Thursday, January 28, 2016

March 28, 1951: Melvin Womack

Today we learn about a lynching in Florida through the pages of St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) dated April 3, 1951:


WINTER GARDEN, Fla., April 3 (UP)—A Negro was fatally beaten last Wednesday night by night riders who may have mistaken him for someone else.

The attack did not come to light until last night. Sheriff Dave Starr disclosed that four unmasked white men invaded a house, drove 26-year-old Melvin Womack into an orange grove near this central Florida town, and battered him on the head, apparently with a pistol butt. Womack died Saturday.

Officers and others said Womack, a citrus grove worker, was not a troublemaker and did not have any known enemies. Constable Carl Sanders recalled that another Negro had been beaten on the street by four or five white men about two months ago. He said Coleman lived just two or three blocks from Womack and that the night riders might have gone to the wrong house.

The kidnapping was reported by Pauline and Dora Mosby, with whom Womack boarded. They failed to recognize any of the night riders and Womack himself told Coroner C. M. Tucker before he died that "I don't know who did it and I don't know why."

Sanders found the Negro in the grove Thursday morning.

The Eugene Guard (Eugene, Oregon) dated April 4, 1951:

Whites Flog Young Negro

WINTER GARDEN, Fla.,—(U.P.)—Authorities revealed Wednesday that night riders not only flogged a young Negro citrus grove worker but blasted him with buckshot.

The victim, 26-year-old Melvin Womack, died in an Orlando hospital Saturday night. The Fact that four white men dragged him from his boarding house and beat and shot him was not disclosed until Tuesday night because authorities first believed his death might have been an accident.

Dr. A. W. Derrick of Orlando, who performed an autopsy, said Wednesday Womack's body had been struck by five buckshot slugs, one piercing his skull.

The victim died without being able to furnish a clue to the identity of his attackers.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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