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occurrence and few were as widely publicized as that of Sam Hose, but, as Litwack explains, "Nothing so dramatically or forcefully underscored the cheapness of black life in the South."While lynching had long been a means of dishing out extralegal justice to whites as well as blacks, "in the 1890s, lynching and sadistic torture rapidly became exclusive public rituals of the South, with black men and women as their principle victims." Of course, white power had long been inscribed on black bodies and both during slavery and reconstruction resistance prompted deadly retribution. But in crucial ways, Litwack argues, the execution of Hose and otherswas strikingly new . . . To kill the victim was not enough; the execution needed to be turned into a public ritual, a collective experience, and the victim needed to besubjected to extraordinary torture and humiliation.What had been in the past a usually rapid dispatch of the victim, now became part of a voyeuristic spectacle.Indeed, widely circulated written accounts and photographs - even early sound recordings -- broadened the size of the audience for this racist pornography of alleged crime and punishment. Although associated in the popular mind with the defense of white womanhood, not only were the charges often fabricated, but, in the overwhelming majority of cases the victim had not, in
fact, been charged with a sexual assault. Whether it took the form of spectacle orsmaller public executions, southern blacks endured a reign of white terror.
Work Cited.Leon F. Litwack, Trouble In Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow, NewYork, Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.