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Fannie Henderson Witnesses Southern Lynch Law

By Honey, Michael, Keith

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Book Id: WPLBN0100002672
Format Type: PDF eBook:
File Size: 0.1 MB
Reproduction Date: 01/01/1999

Title: Fannie Henderson Witnesses Southern Lynch Law  
Author: Honey, Michael, Keith
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, Law, Lynch Law
Collections: Politics, Authors Community
Publication Date:
Publisher: University of California Press
Member Page: History Is A Weapon .org


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Keith Honey, B. M. (1999). Fannie Henderson Witnesses Southern Lynch Law. Retrieved from

Published in Black-Workers Remember: an oral history of segregation, unionism, and the freedom struggle by Michael Keith Honey, pg. 20-23.

The labor of black workers has been crucial to economic development in the United States. Yet because of racism and segregation, their contribution remains largely unknown. Spanning the 1930s to the present, Black Workers Remember tells the hidden history of African American workers in their own words. It provides striking firsthand accounts of the experiences of black southerners living under segregation in Memphis, Tennessee. Eloquent and personal, these oral histories comprise a unique primary source and provide a new way of understanding the black labor experience during the industrial era. Together, the stories demonstrate how black workers resisted racial apartheid in American industry and underscore the active role of black working people in history. The individual stories are arranged thematically in chapters on labor organizing, Jim Crow in the workplace, police brutality, white union racism, and civil rights struggles. Taken together, the stories ask us to rethink the conventional understanding of the civil rights movement as one led by young people and preachers in the 1950s and 1960s. Instead, we see the freedom struggle as the product of generations of people, including workers who organized unions, resisted Jim Crow at work, and built up their families, churches, and communities. The collection also reveals the devastating impact that a globalizing capitalist economy has had on black communities and the importance of organizing the labor movement as an antidote to poverty. Michael Honey gathered these oral histories for more than fifteen years. He weaves them together here into a rich collection reflecting many tragic dimensions of America's racial history while drawing new attention to the role of workers and poor people in African American and American history.

In the absence of a strong protest organization in the African American community, the police in the 1930s and 1940s were happy to demonstrate their power by victimizing many hapless individuals. And yet individuals did resist. Ms. Henderson, for example, acted against her powerlessness to stop a grisly lynching by becoming an official witness to it. Her friend Mary Alexander made the choice that many people would: she hid herself from direct knowledge of police crime and thus from responsibility to tell about it. Henderson not only took careful note of the crime but located Carlock's wife and stayed with her to offer emotional support. What became of Henderson we do not know, but the testimony of witnesses suggests that many such humble and unheralded people in their own way tried to resist the bloody repressiveness of Jim Crow.


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