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The anatomy of resistance [Elektronische Ressource] : the rhetoric of anti-lynching in American literature and culture, 1892 - 1936 / vorgelegt von Sascha W. Krause

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The Anatomy of Resistance: The Rhetoric of Anti-Lynching in American Literature and Culture, 1892 – 1936 Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde der Philosophischen Fakultät IV (Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften) der Universität Regensburg vorgelegt von Sascha W. Krause Regensburg 2005 ______________________________ Regensburg 2005 Erstgutachter: Prof. Dr. Udo J. Hebel Zweitgutachter: Prof. Dr. Klaus Benesch Acknowledgements For generous financial, professional, and personal support I owe many individuals and insti-tutions. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung awarded me with a postgraduate fellowship which provided the necessary financial support to make this study possible in the first place. Fur-thermore, they kindly sponsored my research trip to the USA and sought to help me ideation-ally but also humanely at all times throughout the past three years. I am very grateful that they believed in my project and gave me the chance to realize it. Prof. Dr. Udo J. Hebel, my supervising professor at the University of Regensburg, has continued to keep the faith in my work. He has supported and encouraged me wherever and whenever possible and provided important advice and criticism. I want to thank him for all the pain he has gone through with me to make this study possible. I am equally indebted to Prof. Dr. Klaus T.
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The Anatomy of Resistance:
The Rhetoric of Anti-Lynching in American Literature
and Culture, 1892 – 1936



Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde der Philosophischen Fakultät IV
(Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften) der Universität Regensburg









vorgelegt von
Sascha W. Krause
Regensburg
2005
______________________________

Regensburg 2005





















Erstgutachter: Prof. Dr. Udo J. Hebel

Zweitgutachter: Prof. Dr. Klaus Benesch Acknowledgements

For generous financial, professional, and personal support I owe many individuals and insti-
tutions. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung awarded me with a postgraduate fellowship which
provided the necessary financial support to make this study possible in the first place. Fur-
thermore, they kindly sponsored my research trip to the USA and sought to help me ideation-
ally but also humanely at all times throughout the past three years. I am very grateful that
they believed in my project and gave me the chance to realize it.
Prof. Dr. Udo J. Hebel, my supervising professor at the University of Regensburg, has
continued to keep the faith in my work. He has supported and encouraged me wherever and
whenever possible and provided important advice and criticism. I want to thank him for all
the pain he has gone through with me to make this study possible. I am equally indebted to
Prof. Dr. Klaus T. Benesch from the University of Bayreuth, who agreed to help me in the
initial and final phase of my dissertation. Likewise, Dr. Karsten Fitz has been an indispensa-
ble support, especially in the initial phase of my study. Randall Burkett, the African-
American Bibliographer at the Special Collections and Archives of the Robert W. Woodruff
Main Library at Emory University, Atlanta, also took the time to share his invaluable experi-
ence with me. In the final phase of my writing process Julie Spergel, Dorith and Volker Her-
feld volunteered most kindly to proofread my chapters. I don't know how I could have ended
this dissertation without your help! I also want to thank my family for giving me the chance
to write this study.
Finally, I want to thank my wife Julia, who has supported and encouraged me. She
has lived with me through all my highs and lows and has always been my mainstay. She has
contributed not only through her understanding and patience but most of all though her end-
less and uncompromising love to the completion of my project. This study is dedicated to her.
2 Contents

Abbreviations...................................................................................................................... 6

1. Introduction................................................................................................................... 8

2. The Anatomy of Resistance......................................................................................... 24
2.1. Lynching as Discourse.............................................................................................. 24
2.1.1. The Nature of the Rhetoric of Lynching............................................................. 27
2.1.2. The En-gendering of Race.................................................................................. 33
2.1.3. The Racialization of Class.................................................................................. 40
2.2. The Representation of Lynching............................................................................... 46
2.2.1. Intersection with Other Rituals........................................................................... 51
2.2.2. The "Model Lynching"....................................................................................... 55
2.3. Theoretical Approaches to Colonial Resistance ....................................................... 61
2.4. The Anatomy of Resistance to Lynching – Reiteration with a Difference............... 67

3. Reiteration with Difference.......................................................................................... 78
3.1. The Lynching of Negroes – its Causes and its Preventions from a Negro's
Point of View............................................................................................................. 78
3.2. Reiterating the "Policy of Misrepresentation": Sutton E. Griggs's Novel The
Hindered Hand: or, the Reign of the Repressionist .................................................. 86
3.2.1. Griggs's Understanding of Race ......................................................................... 89
3.2.2. Modes of Resistance........................................................................................... 92
3.2.3. Sameness through Othering................................................................................ 94
3.2.4. The Revocation of Knowledge ........................................................................... 98
3.2.4.1. Rape and the Redefinition of Black Gender................................................. 98
3.2.4.2. The Spectacle of Black Suffering................................................................. 103

4. "The Saving of Black America's Body and White America's Soul" - Civiliza-
tion and the Construction of Sameness ................................................................. 115
4.1. "The End of American Innocence": The Crisis of Cultural Authority in Amer-
ica at the Turn of the Century.................................................................................... 116
3 4.1.1. The Meanings of "Civilization".......................................................................... 117
4.1.2. Anti-Lynching as Civilizing Mission ................................................................. 120
4.1.3. Southern Progressivism ...................................................................................... 124
4.2. Contesting the "Old Thread Bare Lie": Ida B. Wells-Barnett's Reiteration of
the Discourse of Civilization and Masculinity .......................................................... 127
4.3. "America's National Disgrace": Lynching as a Universalized Threat to Ameri-
can Civilization in the Writings of James Weldon Johnson...................................... 133
4.4. Race, Class, and Civilization in Charles W. Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradi-
tion............................................................................................................................. 137
4.4.1. The "Noospaper's" Distortion of Reality ............................................................ 142
4.4.2. Sameness as Othering – Sameness through Othering......................................... 148
4.4.2.1. The Construction of the Mob as Other ......................................................... 149
4.4.2.2. The "New Aristocracy of Wealth"................................................................ 155
4.4.2.3. The "Genteel Racist" – Racism as the Impediment of Civilization ............. 159
4.4.3. The "Apex of an Aristocratic Development" – Delamere as Chesnutt's Ide-
alized Model for Whiteness....................................................................................... 163
4.4.4. The Idea(l) of Sameness ..................................................................................... 166

5. The Failure of Civilization and the Impossibility of Sameness - Walter
White's The Fire in the Flint................................................................................... 175
5.1. "The Mind of the Lyncher": White's Analysis of Lynching and Racism ................. 177
5.2. The Fire in the Flint as Modified Local Color Fiction............................................. 180
5.3. "Like a Scroll Slowly Unwinding before his Eyes" – Kenneth Harper's Initia-
tion into the South ..................................................................................................... 187
5.4. The Social Stratum of the White South and the Prevention of Sameness ................ 191
5.4.1. The "Leading Citizens" of Central City.............................................................. 191
5.4.2. The Lower White Classes................................................................................... 196
5.5. Violence in the Formation of Black Masculinity and as a Mode of Resistance....... 201
5.6. Race as Public Image................................................................................................ 206

6. "What a Mighty Foe to Mob Violence Southern White Women Might Be" –
Motherhood as Sameness in Domestic Anti-Lynching Texts .............................. 211
6.1. Domestic Anti-Lynching Texts – Historical Conditions of Development ............... 211
6.2. The Domestic Allegory............................................................................................. 217
4 6.3. Black Gender Respectability .................................................................................... 219
6.3.1. Rachel as Paradigmatic Formulation of Motherhood......................................... 221
6.3.2. Motherhood as "Unattained Luxury" and Oppressive Discourse....................... 222
6.3.3. Motherhood and Civilization.............................................................................. 224
6.3.4. Conventions of Presentation............................................................................... 225
6.3.5. The Formulation of Black Masculinity in Domestic Anti-Lynching Texts ....... 228
6.4. The Representation of Lynching in Domestic Anti-Lynching Texts ....................... 230
6.5. Maternal Sufferings and Interracial Empathy........................................................... 232
6.5.1. "If anything can make All Women Sisters Underneath their Skins it is
Motherhood": the Disabling of African-American Motherhood in Grimké's Ra-
chel, Johnson's Safe and Link's Lawd, Does You Undahstan'?................................. 234
6.5.2. Georgia Douglas Johnson's Challenging of the Dominant Representation of
Lynching in A Sunday Morning in the South ............................................................ 240
6.5.3. The Departure from Traditional Definitions of Motherhood and the History
of Rape in Georgia Douglas Johnson's Blue-Eyed Black Boy................................... 241
6.6. Marriage and the Formulation of Domestic Resistance in Annie Nathan
Meyer's Black Souls................................................................................................... 243

7. The Demise of a Tradition – Strategies of Unilateral Domestic Resistance ............ 254
7.1. The Abandonment of Domestic Sameness ............................................................... 255
7.1.1. The Reformulation of Black Motherhood in Joseph S. Mitchell's Son-Boy....... 256
7.1.2. Lynching and the Invalidation of White Womanhood ....................................... 259
7.2. "A Horde of Screaming Women" – the Demystification of White Womanhood..... 267

8. List of Works Cited and Consulted............................................................................. 275
5 Abbreviations

Charles W. Chesnutt
MT The Marrow of Tradition
Sutton E. Griggs
HH The Hindered Hand
Angelina Weld Grimké
R Rachel
Corrie Crandall Howell
F The Forfeit
Georgia Douglas Johnson
BBB Blue-Eyed Black Boy
S Safe
SM Sunday Morning in the South
James Weldon Johnson
AB "An Army With Banners"
AG "Anarchy in Georgia"
LAND "Lynching – America's National Disgrace"
LM "The Lynching at Memphis"
LUS "Lawlessness in the United States"
M "Memorandum from Mr. Johnson to Dr. Du Bois: Re: Cri-
sis Editorial"
MTH "More Toll for Houston"
NC "A New Crime"
TA "Three Achievements and Their Significance"
Ann Seymour Link
L Lawd, Does You Undahstan'?
Annie Nathan Meyer
BS Black Souls
May Miller
NT Nails and Thorns
Joseph S. Mitchell
SB Son-Boy

6 Thomas Nelson Page
LCP "The Lynching of Negroes – Its Cause and Its Prevention"
Mary Church Terrell
LNPV "Lynching from a Negro's Point of View"
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
SH Southern Horrors
RR A Red Record
Walter White
FF Fire in the Flint
RF Rope and Faggot


7 1. Introduction

On July 19, 1935 Rubin Stacy, an African-American man, was lynched in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida. He was hanged to a tree within sight of Marion Jones's house, the woman who had
made the original accusation against him. The New York Times reports that a mob composed
of about one hundred masked men had taken Stacy from the custody of six deputies who had
been escorting him to Dade County jail for safekeeping. A picture of the aftermath of the
lynching was taken (Fig. 1-1). At its center is Stacy's hanged body, handcuffed and dressed in
ordinary worker's clothes. Apart from a few rips in his trousers, no bruises, wounds or shots
can be seen on his body, although, according to the New York Times quoting Deputy Wright,
1"[h]e was filled full of bullets." The rope around Stacy's
neck has cut deep into his throat but his face is neither
distorted nor injured. He seems to have passed away
without any pain. The narrative written into his body is
one of a civilized and controlled execution devoid of any
2
savage "rituals of blood." In the background a group of
white onlookers can be seen, consisting of three men, two
women and four young girls, all dressed neatly in picnic-
3
like and predominantly white clothing. The man standing
on the very left with his arms folded conveys the
impression of profound satisfaction (but not lust for blood)
Figure 1-1 "The Lynching of Rubin
over the lynching and the presence of women and children Stacy." July 19, 1935, Fort Lauderdale,
FL. Taken from Allen, plate 57.
adds to the impression of overall approval of the event.
The photograph creates the image of a civilized performance, enacted by a group of rational,
determined and controlled people who did not kill "in fiendish glee," as Claude MacKay

1
Quoted after James Allen, et al., Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (Santa Fe, NM: Twin
Palms Publishers, 2000) 185. All further quotes from the Times relating to the lynching of Stacy are taken from
Allen. For the analysis of visual representations see esp. Alan Trachtenberg, Reading American Photographs:
Images as History, Mathew Brady to Walker Evans (New York: Noonday Press, 1989). For a exhaustive
discussion of visual representations of lynching as used in apologetic as well as oppositional texts see Dora
Apel, Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers UP, 2004).
2
The expression "ritual of blood" to describe lynching is taken from the title of Orlando Patterson's study
Rituals of Blood: the Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries (Washington, DC:
Civitas/Counterpoint, 1998).
3 In my reproduction of the original photograph the second man from the left looks as if he had a dark skin
color. A larger print of the photograph with a higher solution, however, clearly reveals that he is white. See
Allen plate 57.
8 writes, but were meting out justice for the "usual crime" of rape and restituting a racial
4hierarchy visually reenacted in the contrast between the black victim and the white crowd.
Soon after, the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People
(NAACP) published a pamphlet (Fig. 1-2) that features on its front page the photograph
depicting the aftermath of the lynching of Rubin Stacy. The use of such a photograph in the
NAACP's anti-lynching campaign may seem strange
since the impression conveyed by the picture is largely
apologetic. The pamphlet, however, reinterprets the
photograph by re-appropriating the meanings usually
ascribed to blackness and whiteness. The caption under
the photograph tells the reader "not [to] look at the Negro.
His earthly problems are ended. Instead, look at the seven
WHITE children who gaze at this gruesome spectacle."
While the original intent of the photograph was to deter
African-Americans from any assertion of equality,
figured as the uninhibited access to white women, and to
promote white supremacy, the pamphlet shifts the focus
Figure 1-2. "NAACP Pamphlet to the harmful effects lynching has for the moral
Supporting the Passage of the
Costigan-Wagner Bill." NAACP development of children: "what psychological havoc is
Papers, Part 7, Series A, Reel 9, Frame
245. (Microfilm Edition).
being wrought in the minds of the white children? Into
what kinds of citizens will they grow up? What kind of America will they help to make after
being familiarized with such an inhuman, law-destroying practice as lynching?" The
pamphlet thus re-appropriates white supremacist discourse and stages resistance to lynching
by redefining lynching from a physical threat to African-Americans to a moral threat to
American civilization. It further challenges the dominant projection of lynching by relating
the full story of the alleged crime. Quoting from the New York Times, the pamphlet discloses
that "subsequent investigations revealed that Stacy, a homeless tenant farmer, had gone to the
house to ask for food; the woman became frightened and screamed when she saw Stacy's
face." Rather than being lynched for the "usual crime" of rape, Stacy was punished for
"threatening and frightening a white woman," a crime which in the eyes of the lynchers
justified "PHYSICAL torture for a few hours." The pamphlet thus re-inscribes lynching with
a new meaning, presenting it as the quintessence of lawlessness and uncivilized behavior and

4
Claude McKay, "The Lynching," Witnessing Lynching: American Writers Respond, ed. Anne P. Rice (1920;
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2003) 190.
9

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