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Title:Resisting Lynching: Black Grassroots Responses to Lynching in the Mississippi and Arkansas Deltas, 1882-1938
Author(s):Hill, Karlos
Director of Research:Cha-Jua, Sundiata K.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cha-Jua, Sundiata K.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Barrett, James R.; Roediger, David R.; Benson, Christopher
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):African Americans
Mississippi and Arkansas Deltas
Abstract:“Resisting Lynching: Black Grassroots Responses to Lynching in the Mississippi and Arkansas Deltas, 1882-1938” explores the social and cultural history of the black experience of lynching. It highlights the pervasiveness of lynch mob violence, the failure of local, state, and federal governments to prevent lynching and how these factors combined to shape the development of black grassroots protest in the Delta region. As such, this dissertation traces how Delta blacks responded to the crisis of white lynch mob violence in a variety of contexts. Specifically, it examines the rise and decline of black lynch mobs, black violent confrontations with white mobs as well as lynching’s impact on black popular culture and historical memory. My main contention is that these disparate but related responses represent a grassroots tradition of black resistance to white lynch mob violence. This dissertation counters histories of lynching that have tended to view black lynch victims and black communities as primarily passive victims of white mob violence. It moves beyond histories of black anti-lynching protest that have primarily focused on prominent black spokespersons and national organizations that lobbied for state and federal anti-lynching legislation. In contrast, it demonstrates that Delta blacks routinely organized resistance to lynching through social networks and vigorously contested white rationales for mob violence. In highlighting black grassroots resistance, I argue that histories of lynching are not necessarily stories of black victimization and disempowerment. Rather, the history of lynching provides a fertile ground upon which to understand black self activity and the social and political dynamics that produce it. As such, “Resisting Lynching” aims to contribute to a new and emerging trend within lynching scholarship that seeks to “rehumanize” black lynch victims by situating the black response as the focal point of lynching narratives.
Issue Date:2010-01-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2009 Karlos Hill
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-01-06
Date Deposited:2009-12

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