Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 28, 1890: Frank Griffin

Today we learn about a lynching in Alabama through the pages of The Wilmington Messenger (Wilmington, N. C.) dated March 30, 1890:

A Rape Fiend Lynched.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 29.—A special to the Age-Herald from Stanton, Ala., tells how Frank Griffin, a negro, raped two little girls, one 9 and the other 4 years old. He was caught and hung to a dogwood tree. The smallest girl will die of her injuries.

Today's article of interest comes to us from The New York Age (New York, N. Y.) dated February 16, 1935:

Lynching Art Exhibit, Scheduled to Open Saturday, Cancelled

Action Is Said To Have Come Because Of Flood Of Outside Protests

As as result of protests from unidentified sources, the "Art Commentary on Lynching," an exhibition of paintings and sculpture, scheduled to be opened Saturday at the Jacques Seligman Galleries, 3 East 51st St., was cancelled Monday. Although declining to reveal the source of the objections, Mr. Seligman merely stated that the exhibition had been cancelled, adding "I took over the show merely on the artists merit. Some of the exhibiting artists are well-known. However, I was faced with an outburst of opposition. Since I want to keep the galleries free of political or racial manifestations, I thought it better to cancel the show."

The show had been arranged by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, it was understood, although no public announcement of this fact had been made. Several announcements of the exhibition had been made by the galleries and paintings, drawings,  prints and a few pieces of sculpture had already arrived. An invitational opening had been planned for Friday, the day before the public opening.

The exhibits to be shown were the work of contemporaries, some of them well-known. Among the exhibits to be included was the famous print by George Bellows, "The Law Is Too Slow," showing a Negro being burned by a mob. Another was a large oil painting by Thomas H. Benton, mural artist, depicting a Negro being hanged on s telegraph pole while members of a mob replenished the fire beneath him. One of the most sensational was Reginald Marsh's portrayal in black and white called, "This is Her First Lynching." This showed a young girl being held by her mother above the heads of a mob so that the child could get a better view of the lynching.

In almost every picture a Negro is portrayed as the victim of a vengeful mob although the treatment of the case varied. The work is said to have been selected with an eye not only to its subject matter but also to artistic merit, much of it being considered very effective.

According to Walter White, executive secretary of the NAACP, the idea of holding the show had originated with his organization six or eight weeks ago and, to dismiss any idea on the part of the public that it was mere propaganda rather than the real exhibition of distinguished art with social message, it had been decided to open the show under the auspices of a large committee of well known persons rather than as an activity of the association. Artists had cooperated willingly, said Mr. White, and some had even produced work especially for the exhibition.

George Bellows "The Law Is Too Slow"

I could not find the Thomas H. Benton. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.


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