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Considering the Lilies in the Field: Lynching, Memory, Black National Identity, and the Afro-American League

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Abstract:

This paper intertwines lynching, organizational building, identity, and the selection and preservation of real, manufactured, and refashioned national memories. Lynching, the deliberate murder, sanctioned with or without a trial, committed by whites to usurp the equitable intent of the written law, from 1889 to 1918, claimed the lives of 2,522 African Americans. Incorporating lynching narratives and photos, this paper examines the origins and activities of the pioneering black civil rights organization the Afro-American League (AAL), a forerunner of the Niagara Movement.

Organized in 1890 by black journalist T. Thomas Fortune, the objectives of the AAL articulated a black sentiment that lynching reflected the intent of southern whites to interpret and distort the intent of the written law. Fortune believed that the answers to black legal problems resided in the organization of blacks into a viable interest group that would challenge inequitable legal treatment. With legal support, blacks could simultaneously challenge social and economic disparities.

By connecting lynching to re-fashioned memories of slavery and to the manufacturing of lynching rationales by whites, the paper argues that members of the AAL articulated a national black identity, created a black interpretative framework for lynching, and developed a black anti-lynching discourse. The work of the AAL reinforced the need for a black collective identity as it articulated and re-defined a shared memory of violence that connected the black community. Although disbanded in 1906, the legacy of the AAL was that it effectively provided the ideology that its civil rights offspring, the Niagara Movement, adopted.

Author's Keywords:

Lynching, Mob Violence, Afro-American League, Memory, Southern History, Identity
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Association:
Name: Association for the Study of African American Life and History
URL:
http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p36814_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Thames Leonard, Tonya. "Considering the Lilies in the Field: Lynching, Memory, Black National Identity, and the Afro-American League" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, New York USA, Oct 05, 2005 <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p36814_index.html>

APA Citation:

Thames Leonard, T. , 2005-10-05 "Considering the Lilies in the Field: Lynching, Memory, Black National Identity, and the Afro-American League" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, New York USA <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p36814_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Paper
Abstract: This paper intertwines lynching, organizational building, identity, and the selection and preservation of real, manufactured, and refashioned national memories. Lynching, the deliberate murder, sanctioned with or without a trial, committed by whites to usurp the equitable intent of the written law, from 1889 to 1918, claimed the lives of 2,522 African Americans. Incorporating lynching narratives and photos, this paper examines the origins and activities of the pioneering black civil rights organization the Afro-American League (AAL), a forerunner of the Niagara Movement.

Organized in 1890 by black journalist T. Thomas Fortune, the objectives of the AAL articulated a black sentiment that lynching reflected the intent of southern whites to interpret and distort the intent of the written law. Fortune believed that the answers to black legal problems resided in the organization of blacks into a viable interest group that would challenge inequitable legal treatment. With legal support, blacks could simultaneously challenge social and economic disparities.

By connecting lynching to re-fashioned memories of slavery and to the manufacturing of lynching rationales by whites, the paper argues that members of the AAL articulated a national black identity, created a black interpretative framework for lynching, and developed a black anti-lynching discourse. The work of the AAL reinforced the need for a black collective identity as it articulated and re-defined a shared memory of violence that connected the black community. Although disbanded in 1906, the legacy of the AAL was that it effectively provided the ideology that its civil rights offspring, the Niagara Movement, adopted.

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Similar Titles:
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The Origins of the Niagara Movement: The Afro-American League and the Afro-American Council

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