Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were African American men who were lynched on August 7, 1930, in Marion, Indiana, after being taken from jail and beaten by a mob. They had been arrested that night as suspects in a robbery, murder and rape case. A third African American suspect, 16-year-old James Cameron, had also been arrested and narrowly escaped being killed by the mob. The teenagers had been accused of murdering a white man and raping a white woman. The noose was removed from the neck of one of the three, James Cameron, when a woman, by one account, shouted, “Take this boy back! He had nothing to do with any raping or killing.” Mary Ball later testified that she had not been raped. According to Cameron’s 1982 memoir, the police had originally accused all three men of murder and rape. After the lynchings, and Mary Ball’s testimony, the rape charge was dropped.

The two 1930 lynchings before thousands of whites, some of whom returned home with body parts and other souvenirs, were captured in an iconic photo. But today nothing in Marion memorializes the lynchings.”The night of the lynching, studio photographer Lawrence Beitler took a photograph of the crowd by the bodies of the men hanging from a tree. He sold thousands of copies over the next 10 days, and it has become an iconic image of a lynching.
In 1937 Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from New York City and the adoptive father of the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, saw a copy of Beitler’s 1930 photograph. Meeropol later said that the photograph “haunted [him] for days” and inspired his poem “Bitter Fruit”. It was published in the New York Teacher in 1937 and later in the magazine New Masses, in both cases under the pseudonym Lewis Allan. Meeropol set his poem to music, renaming it “Strange Fruit”. He performed it at a labor meeting in Madison Square Garden. In 1939 it was performed, recorded and popularized by American singer Billie Holiday. The song reached 16th place on the charts in July 1939, and has since been recorded by numerous artists, continuing into the 21st century.
After years as a civil rights activist, in 1988 James Cameron founded and became director of America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, devoted to African-American history in the United States. He intended it as a place for education and reconciliation.
In 2007, artist David Powers supervised the creation of a mural, titled American Nocturne, in a park in downtown Elgin, Illinois. The mural depicts the bottom half of the Beitler photograph, showing the crowd at the lynching but not the bodies of Shipp and Smith. The artwork was intended as a critique of racism in American society. In 2016 there was a public controversy when the similarity between the mural and the photo was posted on social media. The mural was moved from the park to the Hemmens Cultural Center.The Elgin Cultural Arts Commission then recommended to the city council that the mural be permanently removed from public display.mural5526039c2a740.image

My favorite woman leader from the 1960s civil rights era Gloria Richardson

This is one of my favorite historical pictures of all time ….This is Gloria Richardson…and she was one of Malcolm X’s heroes …Gloria Hayes Richardson was born on May 6, 1922 in Baltimore, Maryland to parents John and Mabel Hayes. During the Great Depression her parents moved the family to Cambridge, Maryland, the home of Mabel Hayes. Young Gloria grew up in a privileged environment. Her grandfather, Herbert M. St. Clair, was one of the town’s wealthiest citizens. He owned numerous properties in the city’s Second Ward which included a funeral parlor, grocery store and butcher shop. He was also the sole African American member of the Cambridge City Council through most of the early 20th Century.

Gloria attended Howard University in Washington at the age of 16 and graduated in 1942 with a degree in sociology. After Howard, she worked as a civil servant for the federal government in World War II-era Washington, D.C. but returned to Cambridge after the war. Despite her grandfather’s political and economic influence, the Maryland Department of Social Services, for example, refused to hire Gloria or any other black social workers. Gloria Hayes married local school teacher Harry Richardson in 1948 and raised a family for the next thirteen years.

When the civil rights movement came to Cambridge in 1961 in the form of Freedom Riders, the town was thoroughly segregated and the African American unemployment rate was 40%. Gloria Richardson’s teenage daughter, Donna, became involved with the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) effort to desegregate public accommodations. Gloria, however, refused to commit herself to non-violence as a protest tactic.

When the SNCC-led protests faltered in 1962, Gloria and other parents created the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC) which became the only adult-led SNCC affiliate in the civil rights organization’s history. CNAC enlarged the scope of grievances to include housing and employment discrimination and inadequate health care. Richardson was selected to lead CNAC.

This Richardson-led effort differed from most other civil rights campaigns of the era. It took place in a border state rather than the Deep South. It addressed a much wider array of issues rather than the one or two that motivated other campaigns. Since Richardson and her followers refused to commit to non-violence as a philosophy or a tactic, CNAC protests were far more violent and confrontative. Protests in 1963, for example, prompted Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes to send in the Maryland National Guard. The Guard remained in the city, which was effectively under martial law, for nearly a year. The Cambridge Movement also drew the attention of U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy who unsuccessfully attempted to broker an agreement between Cambridge’s white political leaders and Richardson’s CNAC.

By the summer of 1964 Richardson resigned from the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee citing her exhaustion from leading nearly two years of continuous demonstrations. Richardson, who had divorced Harry Richardson in the late 1950s, married freelance photographer Frank Dandridge. The couple moved to New York City with Richardson’s younger daughter Tamara.521618_4987366773452_1067897297_n