wk4kodak - David M arriott .Marriott, David. OnBIackMen....

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. Marriott, David. OnBIackMen. Columbia University Press: New York, 2000: David Marriott iI'm gonnaborrer me a I Kodak': Photography and Lynching A hot August night in Marion, Indiana. 1930. Accused of rape and murder, a young black man stands - a bloody mass - on the courthouse lawn. There's a·noosearoundbis· neck. The mob sur- rounds him: thousands of 'people haying. Above him, the bodies of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith hang from the trees. 'In my mind'~ writes James Cameron, years later, in 1982, '1 was already dead'{Cameron 1995: 10). Already dead1A few hours befor~ Cameron had seen his two friends mauled to death. Shipp and Smith. Shipp first, beaten with fists and clubs and stones by a crowd that, Cameron tells us, comes to life at the sight ofTommj's bodY.'ltwas terrifying and siclcening to watch', he recalls,'yet I couldn't tum my eyes away' (ibid.: 60). GaZe riveted, Cameron watches Thomas, beaten and dragged sense- less, come 'back from the dead - 'he fought the mob. savagely. for a few seconds' - in time to die: 'The rope, looped through the bars of the window did the rest' (ibid.: 61). The crowd - some fifteen thousand people - frenzy. drawn to the. sight of blood. Pushing and shoving to get 'a closer look at the "dead nigger"', a souvenir of bloody spectacle. 'Murderous fippetite' is hoY/Cameron describes it, while the crowd begins chanting for'another nigger' (ibid.). This time it's Abram Smith: Another black body" torn and bleeding. a crowbar rammed through his .chest. More hunting for souvenirs: while Abe and Tommy hang lifeless from the trees, the mob- screaming now, and giggling- take out their Kodaks. ~s other mob members took pictures ofthe spectacle', Cameron writes, 'they vied with one another to have their pictures taken alongside the tree showing the bodies of Abe and Tommy swaying in .the breeze' (ibid.: 63). Click, smile, click - and then the crowd heads back towards the jail. It's Cameron's turn. ThebJack prisoners in Cameron's cell are waiting with him. They can hear the mobsters coming up the stairs, 'a jamming bunch of violent, ruthless, Black-hating white men' (ibid.: 65). They're
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3 :1 ON BLACK MEN chanting for Camero.n - 'To think they wanted me that badl' - but the ringleaders don't know what he looks like. They have to find him out. A terrible scene: black prisoners, crawling for their lives ('Don't hang us Mister Bossmanl') while others, defiant, hold Cameron back. FinalJy, 'Dere he isl': one black prisoner.- an old man, in jail with his son - points Cameron out. 'A novel st:ithe', he concludes. 'To them, this was a sight that every white perSOil:"ih the world should be able to witness. What a spectacle' (ibid.: 65-'71). What happens next may be a miracle. Running the gauntlet ofthe crowd (the Marion Police dear a path through the swarm), Cameron is pounded, bitten, spat on: 'A pick handle crashed down against the side ofmy head' (ibid.: Tzj. His head in a noose, he passes out. 'I was already dead', he says, again. 'With the noose around my neck and death in my. brain, I waited for the end' (ibid.: 73, 74). And then he hears the voice. 'It was a feminine voice. sweet, dear, but unlike anything I
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This note was uploaded on 09/15/2011 for the course AMST 10 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of California, Santa Cruz.

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wk4kodak - David M arriott .Marriott, David. OnBIackMen....

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