American history is marked by numerous human rights violations and horrific atrocities. While some of these horrors are well-documented and basically common knowledge, others have been swept under the rug. An example of this would be lynchings. Most Americans know that lynchings occurred, but what most of us do not know is that people turned photographs of lynchings into postcards.
The above photo is from a postcard showing the 1920 lynchings of three African American circus workers. They were accused of raping a white women and were lynched without any trial. It was later discovered that the women showed no evidence of rape or assault.
That postcard was not alone, however, and pictures from lynchings were often used. It is difficult to understand how anyone felt lynching photographs needed to be distributed and circulated as if they were pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but it happened.
The following pictures are disturbing, but less than a century ago, they were distributed to the masses to celebrate the murders of countless African Americans.
Reminder: All of these photos were actually used as postcards.
One victim in particular, Jesse Washington, a teenager, had multiple pictures used in post cards. He was lynched in Waco, Texas on May 16, 1915. He was accused of raping and killing a white woman, to which he pled guilty. He was immediately dragged from the courthouse and lynched. The following pictures are all from his lynching, as celebrated through postcards.
Unfortunately, the photos depicted here are only a small sample of the lynching postcards that were circulated in the first half of the 20th century. They are unsettling reminders of America’s past, and serve as evidence of the horrors that can occur when racism and hatred rule over the justice system.
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