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"Lynching and Leisure": How racial terrorism became public spectacle

Hood College history professor Dr. Terry Anne Scott's new book explores how White Texans at the turn of the 20th century transformed lynchings from extralegal terrorism against Blacks into popular public exhibitions of racial violence. (book cover image courtesy U of Arkansas Press)

Tom's guest today is Dr. Terry Anne Scott, an associate professor of history, the chair of the History Department at Hood College, and a good friend of the Midday show.

Dr. Scott has written a book that is as difficult as it is important. It chronicles the evolution of mob violence in Texas at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The NAACP has documented more than 4,700 lynchings across America from the 1880s through the 1960s. Professor Scott has found evidence — in just the state of Texas — that 469 Black people, as well as 140 white people, 111 Mexicans and at least one Native American were victims of mob violence in roughly that same time period.

Dr. Terry Anne Scott teaches American history and chairs the History Department at Hood College in Frederick, MD. (photo courtesy Prof. Scott)

Dr. Scott’s book traces how these killings — once furtive, clandestine acts — eventually became popular public spectacles, and she examines what that means for our understanding of the legacy of racial violence and discrimination in America.

Her book is called Lynching and Leisure:  Race and the Transformation of Mob Violence in Texas.  It's published by University of Arkansas Press.

CONTENT ADVISORY: We talk today about a book that includes graphic descriptions of torture and murder. Understanding the depravity of these acts is fundamental to understanding what Black people faced and feared on a daily basis. It is difficult to comprehend the cruelty of the White mobs that inflicted these painful deaths on so many people. But Dr. Scott’s book is the result of important research that we think is very important to share.

Terry Anne Scott joins us on our digital line from Frederick, Maryland.

You're welcome to join us as well. Call us: 410.662.8780. email us: [email protected] Tweet us: @MiddayWYPR

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Malarie is Midday's Supervisory Producer.
Rob is Midday's senior producer.