Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The origin of “lynching” as a social phenomenon has several possibilities, but it seems to be primarily related to the practice of vigilante justice dating from colonial days up through the “Wild West.” Regardless of the term's origins, the lynchings suffered by African Americans were crimes against humanity, yet these events were festive spectacles. Torture, mutilation, burning alive, and hanging—of African Americans, primarily—was entertainment for celebratory white crowds, often with children at their sides. These “festivals of violence” became commonplace during Reconstruction and continued until the 1950s. The root of this violence, as a cultural practice, is white nationalism guided by its ideology of white supremacy. As such, the pre-Civil War majority ruling of the Supreme Court in Dred ...