(This page was developed by a Berea College student as part of a course on Chesnutt)
The reason that lynching is on this site about Chesnutt is that it was a major problem in his time. Also, Chesnutt writes about lynchings in a few of his short stories and novels. He knew that it was a problem and probably thought that in order to open people's eyes, he should write about it and voice his opinion on the subject.
Ida B. Wells was a staunch advocate of African-American rights and wrote in protest of lynchings under the pseudonym "Iola." She also spoke in Scotland and England in order to persuade them to boycott American goods until the number of lynchings decreased. This boycott worked and lynchings were nearly cut in half. Another reason that Ida is so important is that she was one of the founders of the NAACP.
The first major campaign of the NAACP was to get anti-lynching laws into effect. They tried to pass many bills, but none of them ever got past the Senate. One of the bills that they tried to get passed was the Dyer bill, which would have made lynching a federal offense. In order to open the eyes of the public, the NAACP published a huge review of lynching records from 1889-1918. All of the efforts made by the NAACP against lynchings finally brought an end to the excesses of mob violence and made the public hostile towards lynchings.
In the 1920's groups of southern liberals organized in order to generate an anti-lynching movement of their own. The frequency of lynchings during this time period did drop, but as the depression hit a resurgence came up.
**As everyone should know, lynching is still a problem facing America today. It may have decreased dramatically, but it does still exist in some places.
This page is compiled from: The Internet and The Encyclopedia of Southern History, edited by David C. Roller and Robert W. Tyman, Louisiana State University Press, 1979.