EJI May 28, 1830: Indian Removal Act Forces Indian Tribes to Migrate West

MAY 28th, 1830

Indian Removal Act Forces Indian Tribes to Migrate West

On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the President to grant land west of the Mississippi River in exchange for the lands of the American Indian tribes living primarily in the southeastern United States. President Jackson’s message to Congress stated a double goal of the Indian Removal Act: freeing more land in southern states like Alabama and Mississippi, while also separating the Indians from “immediate contact with settlements of whites” in the hopes that they will one day “cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.”

Source: Equal Justice Initiative

You can find more background on the Indian Removal Act and read the full text of the law at the Library of Congress’s Indian Removal Act site.

The last sentence of the quote above irks me greatly and hope it does you as well. To this day, many Whites are entirely dismissive of any culture or religion not their own.

EJI MAY 21st, 1961: National Guard Disperses White Crowd Threatening Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Alabama

MAY 21st, 1961

National Guard Disperses White Crowd Threatening Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Alabama

On May 20, 1961, Freedom Riders arriving in Montgomery, Alabama, were attacked by a white mob and several suffered serious injury. On the evening of May 21, more than 1000 black residents and civil rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth attended a service at Montgomery’s First Baptist Church organized by Rev. Ralph Abernathy to support the Freedom Riders. A white mob surrounded the church and vandalized parked cars. From the church’s basement, Dr. King called United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and requested help. United States Marshals soon arrived to dispel the riot; the growing mob pelted them with bricks and bottles. The marshals responded with tear gas.

Source: Equal Justice Initiative

This incident could have been far bloodier if MLK didn’t have a friendly Attorney General on speed dial. Or if the federal government had declared it a state matter.

 

Equal Justice Initiative Calendar Update

In a previous post I committed to doing daily posts sharing the undertaught racial history of the US by sharing items from the Equal Justice Initiative’s History of Racial Injustice daily timeline.

I regret to say that my ambitions have exceeded my energy level for this project. Therefore, I’ll only be highlighting the calendar on Mondays, through the end of April 2019.

 

 

MAY 15th, 1916 Jesse Washington Brutally Lynched in Waco, Texas – Equal Justice Initiative

MAY 15th, 1916

Jesse Washington Brutally Lynched in Waco, Texas

On May 15, 1916, after an all-white jury convicted Jesse Washington of the murder of a white woman, he was taken from the courtroom and burned alive in front of a mob of 15,000.

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The crowd gathered to watch and/or participate in the brutal lynching grew to 15,000. Jesse Washington was chained to a car while members of the mob ripped off his clothes, cut off his ear, and castrated him. The angry mob dragged his body from the courthouse to City Hall and a fire was prepared while several assailants repeatedly stabbed him. When they tied Jesse Washington to the tree underneath the mayor’s window, the lynchers cut off his fingers to prevent him from trying to escape, then repeatedly lowered his lifeless body into the fire. At one point, a participant took a portion of Washington’s torso and dragged it through the streets of Waco. During the lynching, a professional photographer took photos which were later made into postcards.

Source: A History of Racial Injustice – Equal Justice Initiative

Although this happened 102 years ago, it’s still worth pointing out that this didn’t happen to white people even back then. Being dragged from a court room and being tortured to death for fun and profit was something that happened to black people. While lynching appears rare today, the sense of “black people are less” lives on in the casual way we accept murders of unarmed black men by police and how easily police are called into situations involving African-Americans in white places.

MAY 14th, 1961 – Freedom Riders Attacked in Anniston, Alabama – Equal Justice Initiative

MAY 14th, 1961

Freedom Riders Attacked in Anniston, Alabama

The Freedom Riders, an interracial group of civil rights activists, began riding interstate buses in 1961 to test Supreme Court decisions that prohibited discrimination in interstate passenger travel. Their efforts were unpopular with whites who supported segregation.

On Mother’s Day, May 14, 1961, a Greyhound bus carrying Freedom Riders arrived at the Anniston, Alabama, bus station shortly after 1:00 p.m. The station was locked shut. A mob of fifty men led by Ku Klux Klan leader William Chapel and armed with pipes, chains, and bats, smashed windows, slashed tires, and dented the sides of the Riders’ bus. Though warned hours earlier that a mob had gathered at the station, local police did not arrive until after the assault had begun.

Source: A History of Racial Injustice – Equal Justice Initiative

 

 

MAY 13th, 1956: Four White Men Kidnap and Rape Black Girl in Tylertown, Mississippi – Equal Justice Initiative

MAY 13th, 1956

Four White Men Kidnap and Rape Black Girl in Tylertown, Mississippi

On May 13, 1956, sixteen-year-old Annette Butler of Tylertown, Mississippi, was kidnapped and gang raped by four white men. Ms. Butler and her family reported the assault and the men were arrested, jailed, and tried for the crime – a rarity in Mississippi for white men charged with assaulting black women. Despite a confession, all-white juries refused to convict three of the four defendants, and the fourth was allowed to plead to a reduced charge in exchange for a sentence of twenty years hard labor.

Source: A History of Racial Injustice – Equal Justice Initiative

In addition to documenting systemic racism – that it is very difficult to hold whites accountable for harming blacks – this piece also demonstrates the problem with America’s “only the innocent deserve protection.”

What I mean by this is that nearly any act of violence can be excused if the victim “deserved” it. In this case, and in practically every case of police shooting unarmed black men, a search is instituted to find reasons why the victim wasn’t pure and innocent and therefore unworthy of the protection of the law.

During the trial of Ms. Butler’s rapists – and despite a written confession from one of the gang rapers – the defense attacked Ms. Butler’s reputation. They claimed that she was a prostitute and a woman of poor reputation. That was all the white jury needed to produce rape acquittals.

Even if the slurs against Ms. Butler were true, NO ONE deserves to be kidnapped and raped. Full Stop. No unarmed person deserves to be killed by police. Full Stop. We have to get away from “the deserving get life and justice” to “EVERYONE gets life and justice.” Because all of us, but especially, and too often, people of color get painted as undeserving. And that gets you raped or killed in our society.