I SPOKE TO AN EYEWITNESS TO THREE AFRICAN AMERICAN HANGINGS IN THE 1950s
The Civil Writer Magazine
Let me set the scene; Mrs. Shafer is a caucasian lady living here in Maryland born in the 1940s in South Carolina. She was not considered a passageway white citizen meaning to have access to the white water fountains, and front door entrances into establishments being she was considered of mixed heritage. She had no Middle East or African roots absent from her DNA test to identify her olive tone skin as something other than caucasian according to her DNA, which I read. Her family was of European descent but she had coal miners toned skin.
Because of her olive toned skin her mother would sew her name and address into the hem of her dress just in case she was murdered she could be identified. At the events she was ignored because she was a young 10 year old girl living with her white family known in the community. The locals would ignore her presence on the streets but from time to time she and her sisters would get a back-hand from the locals.
At ten years old she was a spectator of three separate hangings of Black men who either looked at a white woman wrong or a white woman looked at them wrong. If a white woman looked at a Black man he would get lynched just the same and castrated at the same time. According to Mrs. Shafer black men would get shoved around through the crowd with blows to the head, beaten by the white crowd to a state of unconsciousness. By the time the black man's facial features disappeared behind swellings and blood, the white mob would have a rope tied around his neck and hoisted him into the air. Once in the air and having convulsions from being strangled his testicles and penis would be cut off with a knife while still alive especially if they were just accused of looking at or raping a white woman. It was like a Sunday picnic for white families of all ages that is why she was there. The finale wasn't just the hanging but the young man defecating and urinating on himself. That's when everyone would erupt into applause as a job well done and go home leaving the body to hang.
The body would remain hanging in the tree for hours plucked by birds and decaying until someone took him down and it wasn't law enforcement. A hanging was from a simple accusation or a look a black man supposedly gave a white woman. Why did Mrs. Shafer tell me about these events she saw as a child? I believe it was something she held bundled up for 60 years and I was just there to receive it for posterity sake.