HISTORY: How Whites Lynched Black Business Owners To Kill The Competition

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Lynched Black
This photo shows a bronze statue called “Raise Up”, part of the display at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new memorial to honor thousands of people killed in lynchings, Monday, April 23, 2018, in Montgomery, Ala. The memorial and an accompanying museum that open this week in Montgomery are a project of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group in Montgomery. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Last week during the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee hearing about H.R. 40 and reparations, economist, author, political commentator and former president of Bennett College Julianne Malveaux reminded America of the many ways its dark history of racial violence against Black people continues to affect the group’s future.

“In Wilmington North Carolina, Republicans and Black people came together to form a fusion government, and white folks were so frightened that they took all the prominent Black men in that town, arrested them, the next morning gave them tickets to leave town. They had to leave their property, their livelihood, their families, everything. This is why we need reparations,” Malveaux said.

She continued with the toll racial violence took on Black people’s ability to rebound and prosper collectively as a group.

“Democrats were so threatened by the notion of this fusion government that they basically burned people out. They’ve documented 60 deaths. … It was really about economic envy, so absent this economic envy and fear, Black folks, we didn’t get the 40 acres and a mule, but we were still trying to do it, and then folks came in and said, ‘Wait a minute, if we let them do their thing, where is our cheap labor going to come from?’” Malveaux added.

As horrible as Malveaux’s recounting sounds, the truth of it is undeniable. Ironically, those Black men who were given the opportunity to board the train in Wilmington were among the fortunate because they at least kept their lives.

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Malveaux also recounted the terror of Black Wall Street and other economic factors during her argument. Whether America wants to acknowledge it or not, the harsh truth is many Black people were lynched by whites for the crime of prosperity in business.

An article printed last year in the LA Times also highlighted this fraught history, including how Black business owners were murdered or had their establishments burned to the ground by jealous white people. One such case was People’s Grocery in Memphis in 1892. The successful Black owner and two of his Black employees were lynched in such a horrific manner it reverberated across the nation.

The phenomenal Ida B. Wells dedicated much of her life to documenting the frequency and voracity of whites lynching Blacks. She cited the rise of Black people competing economically with whites as the cause of many of them.

In Alabama, the national lynching memorial which opened last year has almost 800 monuments with the names of over 4,400 victims engraved in them, reported AL.com. It’s highly likely that some names have been left off due to murders being covered up or forgotten by history.

To those still in denial, this is not the stuff legends are made of. This is quite the contrary. White people lynched Black people to literally kill the competition – period.