Arc of Justice

Arc of Justice

by

Kevin Boyle

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A lynching is an extrajudicial killing carried out by a mob to punish perceived wrongdoing. Historically, lynchings have been dramatic, social events. In the United States, lynching almost always refers to the killing of a Black person by a white mob. Thousands of lynchings took place, particularly—but not exclusively—in the southern states during the years following Reconstruction. They served to enforce Jim Crow laws and the fear they sparked encouraged many people to travel north as part of the Great Migration. Ossian Sweet claimed to have witnessed the lynching of Fred Rochelle firsthand, and this event engendered a lasting fear of white violence in him.

Lynching Quotes in Arc of Justice

The Arc of Justice quotes below are all either spoken by Lynching or refer to Lynching. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
).
Chapter 2 Quotes

He’d recount it with frightening specificity: the smell of kerosene, Rochelle’s screams as he was engulfed in flames, the crowd’s picking off pieces of charred flesh to take home as souvenirs. Maybe, just maybe, he did see it all. The bridge was a short walk from his home. He could have been outside—coming back from his father’s fields—when the mob drove Rochelle through East Bartow. But he was only five years old in the summer of 1901. And it seems unlikely that Dora would have let him outside anytime that day. More likely, the horrific events imprinted themselves so deeply on Ossian’s mind that he convinced himself that he had been there. Either way, the effect was the same. The image of the conflagration—the heart-pounding fear of it—had been seared into his memory.

Related Characters: Ossian Sweet, Fred Rochelle, Dora DeVaughn
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

While Du Bois pledged that Negroes would return from Europe ready to fight for equal rights, socialists A. Phillip Randolph and Chandler Owen preached the power of armed resistance. “We are…urging Negroes and other oppressed groups confronted with lynching and mob violence to act upon the recognized and accepted law of self-defense,” the pair wrote during the bloody summer of 1919. “Always regard your own life as more important than the life of the person about to take yours, and if a choice has to be made between the sacrifice of your life and the loss of the lyncher’s life, chose to preserve your own and to destroy that of the lynching mob.”

Related Characters: W. E. B. Du Bois, Ossian Sweet
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
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Arc of Justice PDF

Lynching Term Timeline in Arc of Justice

The timeline below shows where the term Lynching appears in Arc of Justice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: America: 1925
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...the coalfields of Appalachia. Along the way, they pass myriad sites where white mobs have lynched Black people. (full context)
Chapter 2: Ain’t No Slavery No More
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...white voyeurism and interest. The white community’s fear and disgust for these places fueled violence. Lynchings and other forms of vigilante justice occurred commonly. (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...barrel, then allowed the victim’s husband to light the match. Although other men suffered horrific lynchings during Ossian’s childhood, Rochelle’s death made the strongest impression on Ossian. Although he was only... (full context)
Chapter 3: Migration
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...campaign against left-wing activists and feeds narratives of nativist white superiority. A white mob even lynches a Black soldier for wearing his uniform in public in early 1919. Then, in the... (full context)
Chapter 4: Uplift Me, Pride
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...legal aid for a Black man who murdered his abusive landlord. They protect him from lynching and help him to earn a judgment of justifiable homicide. (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...destroy the Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. In 1922, 51 Black men are lynched. And in 1923, race riots destroy Rosewood, Florida. (full context)
Chapter 5: White Houses
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...sets, onlookers begin to pelt the house with chunks of coal and stones while chanting “Lynch him! Lynch him!” Panicked and fed up, Fletcher picks up a rifle and opens fire... (full context)
Chapter 7: Freedmen, Sons of God, Americans
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
...in private, to distrusting “pure Negro[s].” Still, his passion—and his ability to “pass” while investigating lynchings and other crimes on behalf of the NAACP—make him an indispensable member of the organization... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Prodigal Son
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...relations, giving them reports on the 1919 Washington D.C. and 1921 Tulsa race riots, Southern lynchings, and analyses of restrictive covenants authored by W. E. B. Du Bois and Louis Marshall.... (full context)
Chapter 9: Prejudice
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...the weight of Black America—from the race riots in East St. Louis and Tulsa to lynchings in the South, to the expulsions of Black families from white neighborhood in Detroit all... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...of pride and responsibility. Ossian retells his life story, from the horror of Fred Rochelle’s lynching through his recent sojourn in Europe. When Toms objects that this line of questioning is... (full context)
Epilogue: Requiescam
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...than a set of social systems conspiring to divide society, northern white progressives decry Southern lynchings while ignoring solidifying segregation in their own cities. Only in 1968, more than 40 years... (full context)