black women

University remembers the lynching of a pregnant woman 100 years ago

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maryApril V. Taylor

WGCL-TV Atlanta is reporting on the May 19, 1918 lynching of Mary Turner, a 21-year-old pregnant woman who was murdered for speaking out about the lynching of her husband Hayes Turner. Hayes Turner had been killed during a week-long mob-driven manhunt for the killer of plantation owner Hampton Smith, who had been shot. Mary Turner spoke out denying that her husband had any involvement in Smith’s killing and denounced his murder, threatening to have members of the mob who had killed him arrested. The mob then turned against her and decided to focus their wrath on her.

When the mob captured Turner, they took her to Folsom Bridge over Little River, tied her ankles, and hung her upside down from a tree. As her great granddaughter Audrey Grant reports, “She took action. And because she took action she was hung, tarred, and burned as well as her unborn baby.” Historical newspaper accounts report that her child was cut from her womb while she was still alive, and upon crying, the baby was stomped and crushed. After Turner’s body was riddled with bullets, she was cut down and buried near the tree she had hung from.

Regarding learning the details of the killing, Grant states, “I had a few moments there myself…deep emotions. It just almost seems like it is something that just happened. Once all the information is presented, and all of us as family, and friends get together and start talking about it, we get very emotional.” She goes on to state, “I am very fortunate to even know and have this information in hand. We don’t want our children to not know what happened. Just because we come from a family that were slaves, it doesn’t mean we are less and as a matter of fact it uplifts me. It doesn’t matter what color we are. History is history. It really brings everybody together, to know where we came from, and what happened in those times.”

Valdosta State University Professor Dr. Mark George has started the Mary Turner Project as a way to digitize slave records and create a searchable database of ancestral names. George states, “This project was started because we have repeatedly heard that people lack the access or resources to see if their ancestors owned enslaved people or were enslaved. The project was also started to create a database of the more than 2,600 documented lynchings in the United States. The database will allow people to search lynching victims by name, year, location, race, gender, mob type and alleged crime. Regarding the database, George states, “History is important, everybody’s history is important. I think uncovering the truth helps us understand our past and the racial divide we live in every day.”

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266 Comments

  1. Kyle F. Arnell. iii

    August 5, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    As I ponder on what to say, I find myself saying, We haven’t came far enough from those days of public lynchings. How many of our men have been locked up, falsely accused and pronounced guilty because they are Black. Our new slavery is economics and we are chained by its’ false security. Even as President of our USA, they have repeatedly tried to destroy his character and credibility with lies and political propoganda. They call it bi-patrician, I call it prejudice, bigotry which falls under the definition of just plain ignorance. Wake up Black America our struggle is still in our infant stage. If they openly insult and try to openly attack the President, what are there plans for the rest of us?

  2. Barbara

    August 5, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    The lynch mob probably went to church after their dastardly deed. How the Slave owners and lynch mobs can call themselves Christians is beyond belief. SMH

    • Regina

      August 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      These animals probably came from church as well as on their way to church.

  3. Dorinda Ross

    August 6, 2014 at 12:28 am

    So true what you both said. It is very sad to read such things have happened to another human being but GOD sees all and everything done in the dark shall come to the light.

  4. r.miller

    August 6, 2014 at 2:34 am

    I ve read about many crimes over the years being that I’m a true crime buff and also work in law enforcement. I must say this crime has to be the most heinous I’ve come across.

  5. kimberly

    August 6, 2014 at 3:56 am

    may her sweet soul rest in peace…this story is so sad I can barely type

  6. Kevin Flanagan

    August 6, 2014 at 4:43 am

    There is a book Called “At the hands of persons unknown” that documents most of the “recorded lynchings” in some detail.
    There are no words .

  7. livedatruth

    August 6, 2014 at 5:53 am

    My soul cries out to the Lord on behalf of my ancestors who paved the way for us with their lives literally.As a former educator it saddens me to know that our unique and priceless history came as no surprise;however this is information that our younsters don’t even believe that transpired.Truly you won’t find this in the regular textbooks.I commend the granddaughter on richly taking this part of her history and having a heart of forgiveness.This type of history is relevant because it embarked on civil rights and freedoms that our culture had been fighting for long before MLK,Malcolm X,and Rosa Parks,and other txtbook heroes and heroines….

  8. Charles

    August 6, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Rodney ! You’re absolutely correct. Racism is still live and well and here to stay. We bettetr end it before it ends us. My question today is; What give the so-called WHITE or CAUCASOID the feeling that they are superior against other ethnic groups. If you were to peel their skin back you’ll see how ugly they look. That’s why I don’t give a damn what think or feel. It’s all about power, Particular the southern IRISH. Irish always had a tendency to dislike BLACKS.. The reasons; only GOD knows.

  9. Charles

    August 6, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Another thing most of us need to learn and understand is that I do not portray myself as an AFRICAN AMERICAN. I claim myself as an AMERICAN because I as born here in this country. So why don’t the Whites called themselves EUROPEAN AMERICANS as well. Why specifically we so-called Blacks. Black are not immigrants, first of all and can not emulate them either. I advise all who read this post to focus on who you really are. You are an American as well as the Whites. The difference is that they came to this country from Europe to strike it rich which they did. They heard about a free labor system what has been called Black Slavery. Even criminals, vagues hustlers came to Ameica and became masters, the English and the Irish and the Scottish-Irish who began this cruel unhuman institution. Do yourself a favor, you are an American, not an African American because if you were born in Africa and became citizen in the United States, then you can call yourself an African Americn. That the true definition what a African American stands for.

    • Regina

      August 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Sure. Be anything else than black or human.

  10. Iya Kai

    August 6, 2014 at 9:34 am

    First of all to Charles, speak for yourself. I am an African born in America, the descendant of enslaved Africans. I define who I am — not you or anyone else. White people identify themselves by the ethnic group of their ancestors — Italian, Irish, Greek, Polish, English, French,German, Russian, etc. So you are wrong on that. Before anyone knows you are American, all they see is your Black face — your Africaness — whether you like it or not. We are an African people. Like Peter Tosh said, “No matter where you come from, as long as you’re a Black man, you’re an African!” That’s what YOU need to learn and understand. The sooner Black people understand that, the better. Take the chains off of your minds!

    Secondly, I am so happy Dr. George and the people in Georgia have commemorated the life of Mary Turner. In March, we held a Sacred Libation Ceremony in Philadelphia for the 150 documented cases of Black women in the U.S. who had been lynched between 1870 and 1957. I read “The Lynching Calendar” that lists 2,400 of the 5,000 documented lynchings of African people in the U.S., but I didn’t realize there were this many women lynched! The website with The Lynching Calendar” has since mysteriously disappeared. I first read about the women in an article by Yolanda Spivey on this site.

    That article led me to http://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/recorded/ where I found details on the women. I contacted Brother Nnamdi Azikiwe, the owner of that site and he helped me organize the ceremony. The story about Mary Turner broke my heart. As I read about the women the Ancestors directed me to do something about it — that libation needed to be poured for our murdered sisters. As we poured libation and prayed for the upliftment of their souls, we too were healed. More cermonies of this type need to be done to heal our communities. This should be done in every place where our sisters were lynched.

    We plan on performing the sacred libation ceremony every year on the last Sunday in March, which is Women’s History Month. This is part of our history — Amerikkkan history that we must pass to our children and grandchildren. They will not learn this in school. It’s up to us to teach them. These lynchings are a part of the “African Holocaust – the Maafa” that some folks, including some Negroes, want us to forget. The Maafa included the Middle Passage, 300+ years of chattel slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation and continues to this day.

    We must never forget our Ancestors and the atrocities they endured. We must never forget these women – our sisters — who were brutally tortured and lynched. REMEMBER THE MAAFA! NEVER AGAIN!

  11. butch

    August 6, 2014 at 10:19 am

    I’m not sure why this was brought uo today, but this all kinds of ugly. I am not getting my day started with hatred over evil demonic people. We all should be prayerful. This happened 96 years ago, there is absolutely nothing we can do to bring her back. Call on GOD, and do better each day.

    • Regina

      August 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      Pi$$ on prayer. What is prayer going to do? Not a d-a-m-n thing. I am sick and tired of African Amerikkkans like yourself always calling on prayer but won’t do the work.

  12. au

    August 6, 2014 at 11:38 am

    the sad thing is ppl still do this.. it’s also amazing to me that blacks don’t do these type of crimes yet are call animals.. when you hear of stuff like this, it’s white folks who’re doing thismtype crimes and/or are eating people.. they are the hideous ones… maybe not colored means not cooked! (half-baked).. sure to be missing a few marbles.. wow.. they’re crude w/o soul, yet they too cry for their young or when they lose someone, a family member or friend to accident or to death.. it’s just amazing.. how’d these heartless souls/beings get here? makes it sound that there’s some truth to what our predecessors called them, “blue eyed devils”

  13. Daisy

    August 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

    These type of lessons need to be taught in our schools. The young black kids today do not know their history. The Kanye West and Lil Wayne’s of today don’t care about the black struggle or how or who made it possible for them to get where they are today. They lust after and marry their white girls and say to hell with their black history. Instead of degrading and bringing down black females in their raps, someone need to step up and start rapping about black history of the past. People say you should be color blind. How can you be color blind when read articles like this?

  14. D. Gray

    August 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    This crimes a originate from Western
    Europe. The texts by W.E.B Dubois give detailed illustration in the vivid innate
    Vile, and violent nature of Europeans in general, and the stratospheric scales of violence emmanating from Anglo HundsSaxons (British), Gauls, (French),.Hunds (Germans),.Spain, Portugal, Belgium, The Netherlands (Dutch),

  15. ericaf

    August 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I felt a pain in my stomach reading this article.

  16. Anthony allen

    August 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Hey barbara im amazed that black people run around calling themselves christians. I gotta wonder about the intelligence of any people that adopt a religion , let alone the one of their oppressor. Im black and the intelligent thing to do is to eliminate the ones who want to eliminate you. As Malcolm X said im at peace with those who are peace with me but the converse must certainly be true.

  17. J. David Duckett

    August 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    And they wonder why we refer to them as devils.

  18. Angie

    August 7, 2014 at 1:11 am

    This awful murder of a man, woman and baby’s murder proves once again and all too often that there is still a case for reparations for our people. It is difficult to read this without shedding some tears. Even 100 years does not heal the pain. Those savages have passed this kind of hatred to their great-great grandchildren. That same evil mentality is alive and well today.

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