Friday, September 28, 2012

The Interpretation of Lynching

When African American singer, Billie Holiday, performed the song “Strange Fruit”, many were moved by its metaphorical depiction of a phenomenon that was all too real but rarely openly discussed. The topic of lynching had been present in the nation’s collective consciousness for some time; poems and short stories had been written on the topic for decades.  However, Holiday’s haunting rendition especially struck a chord. Written by a Jewish schoolteacher named Abel Meeropol in the 1930s, the song still resonates with listeners today. Listen for yourself:

Learn the story behind the song and more about Abel Meeropol here:

What do you think?  How does this song help you understand the issues related to lynching?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Without Sanctuary

Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America,  is a collection of photographs and postcards documenting dozens of lynchings and other killings carried out by lynch mobs.

Upon the opening of the exhibit, guests are invited to participate in a cross-cultural experience.  While Without Sanctuary actually opens Saturday, September 29th, Levine Museum of the New South will hold an opening reception on Tuesday October 2nd.  Visitors may enjoy interpretive music, dance, and theatrical offerings courtesy of Charlotte’s artistic community.  Along with these performances, scholars educated in the history of lynching will be present to provide insight into this touchy subject.

What is lynching?
The NAACP’s definition of lynching is as follows:

·         1) There must be evidence that someone was killed;
·         2) The killing must have occurred illegally;
·         3) Three or more persons must have taken part in the killing; and
·         4) The killers must have claimed to be serving justice or tradition.

“Whenever society treats a people as if they have no rights or dignity or worth… they are being lynched covertly.  Whenever people are denied jobs, health care, housing, and the basic necessities of life, they are being lynched.  There are a lot of ways to lynch a people.  Whenever a people cry out to be recognized as human beings and the society ignores them, they are being lynched.”- 

    James H. Cone (Theologian at Union Theological Seminary)

How would you define “Lynching”?