victims 1886-1957:

More on Black Women

Who Were Lynched

The lynching of Laura Nelson

After seeing the connection between Henrietta Vinton Davis and Black Women who was lynched (they have no markers on their graves) posted Dr. Daniel Meaders’ pamphlet on Black Women Who Were Lynched in America.  Reading that caused me to wonder if more women were lynched than Dr. Meaders found.

That led to the revelation of  “STRANGER FRUIT”: THE LYNCHING OF BLACK WOMEN THE CASES OF ROSA RICHARDSON AND MARIE SCOTT”by MARIA DELONGORIA. The information below is extracted from Appendix A: Recorded Cases of Black Female Lynching Victims 1886-1957. This list indicates approximately one hundred and fifty four women who were lynched.

m= mother d=daughter s=son f=father c=cousin w=wife h=husband #=age of victim b=brother s1=sister

* some sexually related aspect (evidence of rape, sexual assault and/or ‘relationship’)

** approximate date

Lynched with
County/City State
Sept Mrs. John Simes   Henry Co KY Republican
Nov Mrs. Hawkins (m)   Fayette Co KY Republican
  —– Hawkins (d)   Fayette Co KY Republican
May Mrs. Ben French   Warsaw KY murder
4 Nov Maria Smith   Hernando MS murder
29 July Milly Thompson   Clayton GA  
6 Dec Julia Brandt (15) Joe BarnesVance Brandt Charleston SC theft/murder
*4 Sept Ann (Eliza) Cowan (35)   Newberry SC arson
29 Sept Harriet Finch Jerry FinchJohn PattishalLee Tyson Chatham Co NC murder
Sept —–   Cummins Pulaski KY  
25 July Mary Hollenbeck   Tattnall GA murder
18 Aug Eliza Wood   Madison TN murder
28 April Gracy Blanton   W. Carroll LA theft
15 April Roxie Elliott   Centerville AL  
9 May Mrs. Lee   Lowndes MS son accused of murder
1 Aug Eliza Lowe   Henry AL arson
  Ella Williams   Henry AL arson
28 Sept Louise Stevenson Grant White Hollandale MS murder
3 Feb Mrs. Martin   Sumner Co TN son accused of arson
10 Feb Mrs. Brisco(w)   AK race prejudice
10 Feb Jessie Dillingham   Smokeyville TX train wrecking
11 March Ella (15)   Rayville LA attempted murder/poisoning
2 Nov Mrs. Hastings(m) son (16) Jonesville LA husband accused
  Hastings(d,14)   Jonesville LA father accused of murder
21 Dec Cora   Guthrie,Indian Territory  
19 March Jessie Jones   Jellico TN murder
18 July Meredith Lewis   Roseland LA murder
15 Sept Emma Fair Paul HillPaul ArcherWilliam Archer Carrolton AL arson
16 Sept Louisa Carter (Lou)(m)   Jackson MS poisoning a well
  Mahala Jackson (d)   Jackson MS poisoning a well
Nov Mrs. Phil Evens (m)   Bardstown KY  
  Evans (d)   Bardstown KY  
  Evans (d)   Bardstown KY  
4 Nov Mary (Eliza) Motlow   Lynchburg VA arson
9 Nov Rilla Weaver   Clarendon AK  
6 March unknown Negro woman   Pulaski AK  
16 July Marion Howard   Scottsville KY  
24 July Negro woman   Simpson Co MS race prejudice
20 March Harriet Tally   Petersburg TN arson
21 April Mary Deane   Greenville AL murder
  Alice Green   Greenville AL murder
  Martha Green   Greenville AL murder
1 July Mollie Smith   Trigg County KY  
20 July Mrs. Abe Phillips (m) unnamed child (1)Hannah Phillips (d) Mant TX  
23 July Negro woman   Brenham TX  
2 Aug Mrs. James Mason (w) James Mason (h) Dangerfield TX  
*28 Aug Negro woman   Simpson MS miscegenation
26 Sept Felicia Francis   New Orleans LA  
11 Oct Catherine Matthews   Baton Rouge LA poisoning
2 Dec Hannah Kearse (Walker,m)Isom K. (s) Colleton SC stealing a bible
*12 Jan Charlotte Morris   Jefferson LA miscegenation/living with white “husband”
1 Aug Isadora Morely   Selma AL murder
18 Nov Mimm Collier   Steenston MS  
9 Feb Negro woman   Carrolton MS theft/arson
5 March Otea Smith   Julietta FL murder
12 May Amanda Franks   Jefferson AL murder
  Molly White   Jefferson AL murder
22 Feb Dora Baker (d,2)Frazier Baker(f) Williamsburg SC race prejudice
9 Nov Rose Etheridge   Phoenix SC murder
13 Nov Eliza Goode   Greenwood SC murder
189923 March Willia Boyd   Silver City MS  
2 March Mrs. Jim Cross (m)   Lowndes AL  
  Cross (d)   Lowndes AL  
7 July Lizzie Pool   Hickory Plains AK race prejudice
25 July Anna Mabry   New Orleans LA race prejudice
28 Aug Negro woman Negro man Forrest City NC theft of peaches
5 March Ballie Crutchfield   Rome TN theft
20 March Terry Bell   Terry MS  
1 Aug Betsey McCray (m) Belfiield (s) Carrolton MS knowledge of murder
  Ida McCray (d)   Carrolton MS knowledge of murder
4 Oct Negro woman   Marshall TX assault
15 Feb Bell Duly   Fulton KY  
27 Dec Mrs.Emma Wideman Oliver Wideman Troy SC murder
  Negro woman     murder of Mrs. Frank Matthews
8 June Negro woman Negro men (4) Smith County MS murder
24 June Lamb Whittle   Concordia LA  
*25 July Jennie Steers   Beard Plantation, Shreveport LA murder by poison
28 Oct Jennie McCall   Hamilton FL by mistake
7 Feb Holbert (w) Luther Holbert Doddsville MS burning barn
*14 June Marie Thompson   Lebanon Junction KY murder
30 August unknown   Bates Union AK  
7 Nov Meta Hicks   Mitchell GA husband accused of murder
20 March Negro woman   Stamps AK  
  Negro woman   Stamps AK  
21 May Mrs. Padgett (m) Son Tattnall GA son accused of rape
  Padgett (d)   Tattnall GA brother accused of rape
3 Oct Mrs. D. Walker (m)   Fulton KY race hatred
  Walker (d)   Fulton KY race hatred
9 Feb Robby Baskin   Houston MS murder
30 July Emile Antione   Grand Prairie LA assault
April 5 Laura Mitchell   Lonoke AK murder
*25 Aug Laura Porter   Monroe LA disreputable house
*25 May Laura Nelson L.D. (14)(s) Okemah OK murder
2 Sept Hattie Bowman Ed Christian Greenville FL theft
** Pettigrew (d) Ben Pettigrew (f) Savannah TN  
** Pettigrew (d)   Savannah TN  
  Negro woman   Codele GA  
*23 Jan Belle Hathaway John MooreEugene HammingDusty Cruthfield Hamilton GA tenants of murdered man
11 Feb Negro woman Negro children (3) Beaumont TX  
13 Feb Mary Jackson George Saunders Marshall TX  
25 June Ann Boston   Pinehurst GA murder
13 Mar** Mrs. Joe Perry (m,w) Joe Perry (h)SonChild Henderson NC  
*31 Mar Marie Scott (17)   Muskogee OK murder
28 May/June** Jennie Collins   Shaw MS aiding in escape
17 June Paralee Collins (m) Issac (s) West Plains MO  
*12 July Rosa Richardson (27-35)   Providence/Santee SC murder
25 Nov Jane Sullivan (w) Fred Sullivan (h) Byhalia MS burning a barn
15 Jan Eula Charles (Barber,d)Dan Barber (f) Jasper County GA parents accused of bootlegging
  Ella Charles (Barber,d)Jesse Barber(b) Jasper County GA parents accused of bootlegging
May Briley   Pescott AK  
17 Aug Hope Hull   AL  
*8 Dec Cordella Stevenson   Columbus MS  
19 Aug Mary Dennis   Newberry FL aiding in escape
  Stella Long   Newberry FL aiding in escape
4 Oct** Mary Conley   Arlington GA complicity in murder
1 March Emma Hooper   Hammond LA murder
17 May Mary Turner (pregnant)   Brooks Co GA taught a lesson
4 June Sarah Cabiness unnamed children(2)Bessie Cabiness(d)Pete (s)Tenola Cabiness(d)Cute Cabiness (d) Huntsville TX threatening white man
4 Sept Mrs. James Eyer   Marion GA  
*21 Dec Alma House (pregnant) Andrew Clark Shubuta MS murder
5 May unknown Negro woman   Holmes MS race prejudice
2 Nov unknown Negro woman   Ocoee FL race prejudice
18 Nov Minnie Ivory Willie IvoryWill Perry Douglass GA murder
9 April Rachel Moore   Rankin MS race prejudice
25 June Mercy Hall   Oklahoma City OK strike activity
5 Jan Sarah Carrier   Rosewood FL race prejudice
  Lesty Gordon   Rosewood FL race prejudice
29 Sept Negro woman   Pickens MS  
31 Sept Negro woman   Holmes MS race prejudice
23 June Penny Westmoreland Marcus Westmoreland Spalding GA  
19 July —– Sheldon   Meridian MS  
11 Sept Sarah Williams   Shreveport LA  
*25 April Annie Lowman (m)   Aiken SC defending her daughter
25 April Lily Cobb   Birmingham AL  
25 May Eliza Bryant   Duplin NC success
8 Oct Bertha Lowman(d,s1) Demon (b) Aiken SC lynched after acquitted of murder
11 Nov Sally Brown Clarence (c) Houston TX  
25 Dec Negro woman (1)   Eros LA dispute w/ whites
  Negro woman (2)   Eros LA dispute w/whites
12 Feb Laura Wood   Salisbury NC  
5 July Viola Dial (pregnant)   Narketta MS race prejudice
6 July Mrs. James Eyers (w)   Markeeta MS race prejudice
10 Sept Holly White Pigg Lockett Scooba MS  
May Mrs. Wise   Frankfort VA resisting Klan
*25 July Dorothy Malcolm(w) Roger Malcolm (h) Monroe GA able to identify mob members
  Mae Dorsey (w) George Dorsey (h) Monroe GA able to identify mob members
*25 March Angenora Spencer   Hyde NC miscegenation
18 Nov Mrs. Frank Clay   Henderson NC dispute

*Crystal Nicole Femister has a similar chart in the Appendix of her dissertation “Ladies and Lynching”: The Gendered Discourse of Mob Violence in the New South, 1880-1930. Having used overlapping sources accounts for similarities although there are differences in categories, variations of names, locations and some of the other content.

>via: http://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/recorded/


notesonascandal:  eternallybeautifullyblack:  Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching  Between 1880 and 1930, close to 200 women were murdered by lynch mobs in the American South. Many more were tarred and feathered, burned, whipped, or raped. In this brutal world of white supremacist politics and patriarchy, a world violently divided by race, gender, and class, black and white women defended themselves and challenged the male power brokers. Crystal Feimster breaks new ground in her story of the racial politics of the postbellum South by focusing on the volatile issue of sexual violence. Pairing the lives of two Southern women—Ida B. Wells, who fearlessly branded lynching a white tool of political terror against southern blacks, and Rebecca Latimer Felton, who urged white men to prove their manhood by lynching black men accused of raping white women—Feimster makes visible the ways in which black and white women sought protection and political power in the New South. While Wells was black and Felton was white, both were journalists, temperance women, suffragists, and anti-rape activists. By placing their concerns at the center of southern politics, Feimster illuminates a critical and novel aspect of southern racial and sexual dynamics. Despite being on opposite sides of the lynching question, both Wells and Felton sought protection from sexual violence and political empowerment for women. Southern Horrors provides a startling view into the Jim Crow South where the precarious and subordinate position of women linked black and white anti-rape activists together in fragile political alliances. It is a story that reveals how the complex drama of political power, race, and sex played out in the lives of Southern women.   This is going on my To-Read list RIGHT NOW.



Southern Horrors:

Women and the Politics of

Rape and Lynching

Between 1880 and 1930, close to 200 women were murdered by lynch mobs in the American South. Many more were tarred and feathered, burned, whipped, or raped. In this brutal world of white supremacist politics and patriarchy, a world violently divided by race, gender, and class, black and white women defended themselves and challenged the male power brokers. Crystal Feimster breaks new ground in her story of the racial politics of the postbellum South by focusing on the volatile issue of sexual violence.

Pairing the lives of two Southern women—Ida B. Wells, who fearlessly branded lynching a white tool of political terror against southern blacks, and Rebecca Latimer Felton, who urged white men to prove their manhood by lynching black men accused of raping white women—Feimster makes visible the ways in which black and white women sought protection and political power in the New South. While Wells was black and Felton was white, both were journalists, temperance women, suffragists, and anti-rape activists. By placing their concerns at the center of southern politics, Feimster illuminates a critical and novel aspect of southern racial and sexual dynamics. Despite being on opposite sides of the lynching question, both Wells and Felton sought protection from sexual violence and political empowerment for women.

Southern Horrors  provides a startling view into the Jim Crow South where the precarious and subordinate position of women linked black and white anti-rape activists together in fragile political alliances. It is a story that reveals how the complex drama of political power, race, and sex played out in the lives of Southern women.

This is going on my To-Read list RIGHT NOW.

(via posttragicmulatto)

>via: http://knowledgeequalsblackpower.tumblr.com/post/46779026522/notesonascandal-... 






VIDEO: Thelonious Monk, Legendary Jazz Pianist, Revealed in 1968 Cinéma Vérité Film > Open Culture

Thelonious Monk,

Legendary Jazz Pianist,

Revealed in

1968 Cinéma Vérité Film


Thelonious Monk’s personality was as quirky and original as his piano playing. An elusive, insular figure, Monk was nevertheless persuaded in late 1967 to allow a camera crew to follow him around over an extended period of time for a West German television documentary. The film, Monk (shown above in its entirety), is a fascinating up-close look at one of the giants of Jazz.

The 55-minute movie was shot by the American filmmakers Michael and Christian Blackwood for the networks NDR (North German Broadcasting) and WDR (West German Broadcasting). The Blackwood brothers had unprecedented access to Monk over a six-month period in late 1967 and early 1968, as he and his quartet performed and recorded in New York, Atlanta and Europe. The quartet includes Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums. Although there are a few brief passages of untranslated German narration, the film is basically a cinéma vérité piece on Monk (who speaks English) and his remarkable music.

The Blackwood brothers’ footage, which Stephen Holden of The New York Times called “some of the most valuable jazz sequences ever shot,” later became the nucleus of a longer 1988 documentary produced by Clint Eastwood. You can watch that film and learn more about it in our 2011 post, “Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser.”


VIDEO + AUDIO: Omar Sosa Gets 'Kind Of' Blue > Soundcheck

Omar Sosa Gets

'Kind Of' Blue

Watch the pianist perform 'Calling Eggun' in the Soundcheck studio.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Omar Sosa performs in the Soundcheck studio.Omar Sosa performs in the Soundcheck studio. (Amy Pearl / WNYC)

On his latest record, the Grammy-nominated composer and pianist Omar Sosa pays tribute to Miles Davis’ 1959 masterpiece Kind Of Blue, without including a single song from the original. Instead, the album, Eggun, is a tribute to the spirit of Davis. Hear Sosa talk about the new project -- and perform songs live in the studio.

>via: http://soundcheck.wnyc.org/2013/jan/25/omar-sosa/#

PUB: Submit : Passager Press


Welcome to Passager! We publish two issues a year, an Open Issue (fall/winter), and a Poetry Contest issue(spring/summer). We urge you to become familiar with Passager before submitting work. Browse some previously published work, or order sample copies. All entries may be mailed to:

Passager, 1420 N. Charles St, Baltimore, MD, 21201



2013 Poetry Contest

January 1, 2013- April 15, 2013

Passager only accepts mailed entries. Please send:

-Up to five poems (40-line maximum each)

-A Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) for notification.

-A $20 Reading Fee is required, and includes a one-year subscription to Passager

-Introduce yourself in a cover letter and brief bio

Include your name and contact information on every page of your submission. Work will not be returned. Do not send previously-published work. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please inform us immediately if your work is published elsewhere.



PUB: BAKWA MAGAZINE - a magazine of art, culture, photography and reportage

Call for Submissions

Posted: January 2, 2013 

Is Hip-Hop’s future in Africa?  Is Kwaito the stepchild of early eighties Chicago House and New Orleans Bounce? Is the Hip-Life duo, PSquare, heirs to Fela’s throne?  Has African music lost its soul?  What is African music? Is reggae still relevant?

In its fourth issue dedicated entirely to music, Bakwa magazine is seeking short fiction, essays, reviews and poems that celebrate or castigate sounds currently in rotation on, YouTube, Sound Cloud, FM stations in Lagos, Bamenda, Nairobi, Atlanta, Brixton and beyond.

Bakwa 04 encourages submissions that circumvent conventional interpretations of the evolving sounds and trends while offering new insights into older sounds and trends.


Deadline : April 15


For submission guidelines, click here


PUB: CFP: ‘Going Local: African Texts and Cultures’, University of Birmingham. « Africa in Words

CFP: ‘Going Local: African Texts and Cultures’, University of Birmingham.

Going Local: African Texts and Cultures.
A postgraduate-led conference and workshop at the University of Birmingham, Monday 27th May 2013.

Proposals due: Monday 15th April 2013.

Theorisations of transnationalism, diaspora, the translocal and globalisation have all broken new ground in studies of African literature and other texts in recent years. But in our excitement to make African texts speak to the world, do we risk ignoring texts which speak to or about the local?

Some of the questions this conference and workshop seeks to address include:

• How do we read texts whose aesthetics, politics or forms can’t necessarily be understood by a global audience?

• Does the notion of the local (and, implicitly, the foreign or the global) have any relevance to the way we read African texts?

• How can texts from different locales speak to each other?

• How do African texts conceive of the idea of ‘localness’?

• Can we talk about the ‘local’ without it becoming a slippery synonym for ‘authentic’ or ‘exotic’?

This postgraduate conference invites papers from postgraduates and early career scholars interested in any aspect of ‘the local’ in African texts, with ‘texts’ having as broad a meaning as possible, to include:

• Literature

• Historical texts, travel writing and other ‘non-fictional’ texts

• Personal papers and diaries

• Art

• Music

• Film

• Material, media and popular cultures.

We are particularly keen to encourage conversations between scholars working in different African languages (including English, French, Portuguese and Arabic). Papers which discuss texts from any part of the African continent and its diaspora are welcomed.

The conference will take the format of panels of 20 minute papers, and a participatory workshop focusing on methodological and theoretical issues. We would also like to offer shorter slots for papers using innovative presentation formats such as visual art, film or interactive forms; please indicate in your email if you would be interested in such a slot.

To submit a paper, please email an abstract (or a statement of how you wish to present your paper, if not in traditional format) of no more than 250 words, and a short biography, to Rebecca Jones rkj982@bham.ac.uk and Tom Penfold twp005@bham.ac.uk, by Monday 15th April 2013.

For more information, please visit: http://goinglocalconference.wordpress.com/


CULTURE + VIDEO + AUDIO: I Sing the Desert Electric: Sights and Sounds from the Sahel > Africa is a Country

I Sing the Desert Electric:

Sights and Sounds

from the Sahel

“I Sing the Desert Electric” is a collection of video material shot over the past three years by Sahel Sounds founder Christopher Kirkley in different locations in the Western Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria), representing distinct and highly regionalized musical scenes. The result is a short visual and aural feast. If you want to know more, Kirkley recently talked about his Sahel Sounds project on Radio France InternationaleHere. Boima first wrote about the label here. Volume 2 of “Music from Saharan Cellphones” is now available om vinyl (and so is “Bollywood Inspired Film Music from Hausa Nigeria”).



Sahel Sounds
By Alison Hird

The founder of the Sahel Soundslabel Christopher Kirkley talks about publishing music that he found circulating on cell phones in Mali.

>via: http://www.english.rfi.fr/africa/20130310-sahel-sounds


CULTURE + AUDIO: The TEN CITIES Project: Club Culture and Dance Music > Africa is a Country

The TEN CITIES Project:

Club Culture and Dance Music

Luanda - Concert - DJ Satelite & Marco Messina“In Africa today, musicians keep in touch with global pop culture via the Internet and program locally flavoured music of explosive creativity, which in turn often finds its way back into the western world: powerful, urban and contemporary club music.” This sentence captured my attention while I was reading the Ten Cities brochure. Ten Cities — organized by the Goethe-Institut “in Sub-Saharan Africa”, Adaptr and a network of European and African partners — involves 50 DJs, musicians and producers from Europe (Berlin, Bristol, Kiev, Lisbon and Naples) and Africa (Johannesburg, Cairo, Luanda, Lagos and Nairobi), allowing them to collaborate and share their respective knowledge about club culture and dance music genres. 

Recent projects such as Damon Albarn’s DRC Music in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Dj/rupture and Maga Bo’s Beyond Digital in Morocco are great examples of possible ways of creating bridges between the Western and African musical discourses, where collaboration more than study, is the keyword.

If behind these two cases we always find an author, with his specific interest and obsessions, behind the Ten Cities project there are considerable institutions and a whole team of researchers, photographers and local scouts. I decided to interview the project’s creator Johannes Hossfeld.

How was the Ten Cities project born, both theoretically and productively?

The project came out of different threads of interests. On the one hand, we here at the Goethe-Institut in Kenya have been fascinated by the global phenomenon of club culture, particularly in Africa, and had specialized a bit in musical cooperation projects and wanted to carry this further, together with our Berlin friends from Adaptr. At the same time, we had been doing quite a lot of projects in the city of Nairobi, its urbanism, its sociopolitical spheres and cultural flows. We got more interested in the issue of the public sphere and wanted to set up a project that would unpack this notion of political theory again. The public sphere has been conceptualized in the framework of what Nancy Fraser calls “the bourgeois masculinist Eurocentric bias of the theory” and focused on very specific, rational and word-based communication spheres. But what about those public spheres that are actually not formed by language, but rather by practices of sound and the body?

For instance, what happens when people meet in music spaces at night to party and dance? Entering a club in whatever city, it is very difficult not to see in it a crucial public sphere in that society. At the same time, urban studies usually take prominent, often Western cities as paradigms for the discussion. What about cities like Luanda or Kiev, Naples or Nairobi, and how exactly is a polis formed on these locations? In this project, we attempt to take a look at club cultures as public spheres, in ten very different specific locations in the world. And produce new music. Therefore, the project has two parts: a research part and a music cooperation part.

TEN CITIES - Johannesburg - Studio - Dubmasta & Dirty ParaffinA couple of years ago I interviewed the researcher and art curator Sarat Maharaj; talking about rave and club cultures, he said that the “encounter with total strangers in the rave produces a kind euphoric relationship between them, an erotic relationship, in the sense that is far more concerned with the sharing of subjective emotional duration.” Are you trying to consider what club culture can generate globally, theoretically?

Yes, but perhaps I’d like to rephrase it a bit: we are trying to consider what club culture has actually generated, but in different places around the world. The project is conceived as one that does not try to make general claims but instead looks carefully at the effects that club music and its subcultures have had in precise locations. Perhaps the relationship that Maharaj was talking about entails more when considered in the context it is experienced. The spheres it has formed might have acquired, in many places, an even more political meaning, from the micro-politics of everyday life to openly oppositional positions.

I read in the Ten Cities brochure that “23 researchers will work on essays and studies about those partly unknown music scenes.” Can you tell us who is going to be involved and how? Are you taking into account only the African cities involved in the project or also the European ones?

The research part tells the history of the public spheres that have been formed around club music, in ten cities, from the 1960s up to now. What did these subcultures and communities look like? What were their codes and practices? What spheres of togetherness and polis did they create? Which emancipatory political and social possibilities were realized, or not? Which kind of spaces did these scenes use, occupy or appropriate? Of course, this is only possible on the basis of a sound knowledge of club music in these cities. From our friends in the ten cities we found out that neither the history of club culture nor that of club music has been written there yet, not even in some of the European ones – the exception is perhaps Berlin, where a lot of writing has been published on particular aspects of club culture.

Hence, two articles per city. The point here is that 20 authors in two groups are working on the same topics, in ten different locations.

The participating writers are all from the city they are writing about. Per city we have some of the most interesting writers of these scenes involved, such as Joyce Nyairo and Bill Odidi in Nairobi, Rangoato Hlasane and Sean O’Toole in Johannesburg, Vitor Belanciano and Rui Miguel Abreu in Lisbon or Iain Chambers in Naples.

Luanda - Concert - TopviewAt the last Womex edition there was for the first time a panel dedicated to the so-called “global bass” genre, entitled “World Music, Global Bass, And the Future of Hybrid Music” (moderated by Akwaaba Music’s Benjamin Lebrave). Do you think that these forms of contemporary club music are starting to receive more attention globally and do you consider Ten Cities an attempt to reach this goal?

In the case of Africa, that’s definitely the case but it is very recent. Although it’s important to notice that the African cities have always had vibrant club cultures. Today, the club music produced in these cities gets more and more known by a European audience. But there have been hardly any real cooperations (except perhaps between Lisbon and Luanda). Our aims are, yes, global attention, but more importantly: setting up more connections between producers and musicians. And whatever comes out of it.

Can you explain how you went about the process of selecting and grouping of the partcipants? Did you work with, say, local scouts for each city involved?

Indeed this is what we have been doing. In each city, we have one local curator who selects the participating musicians, such as Blinky Bill from Just a Band in Nairobi, Afrologic in Lagos, Batida in Lisbon and Rob Ellis in Bristol and so on. We then collectively decided that the producers from one city would travel together. Hence, the pairings of cities.

Lisbon and Luanda are for historical reasons well linked, and so are their contemporary music scenes. What did you consider in building bridges between European and African cities and their respective delegates?

In our experience of collaborative projects, this mix of connectedness and difference creates the most intense productions. Our team in Nairobi and Adaptr in Berlin tried to match producers and musicians who can relate to each other but who are also working in ways that differ enough from each other. Hence not Lisbon-Luanda. Instead, we paired Batida from Lisbon and Just a Band from Nairobi because both make very different music while sharing an interest in the musical history of their city and experiment how to include it in their contemporary practice.

It’s important to point out that bridges are not built here by workshops. The European guys are not teaching anything to the African colleagues. That would be ridiculous. The bridges are built by producing music together. The symmetrical and equal exchange is crucial here. And this exchange has in our experience always been as important and productive to the Europeans as it is to the Africans.

Lastly, I was wondering which forms of restitution are you going to take into account. In this sense, what’s the role of photography in the process?

The photographers, in some of the cities, will be working on exactly the same topics as the researchers, just in their own artistic medium. With this, we are trying to complement and frame the music production and the discourse module. It is also an interesting facet because photographers tend to be prominent protagonists in the currently booming, very lively African art scenes.

Follow Ten Cities via their Facebook page and on Soundcloud, where you’ll find some of their DJ sets, such as the following one recorded in Johannesburg @ King Kong:



FEMINISM + AUDIO: audre lorde: uses of the erotic: the erotic as power > blkcowrie ❀

audre lorde:

uses of the erotic:

the erotic as power



(An early version of one of the most important essays of the 20th century read by its author Audre Lorde in 1978 at Mount Holyoke College. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” is included in Audre’s essay collection,  Sister Outsider.)


Uses of the erotic: the erotic as power

 By Audre Lorde, Summer 1989

THERE ARE MANY KINDS OF POWER, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.

We have been taught to suspect this resource, vilified, abused, and devalued within western society. On the one hand, the superficially erotic has been encouraged as a sign of female inferiority; on the other hand, women have been made to suffer and to feel both contemptible and suspect by virtue of its existence.

It is a short step from there to the false belief that only by the suppression of the erotic within our lives and consciousness can women be truly strong. But that strength is illusory, for it is fashioned within the context of male models of power.

As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge. We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world, which values this depth of feeling enough to keep women around in order to exercise it in the service of men, but which fears this same depth too much to examine the possibilities of it within themselves. So women are maintained at a distant/ inferior position to be psychically milked, much the same way ants maintain colonies of aphids to provide a life-giving substance for their masters.

But the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough.

The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have often turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with its opposite, the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.

The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.

It is never easy to demand the most from ourselves, from our lives, from our work. To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocrity of our society. But giving in to the fear of feeling and working to capacity is a luxury only the unintentional can afford, and the unintentional are those who do not wish to guide their own destinies.

This internal requirement toward excellence which we learn from the erotic must not be misconstrued as demanding the impossible from ourselves nor from others. Such a demand incapaci- tates everyone in the process. For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness.

The aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible. Within the celebration of the erotic in all our endeavors, my work becomes a conscious decision – a longed-for bed which I enter gratefully and from which I rise up empowered.

OF COURSE, WOMEN SO EMPOWERED are dangerous. So we are taught to separate the erotic demand from most vital areas of our lives other than sex. And the lack of concern for the erotic root and satisfactions of our work is felt in our disaffection from so much of what we do. For instance, how often do we truly love our work even at its most difficult?

The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need – the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. But this is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible, it is also profoundly cruel.

As women, we need to examine the ways in which our world can be truly different. I am speaking here of the necessity for reassessing the quality of all the aspects of our lives and of our work, and of how we move toward and through them.

The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects – born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony. When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our work, our lives.

There are frequent attempts to equate porn(‘graphy and eroticism, two diametrically opposed uses of the sexual. Because of these attempts, it has become fashionable to separate the spiritual (psychic and emotional) from the political, to see them as contradictory or antithetical. “What do you mean, a poetic revolutionary, a meditating gun-runner?” the same way, we have attempted to separate the spiritual and the erotic, thereby reducing the spiritual to a world of flattened affect, a world of the ascetic who aspires to feel nothing. But nothing is farther from the truth. For the ascetic position is one of the highest fear, the gravest immobility. The severe abstinence of the ascetic becomes the ruling obsession. And it is one not of self-discipline but of self-abnegation.

The dichotomy between the spiritual and the political is also false, resulting from an incomplete attention to our erotic knowledge. For the bridge which connects them is formed by the erotic – the sensual – those physical, emotional, and psychic expressions of what is deepest and strongest and richest within each of us, being shared: the passions of love, in its deepest meanings.

Beyond the superficial, the considered phrase, “It feels right to me,” acknowledges the strength of the erotic into a true knowledge, for what that means is the first and most powerful guiding light toward any understanding. And understanding is a handmaiden which can only wait upon, or clarify, that knowledge, deeply horn. The erotic is the nurturer or nursemaid of all our deepest knowledge.

Aditi (अदिति “she who has no limits”), also known as Lajja Gauri, the uttānapad “she who crouches with legs spread”. In the first age of the gods, existence was born from non-existence. The quarters of the sky were born from Her who crouched with legs spread. The earth was born from Her who crouched with legs spread. And from the earth the quarters of the sky were born. Rig Veda, 10.72.3-4

Aditi (अदिति “she who has no limits”), also known as Lajja Gauri, the uttānapad “she who crouches with legs spread”. In the first age of the gods, existence was born from non-existence. The quarters of the sky were born from Her who crouched with legs spread. The earth was born from Her who crouched with legs spread. And from the earth the quarters of the sky were born. Rig Veda, 10.72.3-4

THE EROTIC FUNCTIONS FOR ME IN several ways, and the first is in providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.

Another important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy. In the way my body stretches to music and opens into response, hearkening to its deepest rhythms, so every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience, whether it is dancing, building a book- case, writing a poem, examining an idea.

That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible, and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.

This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.

During World War II, we bought sealed plastic packets of white, uncolored margarine, with a tiny, intense pellet of yellow coloring perched like a topaz just inside the clear skin of the bag. We would leave the margarine out for a while to soften, and then we would pinch the little pellet to break it inside the bag, releasing the rich yellowness into the soft pale mass of margarine. Then taking it carefully between our fingers, we would knead it gently back and forth, over and over, until the color had spread throughout the whole pound bag of margarine, thoroughly coloring it.

I find the erotic such a kernel within myself. When released from its intense and constrained pellet, it flows through and colors my life with a kind of energy that heightens and sensitizes and strengthens all my experience.

WE HAVE BEEN RAISED TO FEAR THE yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But, once recognized, those which do not enhance our future lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our desires keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance. The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression as women.

When we live outside ourselves, and by that I mean on external directives only rather than from our internal knowledge and needs, when we live away from those erotic guides from within ourselves, then our lives are limited by external and alien forms, and we conform to the needs of a structure that is not based on human need, let alone an individual’s. But when we begin to live from within outward, in touch with the power of the erotic within ourselves, and allowing that power to inform and illuminate our actions upon the world around us,. then we begin to be responisible to our selves in the deepest sense. For as we begin to recognize our deepest feelings, we begin to give up, of necessity, being satisfied with suffering and selfnegation, and with the numbness which so often seems like their only alternative in our society. Our acts against oppression become integral with self, motivated and empowered from within.

In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.

And yes, there is a hierarchy. There is a difference between painting a back fence and writing a poem, but only one of quantity. And there is, for me, no difference-between writing a good poem and moving into sunlight against the body of a woman I love.

This brings me to the last consideration of the erotic. To share the power of each other’s feelings is different from using another’s feelings as we would use a kleenex. When we look the other way from our experience, erotic or otherwise, we use rather than share the feelings of those others who participate in the experience with us. And use without the consent of the used is abuse.

In order to be utilized, our erotic feelings must be recognized. The need for sharing deep feeling is a human need. But within the european-american tradition, this need is satisfied by certain proscribed erotic comings-together. These occasions are almost always characterized by a simultaneous looking away, a pretense of calling them something else, whether a religion, a fit, mob violence, or even playing doctor. And this misnaming of the need and the deed give rise to that distortion which results in pornography and obscenity – the abuse of feeling.

When we look away from the importance of the erotic in the development and sustenance of our power, or when we look away from ourselves as we satisfy our erotic needs in concert with others, we use each other as objects of satisfaction rather than share our joy in the satisfying, rather than make connection with our similarities and our differences. To refuse to be conscious of what we are feeling at any time, however comfortable that might seem, is to deny a large part of the experience, and to allow ourselves to be reduced to the pornographic, the abused, and the absurd.

The erotic cannot be felt secondhand. As a Black lesbian feminist, I have a particular feeling, knowledge, and understanding for those sisters with whom I have danced hard, played, or even fought. This deep participation has often been the forerunner for joint concerted actions not possible before.

But this erotic charge is not easily shared by women who continue to operate under an exclusively european-american male tradition. I know it was not available to me when I was trying to adapt my consciousness to this mode of living and sensation.

Only now, I find more and more women-identified women brave enough to risk sharing the erotic’s electrical charge without having to look away, and without distorting the enormously powerful and creative nature of that exchange. Recognizing the power of the erotic within our lives can give us the energy to pursue genuine change within our world, rather than merely settling for a shift of characters in the same weary drama.

For not only do we touch our most profoundly creative source, but we do that which is female and self-affirming in the face of a racist, patriarchal, and anti-erotic society.


Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde is the author of numerous books of poetry and essays. She is an outspoken critic of racism, sexism, classism, and other systems of domination, as well as a prolific creator of nest, cultural possibilities. This essay was originally delivered as a speech in 1978 at the Fourth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Mount Holyoke College, and has become a feminist classic of sorts.


SPORTS + PHOTO ESSAY: No Endorsements, No Problem: Boxing Gold Medalist Claressa Shields Keeps Fighting > Mother Jones

No Endorsements, No Problem:

Boxing Gold Medalist

Claressa Shields

Keeps Fighting

Back home in Michigan, the Olympian juggles homework, dating—and a strict training schedule.

| Fri Mar. 29, 2013

Maybe you remember Claressa "T-Rex" Shields: At 17, she was the youngest boxer in last summer's Olympics, the first games to ever let women spar. Aggressive, spunky, and intensely focused, she trounced a Russian opponent twice her age in the finals to return home to Flint, Michigan, with a gold medal. "I wrapped it around my hand when I went to sleep," Shields says. "I had this fear that when I woke up the medal was going to be silver."

Yet unlike fellow gold medalist Gabby Douglas, the teen gymnast who is expected to rake in $8-$12 million from sponsorships, Shields has received no national endorsement deals (though a local car lot gave her a custom black and gold Camaro). "I think because women's boxing is new, I guess," she says. "I don't really know."

Shields started boxing after her dad, in and out of jail throughout her childhood, took her to the gym when she was 11. "I was a quiet, angry child who felt I wasn't cared about," she says. "When I worked out, I felt like I was fighting against something. I still haven't figured out what it is."

AUDIO: Click arrows below to listen to Claressa

Since the Olympics, it has been harder to focus. "I had this big old goal I was going towards: the medal." Plus there are the usual distractions, says Jason Crutchfield, with whom Shields trains two to three hours a night: "Her biggest problem right now is boys. That throws everything off."

Still, in her seven-year career, Shields has only lost one match—and in February, she whupped three-time world champ Mary Spencer: "She was bigger than me, she weighed more than me, and it looked like she was stronger, but she just couldn't do anything with me." It was the first time Shields' mom and siblings had seen her fight live.

Outside the ring, she has her sights set on winning the USA Boxing National Championships this week, graduation in May, college in the fall, and the Rio Olympics in 2016. It's a lot to think about for a high school senior, but as Crutchfield often barks: "Never let them know when you're sweating."

Claressa "T-Rex" Shields

"A lot of times growing up, people looked at me different because I was a girl," Shields says. "But I never had my hair done. I would play football in the field with the boys. Once I went out to the gym, I could throw on a T-shirt and I could train, just like the guys. I could sweat just like them; I could run just as hard as them. Nobody saying, 'Oh, a girl's not supposed to do that.' I fit right in."

Before matches, says Shields, "I listen to rap music—Lil Wayne, Drake. And then I listen to gospel to calm me down."

Jason Crutchfield

Coach Jason Crutchfield had Shields move in with his family last year after she had a series of arguments with her mother. "She used to call us in the middle of the night to come and get her…So I just let her come stay."

Shields sketches her medal at Northwestern High School. One regret? Spring break tournaments, while "everyone else is hanging out and going to parties and stuff like that."

Sporting red, white, and blue nails six weeks before London. Unlike other boxers, Shields says, she'll never wear makeup to bouts: "What if the makeup gets in my eyes while I'm fighting?"

"When I fight and my hair is messed up, it makes me fight harder. Like a beast or whatever. So when I was getting my hair done, she was getting to the last braid, and I said, 'No, leave that piece right there.'"

"I didn't think it would be that heavy," says Shields of her gold medal. She now keeps it locked in a safe, and has put the $25,000 of award money in savings.

Photographer Zackary Canepari is editing a documentary about Claressa Shields, due out later this year. See the trailer below, and visit the film's homepage here.

This story appears in the May/June issue of Mother Jones magazine.


    Maddie Oatman

    Research Editor

    Maddie Oatman is the research editor at Mother Jones. For more of her stories, click here. To follow her on Twitter, click here. RSS |